Wine matching: Poulet Vallée d’Auge



Vouvray Perruches

Tour des Verdots Bergerac

Montus Pacherenc 2010

After sketching out portraits of over 30 different French wine regions for my Living France magazine column, we’ve decided to change the format to something new. Now I’ll be matching three different wines to a specific dish instead, with classic recipes provided by food writer Louise Pickford. First one is Poulet Vallée d’Auge, a creamy chicken and apple dish from Normandy.

Serves 4

125 g diced pancetta
60 g butter
4 chicken thigh pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
4 tbsp calvados
500 ml dry cider
100 ml crème fraiche
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Heat a flame-proof casserole dish until hot, add the pancetta and fry gently until all the fat is released. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add 25 g of the butter to the pan and when melted fry chicken pieces for 5 minutes until really golden. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Add a further 25 g of butter to the pan and gently fry the onion, garlic, thyme and some salt and pepper for 10 minutes until the onion is soft and lightly golden. Return the chicken and pancetta to the pan, add the calvados and simmer gently until burnt off. Stir in the cider, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes until the chicken is beautifully tender.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and fry the apple slices of a medium heat for 5 minutes until golden. Stir into the casserole with the crème fraiche and heat through for 5 minutes. Season to taste and stir in the parsley.

Three wines to match

Domaine des Perruches Vouvray 2013 (£7.99, Co-op)

When looking for a wine to pair with a specific dish, one handy trick is to think of the region where the recipe originates from and consider the local wines. Normandy is much better known for its cider – which would work brilliantly here. But there are plenty of possible wine options too; but whatever you choose it will need plenty of flavour and intensity to match the dish.

One option would be something with a touch of sweetness to match the abundance of apples. Vouvray, from near Tours in the Loire Valley would be a great choice. These Chenin Blancs can be anything from bone dry to intensely sweet. Full-bodied and not far from dry, the Domaine des Perruches Vouvray 2013 has plenty of red apple and honey flavour and a dollop of sweetness that is twinned with a crackle of natural acidity that keeps it refreshing. It’s balanced and authentic, with long-lasting flavour, and just 11.5% alcohol.

Les Tours des Verdots Bergerac Blanc 2012 (£14.75, H2Vin)

Bergerac is situated to the east of Bordeaux, and uses similar grape varieties; here a blend of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris. David Fourtout is the fourth generation of his family to be making wine at Clos des Verdots, and a leading light of the appellation. He practices lutte raisonée viticultural practices to reduce the use of chemical treatments in the vineyard to a minimum.

This is a particularly fine example of white Bergerac with attractive, vivid aromas of preserved lemons and lime skins. It has intense, bright stone fruit and citrus flavours and a long toasty finish.

Château Montus Pacherenc de Vic-Bilh Sec 2010 (£26.50, Hennings Wine Merchants)

South West France is a haven for characterful and peculiar grape varieties. Though some of the wines from this corner of France are almost wilfully odd, some, like Pacherenc de Vic-Bilh, can be totally brilliant. It’s the white wine from the marginally better known region of Madiran, typically made from the potentially excellent Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng grapes, sometimes joined by Petit Courbu and Arrufiac.

Château Montus is one of the greatest estates in South West France; indeed in the whole of France. This, their majestic top white wine, is powerful, long, dry and crisp with flavours of candied citrus peel and grapefruit. Two years in large oak barrels have given the wine added richness that will help it pair brilliantly with this dish.


First published in Living France magazine.