What do you think of when you hear Bordeaux? France, certainly. Row upon row of vines. Left bank and right bank. Cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Highly structured reds that cellar for years, even decades. Fried chicken. Wait, what?
I have been sailing in the Caribbean for four months now, and in that time, wine’s role in my life has obviously changed (along with pretty much everything else). Back home, wine was a staple in our diet, as important as vegetables. Open bottles of wine were as commonplace in our home as beaches are in Antigua (did you know Antigua has 365 beaches?). Nowadays, I try to limit the number of glass bottles on board the boat, as anything breakable can be potentially dangerous, so I generally keep the following:
– 2 bottles of red
– 2 bottles of white
– 1 box of rosé
– 1 bag of rum (rum punch is very popular at sundowners)
To protect the bottles from bashing against each other in spirited seas, we cut off the top of 1.5L water bottles and use the bottoms as wine cozies, a brilliant idea we got from the owner of La Cave de Deshaies, a great little wine shop in Guadeloupe.
All this to say that when it comes to wine pairing, my choices are much more limited than they used to be, and I can no longer just run down to the neighbourhood LCBO to get what I need to go with dinner. Not to mention the fact that in Antigua, where we are at the moment, the tariffs and taxes inflate wine prices so much that I refuse to buy them (my rum consumption has increased in consequence).
So back to the fried chicken. Certain islands have certain culinary specialties, and in Antigua, fried chicken is definitely my favourite. [Side note: KFC integrated fabulously into the Antigua food landscape]. Fried chicken can be acquired from many restaurants, road-side food stands, and grocery stores. So on nights when we don’t feel like cooking, fried chicken often finds its way onto the dinner table.
For our first fried chicken night, I was out of red and Rosé, and had two bottles of the same white wine, leftovers from my St. Barts stash (I generally stock up on wines in the French islands, where wine is still considered a food group and is therefore affordable. Perhaps that is why I feel such a gravitational pull towards these islands).
The white wine in question was the 2015 Cuvée Clémence Cheval Quancard, a Bordeaux blend of sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscadelle.
While Bordeaux may be known for its highly cellarable red wines, its Entre-Deux-Mers appellation typically produces delightful dry white blends of sauvignon blanc, semillon and muscadelle. It has a very desirable location between the region’s two tidal rivers: the Garonne and the Dordogne. [Side note for all you word nerds: while “entre deux mers” does literally mean “between two seas”, here “mer” originally referred to “marées” or tides, so “between two tides”.]
This particular bottle was aged in oak for 6 months, lending it a hint of toast and buttered caramel. The wine’s acidity cut through the delicious oiliness and spices of the fried chicken beautifully, acting as a palate cleanser between each bite, and the flavours of grapefruit, green apple, white peach, grass, minerality and touch of honey were in perfect harmony with the beet and squash sides. The oak provided the wine with enough body and structure to stand up to both the fatty and sweet elements of the meal, and would also help it age for a couple of years in the cellar (if you manage to snag a few bottles). We liked it so much we finished the bottle after dinner over an episode of Black Sails. Nothing like watching a show about pirates while living on a boat! Especially accompanied by a delicious wine!
By the way, if you’re looking for this wine in Canada, you may be able to find it in limited quantities at the SAQ for $16.95.
Happy wining from Antigua!