The modern chicken is a descendent of the red and grey junglefowl that have been living in the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years. As early as 600 BC, in Babylonian carvings, people have been depicted gnawing on chicken drumsticks, and it is today the most popular type of poultry and the second most consumed meat in the world (it’s estimated that there about 19 billion chickens on earth).
A well-treated, well farmed, free range chicken can be a wonderful thing with a truly delicious meat. Famously, Poulet Bresse (from France) are some of the best in the world but, in the UK, farms like Packington in Leicestershire breed chickens that are a different class, too.
The roasting of chicken became very popular in the middle ages and it has continued to be so – in the UK it is our favourite Sunday lunch. Served with carrots, greens, roast potatoes, sage and onion stuffing, bread sauce and gravy, you can see why. You can then boil up the carcass and make a delicious soup, or stock, too!
As for wine pairings, we recommend the following:
Classic: Lequin Colin Back to the Roots – the traditional match is white Burgundy, and the good stuff at that. The buttery oak, and rich Chardonnay texture work hand in hand with your roast chicken. Many will suggest a Meursault or Chassagne Montrachet, but our pick is a fabulous Bourgogne Blanc from Domaine Lequin Colin, based in Santenay. All his vineyards have been certified organic since 2012, and biodynamic practices were introduced in 2010. This is fermented in oak, then aged for a further 12 months in oak (20% new) and could easily be picked as a Cru wine in a blind tasting. Luckily for us, however, it’s from the ‘wrong side of the (vineyard) tracks’ and the price is much more friendly than it would otherwise be!
Sommelier's Choice: Anton Bauer Rosenberg Alte Reben GV – Anton Bauer has been managing the Bauer family estate since 1992, and this Gruner is from his best vineyard - Rosenberg. This particular wine is made in very limited quantities from the oldest vines (planted in the 1950s). It is aged, on its lees, for 6 months in large oak barrels which gives it such a rich texture, concentration and weight that it is something to behold. This richness with traditional white pepper and minerality will work fantastically with a roast, and it is also very forgiving of different spices and seasoning (a spicy paprika rub, for instance).
The Wild Card: Cuilleron Viognier IGP – based in Chavanay (just south of Condrieu in the Rhone valley), Yves Cuilleron has been in charge of the estate since 1987, and in that time has created a reputation of being one of the best. The grapes for this Vin de Pay (or IGP as it’s now known) are sourced from vineyards close to the winery and fermented in stainless steel. The wine is then aged for 6 months in small oak barrels and steel. Although not as big as a Condrieu this is still a pretty full-bodied white wine and it will work particularly well if you use a spicier stuffing, or one with soft fruits like apricot.