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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Turley, Merry Edwards, Godelia Match Grilled Chicken In Driveway

Godelia Godello-Donna Blanca 2015 from Italy ($17)
Merry Edwards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2017 from Sonoma County ($48)
Turley Juvenile Zinfandel 2017 from California ($20)

Another Monday, another driveway dinner party. This seems like a very civilized way to shelter in place.

The premise is simple: several neighbors bring our chairs and dinner out to the end of our driveways and eat and talk to each other. The children all have fun running around, and the parents get to have some conversations from a safe distance.

Last Monday I dragged out my large grill again and cooked chicken leg quarters and Georgia Boy sausages for whoever wanted them. The leg quarters are one of my favorite things to grill, and they are dirt cheap. I buy a 40-pound box of quarters from Lanier’s and for only $22 you get 54 or 55 quarters. They’re the nice small ones, so you know the chickens aren’t pumped full of hormones, and they’re tasty.

I learned how to cook them from my dear friend Clint Bryant, athletic director at Augusta University. He and I have done them many times. He usually cooks the chicken for his athletes when they return to school in the fall. I hope the coronavirus doesn’t force him to cancel that. He also cooks for golf teams when they come from around the country for an invitational tournament.

I’ll include the recipe for the chicken at the end of this post. The secret is to season the chicken liberally and cook it slowly at a low temperature.

For our driveway dinner party everyone else brought sides, including mac and cheese, coleslaw, fruit like watermelon and strawberries and a tomato and provolone salad. We had a feast. We served the chicken out of a cooler, which kept it warm and juicy. As each person got his chicken and sides the rest of us stayed a safe distance away.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the chicken, including the children, who were eating it even while riding bikes.

I brought out three wines that also seemed pretty popular: Godelia Godello-Donna Blanca 2015 from Italy ($17), Merry Edwards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2017 ($48) from Sonoma County and Turley Juvenile Zinfandel 2017 from California ($20).

The Godelia was a light, refreshing white wine. It is dry, but with just a hint of sweetness. I loved it with the chicken, and again later as a sipping wine. The grapes are hand-picked and then chilled for 24-48 hours at 23 degrees. The grapes split and maceration begins on the skins. Then the grapes are gently pressed and settled off the lees. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and the wine remains in the tank on the fine lees, with stirring, for five months before bottling.

The Merry Edwards pinot noir is a blend of several vineyards, which may be why it seems so complex. It’s a great combination of smoothness and robust tannins. The tannins are muted, but give the wine some backbone. Cherry and black plums were the main tastes I picked up from this elegant and lively wine. When drinking it your mouth feels like it is full of ripe, juicy fruit.

The Turley Juvenile is the Turley you’re mostly like to find in local wine shops. Most of their wine is sold directly to consumers and to restaurants. Even though this is Turley’s least expensive wine, it still is a blockbuster.

Most of Turley’s wines are single-vineyards bottlings from old vine vineyards. The juvenile is pulled from younger vines planted in several of the winery’s best old vine sites. The grapes are harvested from 18 vineyards and range in age from about 6-25 years.

The vines may not be old, but the wine still has the distinctive Turley feel: deep, rich fruit flavors, a hint of spice and a full mouthfeel. I have never had a bad Turley wine, and if this is the only one you can find at your favorite wine shop, buy it. You’ll want to drink it over and over again.

This was another one of those nights I didn’t want to end. My son Michael and his girlfriend Micheala even joined us. I think it was the leg quarters that lured him in. We all hung out talking and wondering when life would return to normal.

The kids entertained us with various shows they organized, with most of them centered around bike riding. They were extremely cute.

I hope this is a tradition we can keep alive, even after life returns more or less to normal.
(You can click on each photo below to enlarge it.)

Grilled chicken leg quarters

Mop sauce

In a large bowl combine two parts of apple cider vinegar with one part water. The amount of liquid and seasonings depends on how much chicken you will be grilling. Add Morton Nature’s Seasons, Kosher salt, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and brown sugar.

After mixing thoroughly, pour into a pot and boil on the stove for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool. This will be used to mop or spray the chicken as it cooks. If you want to spray, filter out the garlic and pepper flakes before pouring into the spray bottle.

Cooking

Heat the grill to about 250 degrees. Wash off the chicken quarters and sprinkle Morton Nature’s Seasons on them liberally. Place the chicken on the grill and let it cook for 1 1/2-2 hours. Add mop sauce to the chicken every 20-30 minutes, turning the chicken once when it gets a slight char on one side. The length of time for cooking will depend on how cool you can keep the grill. Remove the chicken when the meat starts to pull loose from the bones.

Place the chicken in a closed container, such as a cooler, lined with foil, and spray more mop sauce. The chicken can stay warm in the container for 30 minutes or more, continuing to get softer. You can keep leftover mop sauce in a container in the refrigerator for several weeks.

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