A great deal will depend on the exact recipe. Now, in New Orleans, we've had both a Viognier, and a Meursault, with the shrimp-n-grits at Ralph's on the Park.
I'd look to something that handles the cream in the grits, and also works with the shrimp. A slightly more acidic Chardonnay from France would be my first choice. Because of the cream in the grits, I'd probably not go to my normal shrimp wines, like a lighter Chard (Chablis), or a Sauvignon Blanc. Again, the exact recipe could make me change my mind.
For a red, I'd likely go with a Pinot Noir, possibly from Burgundy, or OR/WA, and not likely a big fruit-bomb from Santa Rita Hills (though I love those).
A nice Pinot Gris but honestly, I serve always with any meal both red and white. A would do a nice Pinot Gris and a nice Shiraz, light but not too strong. Just my thought. Use your favorites. I have many. But I like red with everything, I dislike white mostly but will drink it. Some other friends only drink white so ... I learned ... serve both.
IMHO neither Chablis or Vacqueyras will work very well. Vacqueyras is far to powerful a wine for the delicate aromas and textures of this dish. An older Chablis might be interesting, but a younger ine may be a bit to austere. I'd go with a wine with a bit of viscosity and richness to compliment the soft, creamy grits and just a touch of natural sweetness and minerality to play off the briney shrimp. I think a 2005 or 2006 Alsace pinot blanc or pinot gris would fit the bill, preferably from Leon Beyer or Albert Mann.
re: Vinny Barbaresco
Found your idea of an Alsatian Pinot Blanc/Gris interesting and, having decided to make classic shirmp and grits -- www.ansonmills.com/recipes-corn-3.htm -- tonight, brought a bottle of the former (from Gérard Schueller, prolly my current favourite Alsatian producer these days; like all his wines, it's got tons of character) back from the cellar. But I had a d'oh moment when I opened the fridge and saw a Savagnin sitting there. Jura's flagship white is celebrated for its pairability (to coin a word) with smoked meats, cream and seafood as well as its trenchant acidity, so it seemed like a natural. My bottle was a 2004 Arbois Pupillin from Overnoy/Houillon, a topped-up Savignin that hadn't been allowed to develop *jaune* flavours, and it worked beautifully. That said, I wonder whether a traditional, oxidized Savagnin or one of the oxidized Savagnin-Chardonnay blends (which often have a corn smell/taste to them) mighn't be even better. Am looking forward to experimenting -- including with that Alsatian Pinot Blanc.
Always a pleasure to read your posts, Carswell.
Educate me, please. Where does the "jaune" flavor come from? The voile (flor), yes, and the concentration from evaporation? (Meaning, the wine isn't topped up.)
I'm also a little confused about the oxidation of this wine. I've heard the jaune flavor ascribed to oxidation, but I wonder how much of that flavor is really flor and concentration. Flor does protect the wine largely, but not entirely, from oxidation,
hence my question. (Perhaps after years of aging, this protection ceases, giving way to the increased oxygen present in the barrel after evaporation has reduced the level of wine.) I've read a bit on this and cannot find a clear answer. Perhaps you know. Also, isn't there some hierarchy in the classification of wines made from the Savagnin grape?
P.S. Looks like a good recipe.
re: maria lorraine
That recipe is an absolute winner, Maria. Greater than the sum of its parts. No peppers, sausage, cheese, cream or other adulterations but, if you can source first-rate ingredients, proof that adulterations are not only not needed but actually muddling distractions.
If I understand your question about jauned Savagnin, you've got the answer right. Not topping up the casks creates a headspace that exposes the wine to air. A veil of yeast -- the voile -- forms, impeding but not completely preventing oxidation. The veil also contributes a flavour of its own, though I would expect that the jaune nuttiness is mainly the result of oxidation (will ask a friend from the Jura about this; if nothing else, I'll be attending a function with Stéphane Tissot in a few weeks and will try to remember to put the question to him).
For true vin jaune, the process continues for six years, during all of which time the veil remains in place and about a third of the wine is lost to evaporation. If the veil is insufficiently vigorous or the wine is otherwise deemed not to be of sufficient quality for vin jaune, the wine is sold as plain Savagnin or blended with Chardonnay.
The official hierarchy is pretty much limited to Savagnin and vin jaune. Certain appellations are considered better than others: L'Étoile is highly regarded for both its Savagnin and its vin jaune, and Château Chalon (which is an appellation, not a chateau, and which is always vin jaune) is generally viewed as the top area. That said, producer often trumps appellation: I'd take an Arbois vin jaune from Rolet over a Château Chalon from Henri Maire any day of the week.
Telling ullaged (topped-up) from unullaged Savagnin by the label isn't always easy. Several producers have started using "Fleur de Savagnin" to refer to their ullaged wine. Stéphane Tissot labels his ullaged wine Traminer and his unullaged wine Savagnin. But some producers don't specify.
re: maria lorraine
Some fine details on voile/flavor relations in the link below.
L'élevage des vins de voile
Les vins de voile sont caractérisés par une technique d’élevage particulière.
Elle est utilisée notamment pour les vins de Xerès, les vins jaunes du Jura, le Tokaï ou les vins de type Sherry.
Les vins de voile sont conservés en fûts pendant plusieurs années sans ouillage. Ils se trouvent donc rapidement au contact de l’air.
Un voile de levures se développe alors sur la surface libre du vin. Il confère au produit des caractéristiques analytiques et organoleptiques spécifiques.
Différents mécanismes entrent en jeu :
- La transformation de l’alcool en acétaldéhyde est une des principales évolutions.
Deux mécanismes interviennent : l’oxydation de l’alcool par l’oxygène de l’air mais surtout son utilisation dans le métabolisme des levures de voile.
Celles-ci utilisent l’éthanol comme source de carbone et l’oxydent en éthanal (acétaldéhyde).
L’acétaldéhyde et d’autres produits apparentés (aldéhydes, acétals) font partie des composants importants de l’arôme des vins de voile : pomme, fruits verts…
- Le sotolon est un des composés les plus caractéristiques de l’arôme des vins de voile. C’est une lactone.
Son odeur extrêmement puissante rappelle la noix et le curry. Son seuil de perception de 10 µg/l est rapidement dépassé au cours de l’élevage sous voile.
Il est formé par une réaction entre l’acétaldéhyde et l’acide alpha cétobutyrique. Ce dernier provient du métabolisme des levures de voile.
- L’autolyse des levures intervient également lors de l’élevage des vins sous voile.
Le voile connaît une régénération constante. Les levures mortes sédimentent au fond du fût et subissent le processus d’autolyse.
La libération permanente d’acides aminés, de peptides et de nucléotides qui en résulte, contribue à l’évolution gustative des vins.
Looking at this recipe I can see how oxidised wines of the Jura might work with this dish. By in large, these wines have the lattitude to complement just about anything.
This got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing!) I like the direction, but I'm not convinced about the path... I really think you've hit on something with using a nutty, oxidised wine, however, as much as I love Savignin, I thought the searing acidity and cool climate profile of these wines might come up a bit shy against sun-drenched Low Country cooking. Why not a nutty oxidised wine from a warmer clime? Perhaps Manzanilla or Amontillado .... I'm quite partial to Hildago "La Gitana" which displays a wonderful briney character that marries well with shrimp ro prawns.
re: Vinny Barbaresco
The sherry possibility had occurred to me, though being a quaffer not a sipper, I'm always a little leery about serving a high-alcohol wine with a thirst-inducing main course. Unfortunately, the only sherry in my house on Saturday was a recently emptied bottle of Lustau's Escuadrilla Amontillado, so I was "stuck" with the Savagnin. Anyway, a friend and I are hoping to order a bunch of Anson Mills heirloom grits and, if we do, chances are good there'll be a cook-off with several bottles opened. As I said, am looking forward to experimenting.