One of the most interesting beverages I’ve come across lately is an unfiltered, no sulfur dioxide added sparkling treat. It’s small production of 300 cases it is made with no commercial yeast strains or barrel treatment and is a bit of a indie wine with a small but dedicated following. It reminds me a bit of a cult film, its flukey offbeat style drawing me back to check it out again and again, like Rocky Horror or a John Waters flick.
An Offbeat Blonde paired with Chicken Veronica in a Silky Savory Sauce
” Blonde” a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier from Andrea Calek is a wine I bought a few bottles of after tasting a sample bought for a tasting of natural wines. I’ve always had a soft spot for anything or anyone a bit undisciplined, non conformist or misbehaved. This wine produced in the Ardeche region of the Rhone totally qualifies for every level of funky individuality I’ve ever been attracted to. The second fermentation takes place in the bottle with the natural yeast left in and it’s closure is a simple crown beer cap with a small plastic insert inside. The murky juice is visible in the green glass bottle with a simple label including just the name of the wine and winemaker. The vintner who is rumored to live in a trailer among his vines has included his hot mail address on the back label should you have any questions on just what possessed him to bottle such a strange beverage!
Having a few friends over I decided to chill a few bottles to get reactions. After a few weeks in my cellar the deposit of grayish brown sludge or dead yeast in the bottle had adhered to the side of the bottle and took a few hours upright to settle to the bottom. The first few glasses carefully poured were quite clear and had aromas of honeysuckle, pear and a rich slightly creamy flavor. As we made our way through the rest of this bottle it became more and more murky and yeasty. The flavor changed from wine to an almost cider type drink. This is not for the faint of heart, bizarre chunks of sediment and an almost muddy appearance are present. I have to say I really liked it as it was like having a wine, beer and cider rolled into one bottle with the exception of the first glass. Sadly you lose the last glass in the bottle unless you are willing to try what looks like complete swamp water.
I paired it with a cream based chicken dish with mushrooms, grapes and shallots that went with all aspects of this wine from start to finish. The slightly sweet savory sauce complemented the rich fruit as well as the yeasty apple flavors that filled our glasses throughout the evening!
6 pieces sliced chicken breasts( approx 1/4 inch thick), 2 shallots chopped fine, 4 white mushrooms sliced, 1 cup seedless white grapes, 2 cups heavy cream, 6 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup chicken broth, salt and white pepper to taste, 1/4 cup canola oil
Rinse and pat dry chicken and lightly dredge in 4 tablespoons of flour. Heat oil and sauté till browned on each side about 2 min. each side in large fry pan. Remove chicken to rest on platter and drain oil from pan. Add butter on low heat, after butter melts add mushrooms and shallots and sauté till shallots are transparent. Stir in remaining flour and continue stirring to well coat shallots/mushrooms. Slowly add cream and broth all the while stirring to incorporate liquids. Add grapes and chicken and simmer for 20 min on low flame occasionally stirring till thickened, add salt and pepper to taste. Remove chicken to platter, stir sauce to blend and pour over chicken.
Blonde can be found online at http://www.astorwines.com/