Odd Pair: King Ranch Chicken and an "Oxidative" Wine from Jura

Categories: Wine Time

king ranch chicken.jpg
University of Texas alum and a Solomon among wine writers, my friend Eric Asimov likes to tease me about some of my favorite pairings with Texan cuisine, like "oxidative" wines from Jura, France, with my mother-in-law's Chex Mix. (An oxidative wine is a wine that was made by purposely exposing the wine to oxygen during aging, muting some of the floral aromas and celebrating its more savory notes; check out this recent post on "oxidized" vs. "oxidative" by Wine Doctor.)

When Tracie P (my wife) made King Ranch Chicken (above) the other night for dinner (I know that all y'all know what King Ranch Chicken is, the supreme casserole of Texan cookery -- layered tortillas, chiles, cheese, and chicken, one of the greatest discoveries in my vida tejana), I reached for one of my favorites: Domaine de Montbourgeau Savagnin from Jura, where the extreme cold of winter is embraced by winemakers who traditionally favor an oxidative style. (You can find it in the Houston market for less than $30.)

As with my mother-in-law's spicy Chex Mix, I knew the heat of the casserole would overwhelm the floral and fruit notes in a brighter wine like a Chardonnay from Mâconnais or a Pinot Gris from Oregon. I wanted a more savory wine with earthier flavors -- think burnt orange zest and rocks -- as a complement to the richness of the cheese and the intense flavors of the chiles.

montbourgeau.jpg
Like its not-so-distant relative Sauvignon Blanc, Savagnin is an intensely aromatic grape. In my view, it's the ideal variety for a wine like this (although they also grow Chardonnay in Jura). The oxidative style -- not unique to but famously associated with Jura, where one of the world's most illustrious oxidative wines, vin jaune, is made -- draws out its dried citrus zest and straw notes. And it has the bright acidity that I want whenever I sit down at the dinner table.

This wine -- Tracie P and I agreed -- paired stunningly well with this new-found favorite dish of mine. Its saltiness interacted with the fat of the cheese the way a dry rub softens a marbled brisket.

Eric, I'll save a heaping helping of King Ranch Chicken and a cold Pearl Lager for you when you come to visit us.



Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords
My Voice Nation Help
9 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

So...  Does anyone know of a restaurant that makes a good King Ranch chicken?  I haven't had one in years.

Jeremy Parzen
Jeremy Parzen

FFB, I know there's some real famous place up in DFW (Alfonso knows) but never heard of it in a restaurant down here in HTX... 

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

I'm not going to Dallas for King Ranch Chicken.  I will now start a quest on finding it here in Houston.

Jeremy Parzen
Jeremy Parzen

Alfonso, the one we had that time was real good. I bet the one in Deep Ellum is sofa king...

FFB, when you find the place, I'll bring the Jura! 

Alfonso
Alfonso

Kim P. sez the best is the one from Toby at Eat the World (in Dallas) . Take out. We had it one with you and Mrs. P. But she likes the one at Allgood Cafe in Deep Ellum.

Jeremy Parzen
Jeremy Parzen

Aw shux, yall. :) Man, Tracie P's King Ranch Chicken is OFF THE CHARTS good... I'd never had the dish before I moved to Texas... 

Lauren Marmaduke
Lauren Marmaduke

Sweet lord that looks tasty. Need more King Ranch Chicken in my life. 

JB
JB

That King Ranch Chicken looks perfect.

SirRon
SirRon

Seriously, Jeremy's wine posts have literally made me a better person. For real.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...