Vouvray Pairs with Cream #Winophiles

Loire Valley map courtesy of wikimedia.org

Loire Valley White Wine Roller Coaster
I love white wines from the Loire Valley. There is such variety as you travel from the central vineyards with Sauvignon Blanc, out to the middle Loire for Chenin Blanc, and finally crisp Muscadet as you get out to the coast: perfect for the oysters nearby. There are many organic, biodynamic and natural winegrowers in the region. I have, however, had my share of exciting highs and “Whoa!!!” moments (a prior run-in with Vouvray is here). I have learned a few lessons along the way. Vouvray is a great example.

Vouvray wines are made from the Chenin Blanc grape. Within the same appellation, you can find sparkling wines, and still wines ranging from fully dry to fully sweet. All under the label: Vouvray!

Vouvray wine AOC rules allow for a wide range of expressions from fully sparkling to still wines including dry (sec), off-dry (demi-sec), semi-sweet (moelleux) and fully sweet (doux). When the conditions are right, the sweet wines can even include botrytris infected grapes, bringing in a whole additional range of flavors. The roller coaster? The label is not required to tell you the sweetness level. Surprise! Luckily, some winegrowers do include sweetness information on the label, so you may sometimes have some help in the wine shop.

We landed on a chicken with cider and cream recipe from neighboring Normandy.

Food Pairings with Vouvray
In researching potential food pairings with Vouvray, a repeated theme of “cream” surfaced. Fish in cream sauce, poultry in cream sauce, creamy desserts with sweet versions of Vouvray. I had both dry (sec) and off-dry (demi-sec) Vouvrays for my dinner pairing. I often struggle a bit with off-dry wines at the dinner table, this seemed like a good time to try a creamy dish. After a bit of searching through my stack of French cookbooks, a poultry in cream sauce recipe emerged. Voila!

Domaine Huet has long been a standard bearer for Vouvray wines.

Domaine Huet
Victor Huët established Domaine Huet with the purchase of the estate in Vouvray in 1928. From the beginning, the family pursued vineyard work in a way supportive of nature and natural process. They were early adopters of biodynamics and over time became known the top estate in the denomination, known for pure and ageworthy Chenin Blanc based Vouvray wines.

In 2002, with the passing of Gaston Huet, a controlling interest in the estate was sold to American financier, Anthony Hwang. The new owners were very intent to not disrupt the estate, and kept the existing staff and winemaking team. Hwang family members left their careers in the United States and took up residence in Vouvray. However, there were some missteps related to some prominent reporters which led to controversy which seems to linger. By most accounts, however, the wines today are true to their history and remain outstanding examples of the appellation.

If you have the opportunity, you can visit and taste at Domaine Huet by appointment. Simply contact them here.

Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec from the Le Haut-Lieu vineyard

Domaine Huet Vouvray AOC “Le Haut Lieu” Sec 2017 ($33 at Sunfish Cellars or online here) 13%abv
Eye: Clear, medium gold color
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Ripe pears, hints of white flowers, rich honeysuckle, stone fruit – white peach.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity with rich unctuous ripe pears, honey, dried apricots, white peach, a bit of hay. Medium+ acidity, full body, medium alcohol, rich plush texture, nice medium+ length finish.
Conclusion: Very good quality wine with abundant fruit and plush texture but sufficient acidity to provide balance. Excellent concentration and good complexity. Can drink now, will benefit from 5+ years additional aging.

Domaine Huet Vouvray Demi-Sec from the Clos du Bourg vineyard

Domaine Huet Vouvray AOC “Clos du Bourg” Demi-Sec 2016 ($46 at Sunfish Cellars or online here) 13.5% abv
Eye: Clear, medium gold color
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. Ripe stone fruit – peaches, apricots.  Pineapple, orange rind and honey. Hints of honeysuckle and white flowers. Rich ripe nose.
Mouth: Off-dry, pronounced intensity. Ripe stone fruits and tropical fruits: ripe peaches, apricots, pineapple, honeysuckle flowers. Honey, beeswax, orange peel. Medium+ acidity, full body, medium alcohol, nice long finish of flowers and tropical fruits.
Conclusion: Very good to outstanding wine with concentrated and complex flavors and excellent acidity to balance. Can certainly enjoy now, this will will benefit from additional aging 5-10 years or more.

Creamy dishes pair nicely with rich yet brightly acidic Vouvray wines.

Vouvray and Cream
As a key ingredient, cream is a great choice for pairing with Vouvray wines. The wines have rich body yet are balanced by bright, cleansing acidity. The cream element in the dish matches the body of the wines, and it benefits from the palate cleansing nature of that bright acidity. My personal preference was for the dry (sec) version, although both were very nice.

A delicious, creamy chicken dish tastes great on a cold winter evening!

French #Winophiles Vouvray Discoveries

Has your curiousity been piqued about Vouvray? Take a look at all the great investigations from our Winophiles group. If you see this in time, join our chat on twitter on Saturday Dec. 21 at 11am EST. Find us at the hashtag #winophiles

Chicken with Hard Cider and Cream

This is based on a recipe from “French Bistro” by Maria Zihammou, available both new and used on Amazon, here. I enjoy this book very much and recommend it heartily. The recipes taste authentic and are achievable for a home cook.

Ingredients

  • One chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4 oz. cubed pancetta
  • 4 oz. frozen pearl onions
  • 1 1/2 cups dry hard apple cider
  • 1 bouquet garni of 2 sprigs rosemary, 2 sprigs thyme and 1 bay leaf, tied in kitchen twine
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Instructions

  • If desired, remove the skin from the chicken pieces.
  • Heat a 4 qt. dutch oven to medium on the stove-top
  • Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, salt and pepper mixture
  • Sear the chicken pieces in 1 Tbsp butter in several batches, adding a bit of butter as needed. Hold the chicken pieces on a plate.
  • Saute the pancetta and pearl onions.
  • Drain the remaining fat from the dutch oven.
  • Add the bouquet garni to the pancetta and onions in the dutch oven
  • Add the chicken back into the dutch oven
  • Add the cider
  • Cover the pot and bring the dutch oven to a simmer
  • Simmer the chicken stew  for 30 minutes until done
  • Serve over your favorite potato or grain.
  • Garnish with the flat leaf parsley just before serving.

 

Comments
12 Responses to “Vouvray Pairs with Cream #Winophiles”
  1. wendyklik says:

    Your recipe sounds lovely and I agree. The Vouvray I enjoyed paired very well with the creaminess of my dip.

  2. Lynn says:

    Mark and I are long-standing fans of Huet. I often pair his wines with various Asian and Indian foods. Loving your pairing here and saved it to make. Vouvray holiday cheers to you and your family!

  3. Interesting about the cream pairing! I’ve tended to gravitate toward Asian cuisine with Vouvray, good for you to go to the French cookbook!

  4. This recipe is one that I plan to dive into. I also look forward to diving further into Vouvray and exploring some of the Sec wines that I missed out on in this tasting!

  5. Yum! Your chicken recipe sounds delicious. I need to find a bottle of Domaine Huet and try the pairing. Vouvray definitely has a range of styles.

  6. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    Such a big fan of these wines, but was not aware of the controversy. The chicken looks like a great pairings. Yum!

  7. Great info! Interesting recipe with the chicken and cider; may have to try adapting it to the instant pot!

  8. The idea of a cream-based dish with Vouvray sounds very appealing. Your recipe for chicken in cider and cream? Delicious! Going to give it a try soon. Thanks for hosting this month.

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