My brother and sister-in-law came by this weekend to give me an excuse to open a few good bottles to taste. We decided to fire up the grill as summer wanes to make a cast iron grilled chicken. If you’ve never done this, it’s an awesome way to have a roasted chicken without heating up your house in the summer. We used Melissa Clark’s recipe, but basically you just take a whole chicken, rub some olive oil on it, salt and pepper it well, dislocate the hips so the bird lays flat in the pan, and put it on the grill. It crisps the skin beautifully while keeping the meat nice and juicy. An excellent side with this is ricotta and spinach toast. This is also a Melissa Clark recipe; basically once you take the chicken out of the pan, drop in a bunch of spinach to wilt and soak up some of the delicious pan drippings. Throw a few pieces of bread on the grill to toast and once they are ready smear some ricotta on them and then top them with the wilted spinach. It is a delicious say to get some greens into the meal. Roast chicken offers lots of options for wine pairings also which I like. We started a nice white Burgundy from Jean-Phillipe Fichet. The 2014 Auxey-Duresses is a great value for really high quality white Burgundy. The nose has lovely apple and pear, hints of lemon, minerality and almond/hazelnut notes. The palate is super fresh and crisp with just enough body and round feel to remind you this is actually chardonnay. Excellent with a cheese plate starter. With dinner we had a Cayuse 2012 En Cerise Syrah and a Domaine de la Vougeraie 1999 Vougeot 1er cru Les Cras. The Cayuse was excellent and while a bit young was really tasty. The nose shows some classic Cayuse funk, olive, smoked meat, ripe briary dark fruits, and just a hint of pepper. The palate is rich and full throttle, but has excellent freshness and energy. The tannins are very well integrated already. I think this will be better in 5-10 years, but still excellent today. The Vougeraie was unfortunately slightly corked which threw off the nose. Disappointing because the underlying fruit and material seemed first rate. I have another bottle in the cellar so hopefully that one will be better. All in all, still a lovely night with good food, good wine, and great company. Hard to complain about that!