A Wine to Match Roast Chicken

roast chicken
Like a scene from “Julia and Julia,” or something.

Roasted chicken is so wine-friendly that it might seem like a no-brainer to some, but for the sake of completeness, and because we had it for dinner last night, here’s a short post on pairing wine with this classic French bistro staple.

In France, the experience can range from mundane to extraordinary. At an indifferent bistro in the 7th your poulet rôti might be flabby and greasy, and when paired with a dubious glass of “cuvée du restaurant,” you might wonder what all the fuss is about. But you’ll understand when you taste an expertly roasted Poulet de Bresse from a restaurant like Place Bernard de Georges Blanc in Burgundy and pair it with a top Mâconnais.

The famous blue-footed Poulet de Bresse are reared to exacting standards of their own appellation d’origine controlee, and are prized by French chefs for their taste and texture. Equally delicious is the bird at San Francisco’s Zuni Café, but I prefer to cook this dish at home. Julia Child said it best in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” that “The most important aspect of chicken cooking is that you procure a good and flavorsome bird.” So I bought a Mountain Ranch Organic Chicken from a farmers’ market. The recipe from Julia’s book is the only recipe for roasted chicken I’ve ever used because it’s written for the home cook, and I always get succulent chicken with crispy skin. And always serve roasted chicken with a strong Dijon mustard. Always!

Poulet de Bresse
Roasted Poulet de Bresse at Place Bernard de Georges Blanc in Bourg-en-Bresse.

Roasted chicken is extremely wine-friendly, pairing well with both reds and whites. Julia Child suggests Médoc or rosé, and I see red Bordeaux with some age being a great match. In a Paris bistro, the vin rouge is likely to be Cabernet Franc, like Chinon or Bourgueil from the nearby Loire Valley. These wines are medium-bodied and aromatic, and I crave those wines whenever I plan to roast a chicken. Both red Burgundy and white Burgundy are spot-on here, and our sommelier at Georges Blanc suggested an excellent Pouilly-Fuissé. A dry Italian red from Sangiovese would also be perfect.

I poured two wines with our bird: 2008 Damien Delecheneau Touraine-Amboise Blanc, and a 2007 Trenel Morgon Côte du Py. The vineyards of Touraine-Amboise AOC lie next to those of Vouvray and Montlouis, and the white wines are blends based on Chenin Blanc. The 2008 was dry and fresh with racy acidity which cut through the richness of our chicken. Côte du Py is a small, high-quality subzone in the Beaujolais cru of Morgon. It was dry and aromatic with tons of minerality, and delicious with our poulet rôti.

The village of Bourg-en-Bresse.

posted on February 20 2010 by jesse

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