Our Wine of the Week, Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Columbia Valley Viognier ($22), is a stand-out, especially for anyone who loves wine's floral qualities. This wine is a bouquet in a glass, which doesn't mean that it is merely evocative of scented blossoms like honeysuckle and daphne. It is also bright, fresh and young, with all the prettiness of a young girl.
There is plenty of fruit, too, from white peaches, apricots and nectarines to a panoply of tropical fruits, including mangosteen, white pineapple, pomelo and a hint of mango.
All these ethereal flavors are buoyed by just enough oak to round things out and deepen the wine, so that there's an edgy complexity.
The wine has a mouth-filling body, too, a lushness that can serve as the key to the best pairings. Add rich textures and flavors and the wine will soar. It is excellent with mussels, lobster, chicken — including fried chicken — and all manner of Southeast Asian noodle dishes. It's great with roasted beets, though red beets will overpower it, and delicious with roasted parsnips and carrots. It makes a great companion to roasted carrot soup.
For today's recipe, I've taken inspiration from the luscious tagines of Morocco. My version is not quite traditional, but it cozies up beautifully to this wine. It is also flexible; if you do not have, for example, dried mangos, simply leave them out. You can use dried peaches in place of the dried apricots, and if you don't care for cilantro, use all Italian parsley. Also, if you have a tagine — the cooking vessel — use it instead of a Dutch oven or other pot.
Chicken Tagine with Dried Apricots, Chickpeas and Israeli Couscous
Makes 4 to 6 servings
2 tablespoons chicken fat, lard or olive oil
6 to 8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on