In The Kitchen With Ludovic: 2013 Cervaro with Heston’s Perfect Roast Chicken

My lifelong love of food has been crystallized in the past 15 years into what has to be called a borderline unhealthy obsession with cooking, which means I have tested quite a lot of different recipes for Roast Chicken over the years.

For years I found it very difficult indeed to top Jamie Oliver and his “garlic-lemon-and-prosciutto-butter-stuffed-between-the-skin-and-breast” recipe.

A couple of years ago, however, I discovered that Heston Blumenthal had come up with a recipe for his “Perfect Roast Chicken”. In spite of my slight apprehension at the idea of trying out one of his recipes, I got ready to acquire several thousand pounds’ worth of equipment ahead of our Sunday Roast. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that his recipe demands nothing more than a chicken, water and salt.

A simple web search will easily yield the recipe if you should be in a mind to try it for yourself, but basically apart from a little forward planning the process couldn’t be simpler:  brine the bird overnight in salty water, rinse, pat dry then pop in the oven at low temperature for a few hours, rest, and finish off at high temperature for 10 minutes to get the skin crisp.

The result is a revelation – the flavour of the chicken is simple but impressively intense and the meat falls off the bone yet retains superb moisture. It was such a revelation that I haven’t used another recipe since then!

It certainly felt  a potentially perfect match for a bottle of Antinori’s 2013 Cervaro della Sala that I had been looking forward to cracking open for a couple of weeks.

This blend of Chardonnay and Grechetto, aged 5 months in small oak barriques then for another 10 months in bottle, is just the ticket if you love decent white Burgundy yet value a little variety in your life and your cellar. On the nose it is aromatically lifted, mineral with honeyed notes and just a soupçon of very fine oak spice.

The first sip at once delivers a voluminous, mouth-filling impression yet superb freshness and lightness of touch. White flowers and blanched almonds dominate the middle palate, and slowly subside as the citrus and just a hint of truffley, savoury character come to the fore on the seductively creamy and amazingly long finish.

The simple purity of the chicken’s flavour works perfectly as a blank (but not bland!) canvas for this wine to really shine through and show its complexity, whereas the intensity of flavour was perfectly matched in both, with neither food nor wine dominating the other.

A few lovely, crunchy yet fluffy potatoes roasted in goose fat and some steamed and buttered broccoli completed the meal beautifully, and my wife Claire and I thoroughly enjoyed this Sunday dinner, thank you very much.

We can certainly recommend the 2013 Cervaro (and Heston’s chicken…) heartily, it is absolutely gorgeous now and should be glorious with a couple of years’ further ageing.


Published on 12/08/2015 / By Ludovic Surina