Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

COS I love you

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Looking through the bottles I had on hand for a wine to go with Saturday’s seasonal dinner, a guinea fowl braised with green figs (recipe after the jump), I ended up with this. While it made a wholly satisfactory pairing, I couldn’t stop thinking that the same estate’s soon-to-arrive just released 2011 Frappato ($24.70, 11695004) would be even better.

Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2009, Classico, Azienda Agricola COS ($29.35, 11577391)
Biodynamically farmed Nero d’Avola (60%) and Frappato (40%) from 18-year-old vines. Temperature-controlled fermentation with indigenous yeasts in concrete vats. Aged in barrels for 18 to 24 months. Bottled unfiltered. 13% ABV.
Ferociously reductive on opening. Righted itself after being vigorously carafed and left to stand for 45 minutes (the last 20 or so in the fridge). Fragrant nose of tart red fruit (cranberry, pomegranate, red currant, cherry) against a backdrop of slate and dried wood. Medium weight with a bordering-on-velvety texture. The lithe fruit (pomegranate again) sweetens on the mid-palate and sours on the finish. Darker, more minerally, even earthy layers emerge as the wine progresses through the mouth. The supple tannins structure the whole and linger astringently. An elegant, complete wine that delivers the same kind of satisfaction as good Burgundies costing half again as much.

Guinea Hen Braised with Green Figs

For the longest time, I resisted meat and fruit combinations, but this recipe and a few others have got me coming around. The bird stays moist and its unique flavour is both complemented and deepened by the faintly sweet-and-sour fig sauce. When selecting the figs, choose flavour over appearance and make sure the fruit is ripe, even overripe. (I use the small, inexpensive Greek figs sold in plastic baskets at farmers’ markets this time of year. The one time I used flawless, plump and pricy California figs, the dish turned out bland and forgettable.) Serve with bulgur or steamed basmati rice, and open a supple, tangy red – an Austrian Pinot Noir, say, or a Frappato from Arianna Occhipinti or COS.

Rinse 500 to 600 g (1 to 1 1/2 lbs) green or white figs. Set aside one for each diner, and cut the rest in half. Rinse and pat dry a smallish guinea fowl. Tie the legs together with string.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a nonreactive Dutch oven over medium high heat. When the foam subsides, brown the guinea fowl on all sides, about 10 minutes in all.

Remove the fowl from the Dutch oven and discard the cooking fat. Return the bird to the pot, add the cut figs, a pinch of salt, a few grindings of pepper, 1/2 cup dry white wine and 1/2 cup water. Bring the liquid to a boil and let it bubble for a minute or two, then turn the heat to very low, cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes. Turn the fowl three or four times as it cooks.

Add the whole figs and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Carefully remove the whole figs and the fowl, and hold them in a turned-off warm oven with its door slightly ajar. Put the cooking juices and fig pulp through a food mill with the fine disk attached or press them through a strainer with the back of a wooden spoon.

Carve the bird. Transfer the meat and whole figs to a warmed serving platter. Nap with the sauce.

Three servings

– Adapted from a recipe in La cuisine mijotée by Monique Maine and Janine Péjan (Paris: F.E.P., 1984)

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Written by carswell

September 21, 2012 at 18:35

3 Responses

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  1. […] tuna or salmon. Am also more convinced than ever that it would make an excellent pairing for that guinea hen braised with green figs. Share […]

  2. […] Long and, above all, remarkably fresh. (Buy again? Yes, despite the 15% price increase from last year’s 2009.) > Probably the most versatile wine of the bunch. Didn’t clash with anything, was […]

  3. […] of wines: Champagne Jacques Lassaigne to start, then COS’s Rami, Frappato, Nero di Lupo, Cerasuolo di Vittoria and Maldafrica, with La Stoppa‘s delightful sparkling Malvasia accompanying […]


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