Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Pastured Chicken Paired with 2011 Barboursville Vineyards Virginia Sauvignon Blanc

This is a hurricane Sandy special edition of Craig's Grape Adventure.  When a hurricane is bearing down on you, what do you do?  Me?  I open a bottle of wine and head to the kitchen!

This meal was inspired by a recent visit to P.A. Bowen Farmstead which is an "old-fashioned pasture-based, mixed species, soy-free farm that uses modern technologies and biodynamic techniques."  Spectacularly rich cheese made from raw milk is the crown jewel produced by the farm.  My eyes get all dreamy when thinking of this wonderful cheese.  But cheese is not the only product sold at their farm store.  Pastured chicken, processed on the farm weekly, is a prominent offering.  Last Friday, I visited the farm to photograph and video chicken processing.

After four hours of shooting, I purchased a freshly plucked chicken for this meal.  I settled on roasting the chicken with rosemary and garlic.  This is a simple preparation that allows the flavor of the chicken to shine through.  In the case of a pastured chicken, this is important.  Unlike the relatively flavorless industrial chickens from a big box grocer, pastured chicken from the P.A. Bowen Farmstead is abundant with flavor.  However, the flavor is difficult to describe.  As I contemplated the flavor and tried to find words, I finally settled on an analogy.  This pastured chicken represents the terroir of the pasture it comes from, much as exceptional wines express the region and soil where the grapes are grown.  The flavors of clover, and multiple grass species speak through the chicken.

The 2011 Barboursville Vineyards Virginia Sauvignon Blanc is a treasure.  Although Virginia is not known for Sauvignon Blanc, the folks at Barboursville have broken the code.  The nose is light and floral with herbal hints.  The subdued and refreshing aromas are reinforced by a similarly subtle flavor - much less "in your face" than California interpretations or those of New Zealand.  Dried apricot is the most pronounced with supporting flavors of stone fruits and a hint of pear.  The acidity is well balanced with the flavors - it does not distract and is consistent with the subtle nature of this wine.  The finish is surprisingly long and elegant with a pleasing hint of honeysuckle.  I am impressed with wines that do not scream for my attention but rather invite me to explore - a much appreciated restrained approach.  Barboursville has hit all the right notes in this somewhat softened version of Sauvignon Blanc.  Well done!

The restrained approach to roasting the chicken with rosemary and garlic mated perfectly with the similarly restrained Sauvignon Blanc from Barboursville Vineyards.  Neither demanded undue attention, but rather invited enjoyment of the well balanced combination.



  • 1 chicken
  • 10 red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary finely ground with a mortar and pestle
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 head cleaned garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry.  Allow to rest and continue to air dry for 15 minutes.
  2. Leave butter at room temperature to soften.
  3. Combine ground rosemary and minced garlic with the butter to form a paste.
  4. Season the inside of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, then stuff with the head of garlic and rosemary sprigs.
  5. Coat the chicken with the butter-rosemary-garlic paste reserving approximately 1/3 of the paste for the potatoes.
  6. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan (with grate).
  7. Put chicken in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
  8. Melt the remaining butter paste in the microwave and pour over the potatoes in a large bowl.  Season the potatoes with salt and pepper then toss to coat evenly.
  9. After 30 minutes in the oven, add the potatoes around the chicken and continue in the oven for another 60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 170-180 degrees.
  10. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Curried Pumpkin and Squash Soup Paired with 2010 Fox Run Vineyards Finger Lakes Riesling

With the onset of cooler weather comes pumpkins and all the fine squash family members.  The cooler weather also proclaims the start of soup season...at least in my mind.  Although I love the refreshing cold soups of summer, the luscious soups of fall and winter are always welcome on my table.

Today I made curried pumpkin soup from a couple of pumpkin varieties and a little help from an acorn squash.  Curried pumpkin (or squash) soup is easy, makes the house smell wonderful, and is quite rewarding when paired with a beautiful Riesling like the 2010 Fox Run Vineyards Finger Lakes Riesling.  Using a curried approach to pumpkin makes the wine pairing easy.  Just ask any of your Indian friends and you will find that Rieslings and Gewurztraminers are routine.

Making this soup is easy.  Start by selecting a pumpkin, or a couple of varieties as I did.  Clean the pumpkin then cut into cubes about two inches square (rectangles are fine too!).  Cut enough to completely cover two sheet pans then slice two onions to fill in any remaining holes.  The pumpkin should be placed skin side down.  Season with salt and pepper and place in a 400 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Switch positions (top to bottom) of the sheet pans, and continue to roast for another 25 minutes.

When done roasting, the pumpkin should be fork tender.  Harvest the flesh from and add to a 4 or 5 quart soup pot (including the roasted onions).  Add 32 ounces of chicken broth (vegetable broth works fine as well), 1 tablespoon curry powder and a can of coconut milk.  Stir and bring to temperature over medium heat.  Finally, puree the mixture with a submersion blender, adjust seasoning, ladle into bowls, and garnish with finely sliced scallions.

Now you are ready to enjoy the wonderful magic of Riesling and curry.  For this pairing, I chose one of two successful approaches; medium sweet with good acidity.  The 2010 Fox Run Vineyards Finger Lakes Riesling is delightfully balanced with a touch of sweetness and healthy acidity complementing the citrus, honey, and stone fruit flavors.  This wine has a wonderful nose of apricot and tropical fruits that make it difficult to delay a first sip.  It is inviting to say the least.

When pairing with curry, Riesling reigns.  However, be careful of Riesling that are too sweet.  Either a dry Riesling with strong acidity, or a medium sweet would be a good choice.  The 2010 Fox Run Vineyards Finger Lakes Riesling offered the best of both worlds - mild sweetness and refreshing acidity.  Just right.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.