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A nice cold glass of white wine is perfect for these hot summer days. There are so many different white wines out there and so many different styles that it can get a little overwhelming and confusing. We hope that this will serve as your summer white wine guide and will help you to choose a varietal and style that perfectly suits your taste.
In each region where Sauvignon Blanc is grown, the grape and resulting wine expresses a unique set of flavors and styles. Sauvignon Blanc thrives throughout France, and especially within Bordeaux, where it is the prominent grape varietal in Bordeaux Blanc blends and the coveted dessert wines of Sauternes . The climate of Bordeaux allows the Sauvignon Blanc grapes to ripen more slowly than in other areas, giving a wonderful balance between acidity and fruit. The climate is also an important factor in the development of the wine’s aromas. The flavors in these wines are fruitier than those from other regions in France. These wines can also age a bit more than the Sauvignon Blancs that are produced elsewhere.
The Loire Valley is the home of Sancerre, producing some of the most celebrated Sauvignon Blancs in the world. Sancerre is considered an elegant wine that is vibrant and crisp. Sancerre has good fruit and minerals, which combine to make a deep and complex Sauvignon Blanc. The fruit flavors that are typically present in Sancerre are from the citrus family, including lemon, lime and grapefruit. However, when the grapes are really ripe you can taste pear, quince, and apple. The wines that are produced in Sancerre have a good acidity, making them among the most refreshing wines out there.
California Sauvignon Blanc is made in a variety of styles, some of which were inspired by the regions of France. Fume-Blanc is a “French look a-like” that came into being when Robert Mondavi began using oak aging to remove some of the grassy flavors that were showing up in his California Sauvignon Blanc.
The flavors that are present in Sauvignon Blanc/Fume-Blanc, grown in California, tend to be minerally, grassy, and tropical. The wines that show more tropical fruits tend to be mixed with Semillon, which helps add ripe and aromatic fruit flavors. In addition, there are wines produced in California that offer citrus fruit aromas, showing notes of passion fruit, grapefruit, and lemon. On the other hand, the Fume-Blanc style shows melon flavors, as well as some other tropical fruits.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is very tropical and refreshing when the weather is really hot. There is also something about New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs that I really enjoy in general, but especially in the summer. Just like all Sauvignon Blancs that I have covered here, they are bright, refreshing, and crisp. Marlborough is the most well-known area in New Zealand where this grape variety is grown and produced.
A typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is very aromatic with tropical notes of pineapple, passion fruit, grapefruit, melon, gooseberry, and other citrus flavors. Some of these wines can have grassy and floral notes too. The cool climate that the grapes are grown in allows for these flavors to be quite intense, but also gives a good balance between sugars and acidity. Moderate to high acidity is typical for these wines.
Chardonnay is the chameleon of the white wine grapes, having a variety of expressions depending on the region and the winemaker’s influence. Chardonnay is one of the most popular and widely planted white wine grapes in the world. Chardonnay is a native grape varietal to France’s Burgundy region. Consumers always get confused when it comes to Burgundy – red or white. It seems confusing with the different appellations within a village, the many different growers within the same vineyard, and then of course you sprinkle in the negociant. When it comes to White Burgundy, the first thing you need to know is that 95% percent of the time, the white wines produced there are made from Chardonnay! And Burgundy produces some of the finest and most age worthy Chardonnays in the world. Depending on the area of Burgundy, the flavors that can arise range from citrus fruit to licorice and spice notes, and can be rich and creamy in style or very racy and brisk. Chablis is perhaps the most distinctive expression of Chardonnay within Burgundy. View all White Burgundy available on our website.
Chablis will always be 100% Chardonnay, no blending of any kind. Because of the cool climate that the grapes are grown in, Chablis is always refreshing and very crisp, but don’t let that fool you, Chablis can be aged. Expressing a deep mineral character in its youth, the wine tends to softens with age and develop floral and honeyed notes. Another typical characteristic of young Chablis is a green apple-like acidity, as well as a flinty-mineral flavor.
California is another popular Chardonnay producing region. California Chardonnay tends to be fuller-bodied in style, filling the palate with rich flavors and textures. Chardonnay is wonderfully versatile, which is why it works so well for all seasons!
Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio is a mutant form of the Pinot Noir grape. The grapes can actually have a purplish hue, although the wine produced is light in color. This is a wonderful warm weather wine and is sure to cool you off on a hot summer afternoon. It tends to be light to medium-bodied in style and is usually very pale in color. It is extremely bright, crisp, and refreshing. Pinot Gris thrives in Alsace, California and Oregon, while Italy is known for Pinot Grigio. View all Pinot Grigio available on our website.
Italian Pinot Grigio is very bright and clean. It is very light in color and in body. Sometimes there is an effervescent feel to an Italian Pinot Grigio. This makes the wine elegant and delicate, which means you want to drink it in its youth.
Pinot Gris is a major grape varietal in Alsace, and is very different from the Pinot Gris/Grigio that is found everywhere else. These wines have very intense flavors, because of the long autumn season, which allows for the grapes to ripen very slowly. The Alsatian Pinot Gris is medium-bodied and can be aged for longer than those of Italy and the United States. Alsatian Pinot Gris can have a nice spice flavor to it, which is unique to this variety. In general, Pinot Grigio makes a great cooler for the hot weather!
Picture this: you are sitting outside; it’s hot but not unbearably humid. You have a chilled glass of white wine in your hand which reveals an occasional sweat bead dripping down the smooth crystal of the glass. What do you have in your hand? A fabulous Chablis. More specifically, Vincent Dampt’s 2008 1er Cru Chablis Vaillons $25/btl.
When you give this glass of Chardonnay its first little swirl to lift those aromas to your nose, you get a fresh and cool bouquet with florals, spice and some earthy tones. Now take a sip. There is balance and purity in the wine showcasing lemon zest notes, with the finish lingering in a pleasant mineral explosion. Hopefully, as you are sitting outside with that glass in hand, you just happen to have some pan-seared scallops, pepper and garlic marinated prawns, or oysters with a fresh shallot sauce. Really, any type of shellfish is quite a treat with this Chablis.
The origin of this wine and its namesake, is the famed Burgundy town of Chablis. Vincent Dampt’s estate, producing solely Chablis wines, makes up slightly less than 3 hectares and lays along the left bank of the Serein River. The vineyards are planted in Chablis’ famous Kimmeridgian soil; a mix of clay, chalk and marine fossils which provide the wines with their beautiful minerality.
Born into a family of winemakers, Vincent developed an interest in the wine industry at the young age of 14, when he enrolled himself into a Beaune wine school. Vincent was able to broaden his wine knowledge by training in the Jura, working with Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet, and travelling overseas to work in New Zealand’s Marlborough region. He then returned home to France and began producing wines with his father in 2002, until 2004, when he inherited some pieces of land. At that point, he began producing wines under his own name, Vincent Dampt.
Getting back to the glass that you are ideally still holding, I would like to pass on several tasting tips particular to Chablis wines.
-Temperature: For a Chablis Premier Cru in particular, the ideal serving temperature is 50-53 degrees Fahrenheit.
-Opening the bottle: Make sure to cut the cap under the ring of the bottle neck so that the wine does not touch the cap when it is poured.
-Glassware: Serve the wine in a specific Chablis glass which has a tulip shape with a narrower opening. This shape will allow the wine to access the palate in the perfectly precise way so that the flavors are enhanced to their maximum potentials.
For those of you who were unable to attend our Domaine Joseph Drouhin wine dinner at the ‘21’ Club on June 26th, don’t worry, I am here to give you the scoop. I’ll take you through the journey of delicious courses created by executive chef John Greeley and a mouthwatering array of nine wines produced by Domaine Joseph Drouhin. Just a heads up, I highly recommend reading this with a glass of wine in hand.
Our Drouhin dinner took place in the private dining room on the second floor of the ‘21’ Club, strategically named Upstairs at ‘21’. As guests began to trickle in, the pleasantly chilled 2009 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis was offered, a delightful pair for the various passed hors d’oeuvres, including a fresh lobster salad in a beautiful cone cracker, delicate smoked salmon toasts, and mini burger bites.
As our final guests arrived, we were seated at our tables, each placement adorned with the proper fine dining utensils and an overwhelming set of eight wine glasses, begging to be filled. Before our first course was served, we were greeted by our host, Laurent Drouhin, great grandson of the founder Joseph Drouhin, and one of four children at the helm of the estate. As the first wines were served, we had the privilege of receiving a mini lesson by Laurent on the Burgundy region, appellations, grape varieties, and of course, a little background on Domaine Joseph Drouhin. If only all classrooms were this way!
Our first two wines were the 2009 Meursault and 2009 Puligny-Montrachet, two delightful village Chardonnays which were paired perfectly with the fresh soft shell crab dish showcasing tender baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes and an herb-basil pesto. Both wines were crisp, with the Meursault expressing more yellow stone fruits, citrus and florals on the palate and the Puligny-Montrachet with slightly less sweetness and more spiced pear notes, lemon and minerality tones.
Next on the menu was lightly seared tuna with grilled prawns in a wasabi pea purée which accompanied the 2009 Chassagne-Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche and 2009 Beaune Clos des Mouches Blanc. At this point in the dinner, monsieur Drouhin stood up to explain the two wines and this routine ensued throughout the rest of the evening. The Marquis de Laguiche was packed with different rich and round flavors spanning hazelnuts, ripe fruit and creamy butter. Similarly, the Clos de Mouche Blanc portrayed a blend of flavors, but with a different flavor profile, revealing a swirl of stone fruits, and firm acid and minerality that danced on the palate.
The amusement of our taste buds continued with the third course, a scrumptious pork dish lying lazily on a bed of red rice drizzled in the pork’s jus. It was a comforting dish with a genial medley of flavors, but none too overwhelming or overpowering. Along with the pork dish, we made the transition to Drouhin’s Pinot Noir selections and said farewell to our Chardonnay glasses, though many of us chose to keep them at our place settings to revisit as the wines continued to evolve. Our two picks for this dish were the 2009 Chambolle-Musigny and the 2008 Gevrey-Chambertin. This is where I found my personal piece de résistance, the Chambolle-Musigny. It was the perfect match with the pork, intertwining its balanced tannins, and subtle cherry and candied fruit flavors perfectly with the tender meat. The 2008 Gevrey-Chambertin was also dressed to impress, showcasing a velvety texture also with balanced tannins and more peppery and spicy flavors.
Despite my elation from the food and wine endorphins, a slight sadness settled over me as I realized that we were reaching the final course of the meal. The four selections of cheeses were accompanied by the last two Drouhin Pinot Noirs: the 2009 Volnay Clos des Chênes and the 2008 Beaune Clos des Mouches Rouge, each sporting red fruit aromas, but with the Volnay Clos des Chênes showcasing refined tannins with plums and floral fruity flavors that lingered on the finish, and the Clos des Mouches Rouge portraying an earthy and firm body with tart rhubarb, some spice, as well as sweet and silky fruit.
The amazing combination of exquisite wines and gourmet dishes in an atmosphere both informative and relaxing was utterly mind-blowing, and an experience to remember. Now if you’re feeling hungry, I apologize for exciting your salivary glands, but if I have portrayed the slightest notion of this delectable dinner to you, I am satisfied. If you feel that this is the kind of event and experience that you don’t want to miss out on, we host a number of events every year that you can choose from. We have several great dinners lined up in the fall, our next one on the list being the Chateau Palmer Dinner at Aureole in September. Stay posted for more events to come!
Le Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet first saw mediocre success under the ownership of poet-vigneron Roland Thevenin in the 1950’s and during the 30 or so years that followed. In 1985, he sold the property to the Chablis firm Laroche, which several years later passed on the estate to Credit Foncier, a subsidiary of Caisse d’Epargne, who produced commercially-popular wines. Then, in 2002, BNP banker Etienne de Montille took over as director of the estate and the makeover ensued. His first major move was to transition to organic and biodynamical viticulture, which he successfully achieved by 2005. Additionally, under Etienne’s reign, the Domaine has grown from 15 to 21 hectares (37 to 51 acres) of healthy, fruitful vineyards. Not only did he work deliberately at transforming this estate, he also began taking a more active role in his family vineyard in Volnay, Domaine Hubert de Montille.
The Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet estate covers 23 appellations in the Burgundy region including some prestigious ones such as Chassagne-Montrachet and Nuits-St.-Georges. Most of the production consists of Chardonnay wines, although 7 out of the 20 hectares are dominated by the noble Pinot Noir. The 2009 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Bourgogne Blanc Clos du Chateau $24/btl is a product of 4.5 hectares (slightly more than 11 acres) of vineyards in the heart of le village of Puligny-Montrachet, one of the best Chardonnay-producing areas in the world. The “Bourgogne” title, whether rouge or blanc, covers wines that are produced in locations that do not have specific appellations and can be produced from grapes in one or more of 300 communes.
With the first swirl of this lightly golden wine, wafts of lemon verbena, straw and ripe citrus first awaken the nose. On the palate, floral notes and minerality are present with slight acidity and a long finish to bring an overall harmonious presentation in the mouth. Grab a bottle to see for yourself!
It’s not often that you get the chance to taste a Chardonnay from Burgundy’s Cote-Chalonnaise village of Mercurey, given that 90% of the village’s output consists of vin rouge. Citrus and fruit aromas are the first to tingle the nose on this Joseph Faiveley Mercurey Blanc Clos Rochette 2008 $25/btl followed by a light smokiness and wet stone. On the palate, notes of minerality and florals are distinct and crisp. The silkiness that ensues in the mouth gives it an extremely smooth finish, bringing along with it notes of pineapple and sweet apples.
At $25 per bottle, this Chardonnay is a great pick for a warm summer night dinner or barbeque, and pairs nicely with a variety of seafood dishes. Below you can find a grilled shrimp kabob recipe from Chef Billy Della Ventura to pair with this gem. All you need to do is fire up that grill, assemble your kabobs and pop a bottle of Faiveley’s Clos Rochette to enjoy a wonderfully paired and simply delicious meal.
Now for a little background and a brief history lesson…
Domaine Faiveley was founded by Pierre Faiveley in 1825.The Domaine’s reputation took hold in the early 19th century when many Burgundian wine producers began traveling to Northern Europe to trade their wines for textiles.Today, the Domaine rests in the hands of seventh generation Erwan Faiveley.The family owns vineyards in some of the most prestigious appellations such as Pommard, Gevrey-Chambertin, Volnay and Puligny-Montrachet, among others. Several climats are owned exclusively by the family including Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos des Issarts, Beaune 1er Cru Clos de L’Ecu, and the Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru. Not bad, right?
There has been a distinct chill in the air and the east coast has already seen a significant snowstorm. There’s no denying that winter, and the holidays, are fast approaching. While I’m not necessarily looking forward to the biting cold days ahead, I’m eagerly awaiting the holiday season! The next two months promise to be filled with plenty of feasting, celebration and a steady flow of delicious wine…merriment that will stave off winter’s hold for a while, at least.
With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, family chefs across the nation have already begun planning their menus and experimenting with new recipes. The beauty of Thanksgiving, the reason that it tops my list of favorite holidays, is that it is a celebration of food and family. Not only does the holiday give gourmands more reason than ever to run wild in the kitchen, it is a welcome opportunity for oenophiles to show their stuff too. The cooks are already ahead of the game. It’s time for us wine lovers to plan our attack and seek out the very best wine pairings for the grandest of feasts. So wine lovers, what will you bring to the Thanksgiving table this year?
Pairing wines with Thanksgiving dinner is easier than one might think. The meal itself features abundant flavorful side dishes, all with a gorgeous, simply roasted turkey as the centerpiece. One could argue that just about any wine can work with Thanksgiving, due to the vastness of the meal and diversity of flavors within, but there are certain wines that elevate this feast, bringing it to a whole new level. Here are our suggestions for some truly knockout Thanksgiving wine pairings…
Wine Pairings for Hors d’oeuvres and First Courses
The wine you choose for kicking-off your Thanksgiving feast should have some bubbles! Champagne or sparkling wine makes an ideal pairing for hors d’oeuvres ranging from charcuterie and cheese plates, to soups and salads. Cheese almost always makes its way into the appetizers for a large party and the refreshing acidity and bubbles in sparkling wine cut right through the richness and saltiness of any assortment of cheeses, from Brie to Stilton. This Thanksgiving, we’ve selected several champagnes and domestic sparkling wines for Turkey Day pairings:
NV Henriot Brut Souverain ($50) – Recently awarded 93 points from Wine Spectator, this champagne has long been one of our favorites. A blend of 50% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and 50% Pinot Noir from Montagne de Reims, the Brut Souverain is aged in the quiet darkness of Champagne Henriot’s Gallo-Roman crayeres. These dramatic cellars, unique to the Champagne region, are carved out of chalk 60 feet underground and provide optimal aging conditions. Upon release, the Brut Souverain has been aged to perfection. Its rich, elegant style is lovely as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to variety of dishes from hors d’oeuvres straight through to a fruit-based dessert.
NV Delamotte Brut Blanc de Blancs ($55) – This vivacious champagne, made from 100% Chardonnay, has satisfying richness while being exquisitely elegant at the same time. Delamotte has been producing champagne since 1760 and is the sister house to renowned Champagne Salon. Situated in the grand cru commune Mesnil-Sur-Oger amongst the finest Champagne producing vineyards, Champagne Delamotte is a reflection of this unique, exceptional terroir. The style of this blanc de blancs is well suited to Thanksgiving festivities.
Look no further than New York State for some sensational sparkling wines that are wonderful for Thanksgiving and the holiday season. The Chateau Frank sparkling wines are the very best in quality and offer enticing value as well. For a truly American holiday like Thanksgiving, it is only fitting to show off some of our country’s finest wines…
2006 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs Finger Lakes ($29) – This blanc de blancs is one of our new favorite 100% Chardonnay sparkling wines from Finger Lakes producer Dr. Frank. This bubbly has a sublime voluptuous froth, great complexity, elegant flavors of honeysuckle, citrus and ginger, all undercut with refreshing, zippy acidity that make it the ideal companion for appetizers and first courses.
NV Chateau Frank Célèbre Rosé Finger Lakes ($20) – The festive color of this sparkling rosé will look stunning on your Thanksgiving Day table and in the hands of your dinner guests. Made from 100% estate grown Pinot Meunier grapes and crafted in the traditional French Crémant style, this sparkling rosé offers rich raspberry and strawberry aromas, lush cherry flavors and beautiful, delicate bubbles.
Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving Dinner
As I mentioned before, I’ve always thought it was nice to feature a few American wines at Thanksgiving. Red Zinfandel is the first wine that comes to mind, especially since it has an interesting immigration story of its own. Let’s be clear, we are not talking about semi-sweet, pink-colored White Zinfandel, which has managed to disgrace the grape’s name. In stark contrast, the Zinfandels that I adore are rich, robust, red wines that sing aromas of ripe briar fruit, dark cherries, currants and spice. They are big, intense wines that pair well with a variety of foods. These wines are akin to the gravy for your Thanksgiving bird.
The history of America’s Zinfandel can be traced to roots in Croatia, where it is named Crljenak Kaštelanski, then to Italy, where it is Primitivo. The grape was brought to the Boston area in the early 19th century, by the Austrian Imperial Nursery, and named Zinfandel (a name whose origins are unclear). By the mid 19th century, the grape had made its way to sunny California, where it was a popular table grape and dried for sweet raisins. A few years later, California recognized Zin as viable for winemaking, and adopted the grape as a signature American varietal.
Zinfandel has extensive heritage in America, and an immigration story that reaches far beyond our borders. The lush fruit character and versatility of these wines make them an ideal pairing for your turkey along with all the trimmings.
The Zinfandel to pour this Thanksgiving is the 2009 Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel Geyserville ($35). Wine Advocate critic Antonio Galloni praises this impressive wine, awarding it with an attractive score of 94 points.
“The 2009 Geyserville is a gorgeous wine. It shows expressive inner perfume, sweet black cherries, menthol and minerals. This is an understated, exceptionally elegant red endowed with considerable finesse and fabulous overall balance. A round, sensual finish makes it impossible to resist a second taste…” – Antonio Galloni
Pinot’s beautiful cherry fruit aromas and flavors, combined with its characteristic earthy quality, make it just perfect for Thanksgiving menus. Harvest season ingredients such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, roasted root veggies, nuts and dried berries are all accentuated by the character of Pinot Noir. Those Pinots from the West Coast (California, Oregon and Washington State) tend to be more fruit-forward, which is a great complement for turkey meat. Pinots from Burgundy are often lighter bodied with an earthy-minerally quality, quite similar to the character of the ingredients that show up on the Thanksgiving table. Any of the Pinots listed below will work marvelously with your feast…
2009 Capiaux Cellars Pinot Noir Widdoes Vineyard Russian River Valley ($35) – A delicious and sweet-fruited single-vineyard Pinot Noir with lush berry flavors, earthy undertones, full juicy body and a smooth, rich texture. Sean Capiaux, owner and winemaker of Capiaux Cellars, is a Pinot Noir expert with an impressive winemaking resume, including Jordan, Pine Ridge and Peter Michael in California and Houghton Winery in Australia.
2008 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Yamhill Cuvee Willamette Valley ($37) – With its dark fruit, black cherry, lively spice notes and impeccable structure, your bird is calling for the Yamhill Cuvee this Thanksgiving. Domaine Serene Winery and Vineyard was founded in 1989 by husband and wife team, Ken and Grace Evenstad. The Evenstad’s are advocates for sustainable farming, practicing dry farming techniques on their vineyards, meaning that they never use artificial irrigation or tap into local rivers to water their vines. Domaine Serene specializes in world class Pinot Noirs, while also producing excellent Chardonnay and Syrah.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we can get enough of 2009 Burgundy. They are simply irresistible. Don’t feel guilty about uncorking them this Thanksgiving…even if their projected prime is still a few years away!
2009 Domaine Michel Magnien Bourgogne Rouge ($25) – Rich black cherry and blackcurrant aromas and flavors are dressed up with baking spices and subtle floral aromas. You’ll hear, “Please pass the Burgundy” more than anything else with this stellar Pinot on the table.
2008 Domaine Bernard Moreau Bourgogne Rouge ($20) – This is exceptional red Burgundy for the price. Lovely red cherry aromas give way to an earthy accent of briar patch. The vibrant acidity and lengthy satisfying finish make this a superb choice for the Thanksgiving feast.
White Wine Options
Aromatic white wines work especially well with Thanksgiving dinner for several reasons. Grapes such as Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling can be vinified into dry wines that have slight amounts of residual sugar. This hint of sweetness, combined with the fragrant and sometimes tropical aromas and flavors in the wine, pairs wonderfully with Thanksgiving Day spreads, which often incorporate sweet elements as well (think sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce). Meanwhile, the naturally high acidity of these types of wine is the perfect foil for rich, hearty dishes.
Chardonnay is another excellent option for Thanksgiving and a classic pairing for roasted turkey. You can go with either a white Burgundy or a new world Chardonnay with subtle oak influence.
2009 Breggo Cellars Pinot Gris Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley ($27) Located in Northern California’s rustic, pastoral Anderson Valley, Breggo Cellars specializes in stunning wines from Alsatian varietals – Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Breggo means “sheep” in the local dialect, homage to the area’s native population of sheep. The winery property, a 203-acre farm, was one of the first sheep ranches in Anderson Valley. This small production (only 350 cases produced), single-vineyard Pinot Gris offers delightful notes of pear, baked apple and honey, with a touch of candied lemon peel. Rich and medium-bodied, flavors of apricot preserves, melon and Meyer lemon dance on the palate.
2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley ($27) – This exotic and enticing wine shows opulent aromas of orange zest, lychee, honeysuckle and rose, enhanced by notes of sweet lemon and apricot. Elegant and refreshing on the palate, bright tropical flavors mingle with zippy acidity and a long, lovely finish. Only 398 cases made.
2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Clos Baudoin ($25) – Crafted in a range of styles from bone dry to sweet, François Chidaine’s Chenin Blancs share an ethereal quality and great complexity. A brilliant wine with aromas of lemon rind, honey suckle, citrus blossom and white pepper; on the palate, the tangy character is accompanied by honeyed citrus flavors, with hints of bitter almond skin. The finish lingers gracefully. A truly exceptional wine with the resounding acidity and brightness needed to emphasize the elements of Thanksgiving’s banquet.
2008 Ramey Wine Cellars Chardonnay Russian River Valley ($28) – “Bright yellow. Precise, mineral-driven aromas of pear, spicecake, iodine and wet concrete, along with a sexy floral aspect. At once tactile and fine-grained, with subtle smokiness giving depth to the flavors of Meyer lemon, minerals and candied ginger. Tightens up toward the back, finishing quite suave, with strong lift and cut to its ginger-laced orchard fruit flavors.” – Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, 91 pts
2008 Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault Genevrières ($85) “As it almost always is, here the nose is spicier still and more refined as well with striking complexity adding compelling interest to the floral, citrus and white fruit aromas. The rich, concentrated and classy flavors possess plenty of extract that confers a seductive texture that carries over to the impressively long and harmonious finish. This is unmistakably at another level, at least at this early juncture.” – Burghound, 92 pts
Rosé is one of my favorite wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. Not only is the wine’s color cheerful and festive, the characteristic red berry flavors make it the ideal choice for Thanksgiving. Incredibly food friendly, Rosé provides the best of both worlds, combining the brisk acidity and refreshing quality of a white wine with the body and structure of a red wine, making it compatible with a range of dishes. To quote Julia Child, “Rosés can be served with anything.” The versatility of the wines below make them perfect pairings for Thanksgiving’s bounty, complimenting everything from the mashed yams to the stuffing.
Steal! 2010 Mulderbosch Vineyards Rose Stellenbosch ($12) – This is a dark cranberry-colored, robust and refreshing rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon, showcasing complex aromas and flavors of rose petals, lime zest and wild strawberry.
2010 Prieure de Montezargues Tavel Rosé ($21) – Enticing style and finesse, showcasing raspberry and subtle peach aromas. On the palate, red berry flavors mingle with Provencal herbs and spices, resounding in the full-body, freshness and length of this gorgeous wine.
2010 Bieler Pere et Fils Sabine Rose Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence ($14) – Aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry and wild strawberry shine, along with racy minerality and bright, food friendly acidity. Charles Bieler has been crafting his delicious Provençal rosé, Bieler Père et Fils Sabine, for the last 5 years. Named for his daughter, Sabine, who was born the same year as the wine’s first vintage, this rosé honors Charles’ father, Philippe, who introduced he and his sister to the wine business. This rosé continues the Bieler family reputation that was built over 13 years at Chateau Routas and the last three years with Three Thieves.
The Wine Cellarage is proud to participate in the Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Celebrity Golf Challenge. We have partnered with Cape Classics, the leading US importer of South Africa’s finest wines, to feature a selection from their superb portfolio of wines on the evening of the golf challenge. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste the wines and to learn about them from our Cape Classics representative.
The Wine Cellarage is pleased to announce that for two weeks following the event, 20% of gross purchase price from any purchases of the featured wines will be donated to Autism Speaks. In addition, several of our partners will be donating fine wines for the silent auction to be held the evening of the event.
Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Golf Challenge
Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Celebrity Golf Challenge will be held on June 20, 2011 at the highly acclaimed Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY. Among the attendees at this important event will be renowned celebrities from entertainment, sports and media. Golfers will play their rounds on Winged Foot’s demanding East and West courses and will have the chance to participate in several course contests.
After golfing has finished, the evening program will commence, including both live and silent auctions. These auctions will feature unique get-aways, signed sports memorabilia, soothing spa treatments, fashion items and fine wine. For more information please contact Elizabeth Irving at email@example.com. For an event recap and to see photos from last year’s Celebrity Golf Challenge, click here.
About Autism Speaks
Founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism, Autism Speaks has since grown to be the largest autism science and advocacy organization in the United States, devoted to funding the research of causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism. Autism Speaks has worked diligently to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and is the leading advocate for the needs of the individuals and families struggling with autism. This organization gives hope to all those affected by autism.
We are thrilled to be pouring the following outstanding South African wines on the evening of the Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Celebrity Golf Challenge and to make a contribution to this wonderful cause.
2010 Mulderbosch Vineyards Rose Stellenbosch – Mulderbosch Vineyards, situated in the Stellenbosch Hills area outside of Stellenbosch, South Africa, is widely accepted as one of the very best white wine producers in the country. Their delicious, refreshing 100% Cabernet Sauvignon rosé showcases complex aromas and flavors of rose petals, lime zest and wild strawberry. This rosé is ideal for summertime quaffing!
Glenelly Estate Wines
Located in Stellenbosch, the Glenelly estate’s heritage goes back to the 17th century. May-Eliane de Lencquesaing purchased the property in 2003, after running the famed Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande for 30 years prior. May de Lencquesaing is renowned for the wines of her Pauillac Grand Cru Classé Chateau and has upheld the same level of excellence at Glenelly.
2010 Glenelly Chardonnay The Glass Collection Stellenbosch – The Glass Collection was inspired by antique glass pieces from May de Lencquesaing’s private collection. The Glass Collection Chardonnay showcases invigorating aromas of peach, citrus and ginger. Crisp and refreshing on the palate, this lovely Chardonnay has an enduring finish.
2007 Glenelly Grand Vin de Glenelly – The estate’s signature red blend, Grand Vin de Glenelly offers elegant, complex aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, plum, spices and hints of toasted hazelnut. On the palate, this wine has a rich intensity that is harmoniously balanced by refreshing brightness and great structure.
2007 Rustenberg John X Merriman Stellenbosch – A blend of five Bordeaux varietals (48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc & 3% Malbec), the John X Merriman is one of South Africa’s most legendary wines. Named for the Prime Minister of the Cape who, in the late 1800s, bought and refurbished part of the historical Rustenberg estate, this wine is rich with cherry and licorice flavors that mingle seductively with smoky tobacco and spice notes.
The Rustenberg estate has enjoyed an illustrious, albeit tumultuous, wine-making history that dates back to 1682, when the land was first recognized for grape-growing potential by a German man named Roelof Pasman. The estate flourished for the first half of the 19th century, but faced hardship when recession came and disease struck the vines. In 1892, the Cape’s Prime Minister, John X Merriman rescued the estate and helped to restore it to it’s early glory. Wine has been consistently bottled at the estate ever since.
Peter and Pamela Barlow purchased the Rustenberg estate in 1941, passing it on to their son, Simon, who has taken over operations. Although among South Africa’s oldest wine estates, Rustenberg boasts one of the Cape’s most modern cellars. Rustenberg produces long-lived, depthy wines, crafted through a marriage of technology with the art of tradition. Rustenberg wines are exemplary of the Stellenbosch region’s excellence.
Memorial Day has always been one of my favorite holiday weekends, the unofficial start of the summer season. The official turning of the season may be a few weeks away still, but these long, hot sunny days and warm, pleasant nights sure have me fooled, and I couldn’t be more thankful. It’s time to break out the whites in our wardrobe and to fill our glasses with light, bright, refreshing summer wines.
Here at Wine Cellarage, we’ve compiled a selection of great summer wines that we’re thrilled to share with you. These wines have been chosen for their excellent quality and great value. They are sure to keep you cool and quenched all season long without draining your summer vacation fund! There are certain wines that go hand-in-hand with the summer season, classic choices that will never go out of style, including Rosé, Prosecco, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. In addition to these classics, we’ve added some slightly more unusual wines to our summer wine collection. Among them, delicious Chenin Blancs from the Loire Valley, a Gewurztraminer from Northern California and a fantastic Methode Traditionelle sparkler from New Zealand.
Our homage to the summer season doesn’t stop with our exciting portfolio of summery wines. This year, we’ve partnered with Eating Vine, a new recipe sharing and wine pairing community, to create three different Summer Wine Packs. Each pack is an intriguing wine tasting adventure, filled with six carefully selected wines from Wine Cellarage and paired with amazing recipes from Eating Vine!
Our Summer Wine Packs are a great way to stock-up on crisp, cooling summer wines, such as Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Prosecco and even Champagne. Perfect for picnics, parties and gifts, the delicious recipe pairings will make entertaining easy, breezy and elegant all summer long.
Here’s a closer look at our summer wine collection…
There’s no better way to welcome the warm weather and to kick off the summer ahead than by opening the season’s first bottle of crisp, refreshing berry-scented rosé. Rosé is the ideal wine for summer barbecue’s and parties. Incredibly food friendly, Julia Child put it best when she said, “Rosés can be served with anything!” As you gear up for summer entertaining, don’t forget the rosé! Perfect pairings include barbecue flavors, sausage, hamburgers, and just about anything on the grill – veggies, fish, shrimp, pork and so on. And of course, fresh salads and side dishes get along incredibly well with this cool, crisp rosy wine!
One of the best rosé values out there comes to us from an award-winning South African producer, Mulderbosch Vineyards. Renowned as one of the country’s very best white wine producers, Mulderbosch makes two highly regarded reds and an excellent 100% Cabernet Sauvignon rosé. The 2010 Mulderbosch Vineyards Rosé Stellenbosch ($12) is a delicious, refreshing rosé, showcasing complex aromas and flavors of rose petals, lime zest and wild strawberry.
The 2010 Domaine Saint Ser Cotes de Provence Saint Victoire Rosé Prestige ($21) is an elegant rosé, offering lovely aromas of wild red berries, hints of watermelon and lemon zest; a perfect pairing for traditional Provencal meals like Bouillabaisse. This wine definitely has the structure to stand up to substantial dishes. (I paired this with grilled sausage and peppers last weekend and it was wonderful!) The Domaine Saint-Ser is located in the Saint Victoire sub-appellation of the Côtes de Provence and is home to a small number of elite producers.
The 2010 Bieler Père et Fils Sabine Rosé Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence ($14) is the perfect summertime quaff, showing aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry and wild strawberry, along with racy minerality and bright acidity. You’ll want to drink this rosé every chance you get this summer. Charles Bieler has been crafting his delicious Provençal rosé for the last 5 years. Named for his daughter, Sabine, who was born the same year as the wine’s first vintage, this rosé honors Charles’ father, Philippe, who introduced he and his sister to the wine business.
Sauvignon Blancs are the perfect coolers for hot summer weather. Their vibrant, zesty character, citrus aromas, herbal notes and crisp acidity make them a classic choice for summertime imbibing. Sauvignon Blanc is best consumed within a few years of its release, while youthful, fruity and refreshing. This native French varietal is the main constituent of white Bordeaux and is widely planted in the Loire Valley, most notably in the regions of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.
This year we can’t get enough of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Craggy Range wine estate makes one of our favorite Sauvignon Blancs. Owned and operated by the Peabody family, Craggy Range specializes in exceptional single-vineyard wines that are true to their terroir. The 2009 Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($19) is from their Te Muna Road Vineyard in Martinborough and is produced from vines that grow on stony, limestone-rich soils. Minimal cellar intervention results in an elegant Sauvignon Blanc with a delicate, soft texture and mineral undertones.
Another favorite from New Zealand is the 2010 Cloudy Bay Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($27). Located in the Wairau Valley of Marlborough, Cloudy Bay’s vineyards benefit from the cool, maritime climate bestowed by the South Pacific. This sustainable, environmentally conscious wine estate single-handedly pushed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc into the spotlight. Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc delivers classic characteristics of ripe lime and grapefruit, along with a remarkable tropical medley of papaya, mango, orange blossom and gooseberry. Vibrant and refreshing, this is just what the doctor ordered on a hot summer afternoon and makes an ideal accompaniment for the fresh flavors, herbs and spices of Asian cuisine.
While we love New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, we’ll always have a taste for those from the Loire Valley. Pascal Jolivet is one of the Loire’s youngest estates producing exceptional Sauvignon Blancs. Established in 1987, Domaine Pascal Jolivet is devoted to natural winemaking and sustainable techniques. Based in Sancerre, the estate owns over 70 acres of the best vineyards in the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. The 2009 Pascal Jolivet Sauvignon Blanc Attitude ($17) offers floral and citrus aromas, bright acidity and minerality on the palate. This delightful wine drinks like a Sancerre at half the price.
If it is true Sancerre that you’re after, the 2010 Domaine des Vieux Pruniers Sancerre Blanc ($20) is a wonderful, affordable option. Domaine des Vieux-Pruniers is located in the village of Bué, a few short miles from Sancerre. Here the grapes grow on incredibly steep, hillside vineyards renowned for their limestone-rich soils. This is a quintessential Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc – clean and pure, showing aromas of citrus fruit and blossoms, zesty lime and orange flavors and brisk minerality that lingers on the palate.
Chardonnay is the chameleon of the grape varietals, thriving in a range of climates and crafted in a variety of styles. Relatively neutral in character, Chardonnay is easily influenced by its environment and the winemaker’s techniques. For these reasons, it is one of the most popular and widely planted white wine grapes in the world. Native to France’s Burgundy, Chardonnay is the only grape variety permissible in Chablis and one of three grapes varieties used in Champagne. Outside of France, Chardonnay has flourished in the New World wine regions, growing happily in California, Chile, South Africa, Australia and beyond.
Chablis is always a refreshing choice for summertime and perfect for pairing with lighter dishes, especially seafoods. The 2009 Domaine Gilbert Picq et Ses Fils Chablis Vieilles Vignes ($25), made from fifty year old vines, is a classic Chablis with plenty of zippy minerality and pure fruit character.
The 2009 Bouchard Pere et Fils Bourgogne Blanc ($18) is a great summer Chardonnay from Burgundy – lively and fresh, offering pear and peach aromas and a smooth texture with just a touch of oak. The Bouchard Bourgogne Blanc is an ideal accompaniment for grilled seafood, shellfish and poultry dishes.
Another Chardonnay that we’ve fallen for this year is from a fantastic South African producer with a rich history, Glenelly Wine Estate. Located in Stellenbosch, the estate’s heritage goes back to the 17th century. May-Eliane de Lencquesaing purchased the property in 2003, after running the famed Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande for 30 years prior. May de Lencquesaing is renowned for the wines of her Pauillac Grand Cru Classé Chateau and has upheld the same level of excellence at Glenelly. The 2010 Glenelly Chardonnay The Glass Collection Stellenbosch ($14) showcases the exceptional quality and value coming from this estate.
Unique Summer Wines
If you love Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley as much as we do, François Chidaine’s Vouvrays are not to be missed. Crafted in a range of styles from bone dry to sweet, Chidaine’s Vouvrays share an ethereal, elegant quality and great complexity. This summer we’re sipping Chidaine’s dry styles – the 2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Clos Baudoin ($25) and the 2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Les Argiles ($23), which are enchanting now and will age gracefully for years to come.
Breggo Cellars’ extraordinary white wines from unique varietals (Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling) places this Northern Californian producer on our summertime favorites list. The 2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley ($27) is exotic and enticing with opulent aromas of orange zest, lychee, honeysuckle and rose. Elegant and refreshing on the palate, bright tropical flavors mingle with zippy acidity and a long, lovely finish. Only 398 cases made!
On of the best value sparkling wines we’ve come across is the NV Quartz Reef Sparkling Methode Traditonelle ($28) from Central Otago, New Zealand. Blended from 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Chardonnay, this is a beautiful, brisk and refreshing sparkling wine that you’ll want to enjoy poolside, dockside and just about everywhere else you go this summer.
When we think of summertime sparkling wine, we think Prosecco. Both the NV Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry ($14) and the 2009 Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Crede ($20) are amazing! When looking for the ideal wine to pop open on a hot Saturday afternoon, you can’t go wrong with either of these delightful, summery Proseccos.
The buzz surrounding 2009 Burgundy began long before its release and now that these wines are available for purchase, the excitement over this truly spectacular vintage continues. While rumors that 2009 was going to be the next 2005 have been laid to rest for the most part, it is clear that both vintages share a superior quality and success that spans the entire region, from Chablis to Beaujolais. It is true that the praiseworthy 2009 vintage is the most widely successful since 2005, yet the two vintages are different and 2009 has something very enticing to offer, the drink me now element!
At this point, it would be remiss to not mention the profundity of the 2008 vintage. The difference between ’08 and ’09 is that the former will require patience and needs more time in the cellar, whereas the latter is already showing marvelously – instant gratification.
Back to ’05 versus ’09. Dry conditions in 2005 caused vine stress and led to high tannin levels. These strong tannins plus the vintage’s higher acidity are the recipe for serious structure and great aging potential. Burgundy’s 2009 growing season was marked by a hot, sun-filled August with below average rainfall. However, there had already been enough rain in May, June and July to prevent drought, giving the fruit softer tannins and lower acidity than the conditions in 2005. The resulting ’09 Burgundies are delicious, fruity and showing beautifully now. Intensely fragrant with concentrated flavors, these wines are approachable in their youth, but will no doubt age as well as their great predecessors, such as those from the 1999 vintage.
2009 has proven to be terrific vintage for both red and white wines. The reds offer rich aromatics and fruit flavors, with soft tannins and pleasant textures. These Pinot Noirs may not age quite as long as their 2005 counterparts, yet they possess the allure that draws us to red Burgundy again and again, that elusive elegance and grace. The delicate fruit aromas, floral fragrances and whisperings of exotic spices sing in this superb vintage.
The 2009 white Burgundies are equally as seductive. These rich, soft Chardonnays are nothing short of being delightful to drink now. Excellent balance, plentiful fruit and pure, persistent minerality give these wines poise and magnetism.
The youthful charm of the 2009 vintage makes these wines extremely difficult to resist. Those who have patience will surely be rewarded, but one could argue, why not start drinking the 2009s while I’m waiting for my 2005s to become more approachable?
Buying Guide: Top Producers and Wines
Christophe Cordier is a hot name in Burgundy’s winemaking scene. Located in the Maconnais region, in Fuissé, Domaine Cordier is known for premium wines made from the very best vineyard sites. Pure, focused aromatics and opulent, intense well-balanced flavors are hallmarks of Cordier’s style. His wines offer both extraordinary quality and value. Christophe is a proponent of crafting wines from hand-harvested, low yielding vines and minimal intervention in the vineyard. Fermentation is carried out in wood, giving the wines integrated flavors and incredible texture.
Both the 2009 Domaine Cordier Pouilly-Fuisse Vielles Vignes ($24) and the 2009 Domaine Cordier Vire Clesse Vieilles Vignes ($37) are excellent white Burgundies to try. At these prices, you could open these wines and enjoy them any night of the week!
Domaine Marc Morey is one of the Côte d’Or’s most renowned and sought after producers. In the 1950s, Marc Morey began making wine in the cellar of his family’s 100 year-old home, establishing his domaine in the heart of the Chassagne-Montrachet village. Today, Morey’s daughter Marie-Jo and her husband Bernard Mollard carry on the legacy that he began, making focused, terroir-driven wines. The domaine’s ownership spans nearly 25 acres of Villages, Premier and Grand Cru vineyards. The couple’s daughter, who works with them at the estate, will continue the family’s tradition of winemaking.
We are excited about everything that Domaine Marc Morey has to offer, from their 2009 Domaine Marc Morey Rully 1er Cru Rabource to their 2009 Domaine Marc Morey Chevalier Montrachet. These are white Burgundies that you won’t want to miss out on.
Domaine Joblot, located in the tiny village of Givry, in Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise, is a small producer crafting some very serious red Burgundies. Here, brothers Jean-Marc and Vincent Joblot work together to create powerful, fragrant wines that are truly sublime. The brothers take meticulous care in their winemaking, carefully selecting grapes from low yielding vines, destemming 100% of their fruit and using the finest oak barrels. The resulting wines are limited production and superior quality with a style resembling the best of Chambolle-Musigny. It is no wonder that Domaine Joblot has developed a cult following!
Domaine Joblot wines are superior quality at incredible price points. Available quantities of the 2009 Domaine Joblot Givry Celliers aux Moines and the 2009 Domaine Joblot Givry Clos de la Servoisine will not last long.
Domaine Joseph Drouhin is one of Burgundy’s finest and most important domains, showcasing the very best of each area within the region. From the beginning, Drouhin’s style has been elegant, balanced and harmonious, always striving for perfection in its wines. Domaine Joseph Drouhin wines possess a distinctive purity of taste. In their youth, they have fruity and alluring aromas, and as they age, these wines develop extravagant complexity. Crafted to age gracefully for up to forty years or more, the Drouhin portfolio is filled with gems from the very best Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards.
Some of Domaine Drouhin white Burgundies to try now, or to add to your cellar, include the 2009 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches and the 2009 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet. For Drouhin red Burgundy, the 2009 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Volnay and the 2009 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Vosne-Romanée are superb choices!
Henri Boillot is a 5th generation winemaker in Burgundy and has established Maison Henri Boillot as an exemplary Burgundian producer. Boillot family has been growing vines in the region since 1855, founding Domaine Jean Boillot in 1885. Henri took over the family estate in 2005, after making a name for himself with his own négociant business and his rich, powerfully styled Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Henri’s stunning wines convey his meticulous technique and passion for natural, sustainable farming practices that maintain the soil’s authentic character.
Henri Boillot’s wines are produced from only the finest sites in the Cote d’Or. Whether a Bourgogne Blanc or Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, Boillot uses the very best grapes, resulting in wines of sublime purity and distinction.
If you’re interested in trying these extraordinary red and white Burgundies, we recommend the 2009 Maison Henri Boillot Volnay Les Chevrets, the 2009 Maison Henri Boillot Meursault Les Genevrieres and the 2009 Maison Henri Boillot Puligny Montrachet Clos de la Mouchere.
Domaine Faiveley is located at the heart of both Burgundy and the Côtes de Nuits, in Nuits-Saint-Georges. Founded by Pierre Faiveley in 1825, Domaine Faiveley has been passed down through seven generations. The family owns vineyards in some of Burgundy’s very best regions, including Gevrey-Chambertin, Pommard, Volnay, Puligny-Montrachet, Mercurey and more.
Domaine Faiveley is known for its fine, age worthy wines, the result of exceptional vineyard sites and a particularly lengthy fermentation period. Faiveley’s wines are transferred to oak barrels for maturation and stored in their vaulted cellars, which date back to the 19th century.
The 2009 Domaine Joseph Faiveley Chablis Les Clos, the 2009 Domaine Joseph Faiveley Gevrey Chambertin Clos des Issarts and the 2009 Domaine Joseph Faiveley Gevrey Chambertin Les Cazetiers are just a few of this legendary producer’s highly-rated wines.
Springtime and signs of warmer weather ahead always puts me in the mood for fresh seafood and seasonal produce, especially asparagus, peas, radishes and green onions! After months of roasted meats, hearty stews and root vegetables galore, I am ready to lighten up my cooking a bit, which brings me to the seafood counter. This week, I decided to make pan-seared sea scallops and wanted to accompany them with a couple of simple side dishes. I chose asparagus, since the gorgeous green spears are in season, and garlic mashed potatoes – although on the heavy side, they struck me as just the right addition. The outcome was beautiful and delicious, so I felt compelled to share the recipes and steps for preparing the whole meal. This way, you won’t need to go rummaging through various cookbooks or cooking websites to gather recipes for the separate components of this dish. Of course, this meal wouldn’t be complete without just the right wine pairing, Chardonnay!
Chardonnay and sea scallops are an ethereal pairing. The richness and body of Chardonnay, particularly white Burgundy as well as certain Californian expressions, is the perfect accompaniment for scallops. Chardonnays that undergo secondary fermentation, and especially those aged in oak, tend to manifest creamy, buttery qualities, which are a match made in heaven for the rich, buttery texture and flavor of sea scallops. Chardonnay’s characteristic citrus notes are like a squeeze of lemon on any seafood dish, adding brightness to this sumptuous fare. Wines that fit the bill for the following recipes include the 2008 Domaine des Heritiers du Comte Lafon Macon Chardonnay Clos de la Crochette ($31), the 2008 Ramey Wine Cellars Chardonnay Carneros ($28) and the 2009 Far Niente Winery Chardonnay Napa Valley ($46).
Another excellent wine for scallops, and any other shellfish you may be preparing, is Chablis! Made from 100% Chardonnay, this a wonderful wine to balance the richness of seared scallops. The crisp citrus flavors and palate cleansing acidity are a super pairing for this dish! Many Chablis wines have a bright mineral quality and a slight brininess on the palate, which is a great complement for this delicacy of the sea. Both the 2009 Domaine Gilbert Picq et Ses Fils Chablis Vieilles Vignes ($25) and 2008 Domaine Bessin Chablis Fourchaume ($32) are marvelous choices to pour alongside the pan-seared sea scallops with lemon cream recipe. Time to head to the market and start cooking!
Pan-seared sea scallops with lemon cream, sautéed asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes
Active Time: 1 hr 15 min.; Cooking Time: 1 hr 15 min.
Step 1: Make the Lemon Cream (this can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to reheat):
1 cup dry white wine
¼ cup diced shallots
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed using the side of a large kitchen knife
1 cup half & half
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
Using your vegetable peeler, remove half the lemon’s peel in long strips (avoid peeling the bitter white pith). Squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice from the lemon and set aside. Combine the white wine, diced shallot, crushed garlic and lemon peel in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for about 8 minutes (give or take) until the sauce has reduced to about a ½ cup. Add the half & half and continue to boil until the sauce has reduced to about ¾ cup, about 8 to 10 minutes more. Strain the sauce into a liquid measuring cup using a fine strainer; discard the solids. Whisk in the reserved lemon juice, salt & pepper and set aside until ready to reheat.
Step 2: Prep your Asparagus
1 bunch Asparagus
3 Tablespoons butter (don’t be shy)
1 large shallot, diced
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
Bring a medium-large half-filled pot of water to a boil. Wash & trim a ½ inch from the bottoms of the asparagus. HINT: start the potatoes while your asparagus water is boiling. Once the water is boiling, drop the asparagus in for just 1 minute, remove and immerse in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and keep these guys crisp! Set the asparagus aside (you can drain the ice bath and keep it in the same bowl).
Step 3: Get your Garlic Mashed Potatoes going!
4 Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup half & half
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed using the side of a large kitchen knife
Grated Parmesan cheese (as much as you want!)
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
Peel and dice the potatoes so that all pieces are about the same size. Place in a medium saucepan, add the salt, cover the potatoes with cool water and cover the pan with a lid. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes fall apart when pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes once they are done cooking, keep them in the same pan and cover until you are ready to mash them.
While the potatoes are boiling, heat the half & half and crushed garlic over medium heat in your small saucepan. HINT: To keep dirty dishes from accumulating, I simply clean the same pan I used for the lemon cream with a warm damp cloth, dry it and reuse! Once the mixture is simmering, reduce heat to low to keep it warm.
Step 4: Time to Sear the Sea Scallops
16-20 large sea scallops (you’ll want 4-5 per person)
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and arrange on a large plate. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the scallops. Heat 1 Tbs butter and 1 Tbs olive oil in a large stainless-steel skillet over high heat. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may have to brown the scallops in two batches.
Add the scallops to the hot butter and oil and brown them on each side, about 1 to 1 ½ minutes per side. Watch them carefully to make sure they get brown, but don’t cook through. You will finish cooking them in the hot oven. If browning in batches, add the remaining ½ Tbs butter and ½ Tbs olive oil between batches. Transfer the scallops to rimmed baking sheet.
Bring it all together!
Your gourmet meal is really coming together at this point! Your asparagus is prepped and ready for sautéing, your potatoes are cooked and ready for mashing, your delicious lemon cream is already made, your scallops have been seared to a golden brown, now its time to bring it all together!
Step 5: Mash the potatoes
Mash the potatoes using a potato masher or an electric immersion blender. Add ¾ cups of the warm half & half and garlic mixture and grate some Parmesan cheese right into the pan, no need to grate ahead of time. If the potatoes need more moisture, add the remaining ¼ cup of warm half & half. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper. Continue mixing and mashing until the potatoes are smooth. You can turn the heat on low under the pan to keep your mashed potatoes warm.
Hint: Reheat the Lemon Cream in the same saucepan that contained the half & half and garlic, or keep it in the measuring cup and heat it for 30 seconds in the microwave.
Step 6: Finish the Scallops
Pop the scallops into the heated oven and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Step 7: Sautée the Asparagus
Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced shallots and sautée for about 30 seconds, then add the asparagus, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Sautée the asparagus spears for just a few minutes, making sure that the butter and shallots coat the spears evenly. Reduce the heat to low, just to keep the spears warm, and cover.
Step 8: Plate your masterpiece and enjoy!
Divide the mashed potatoes, asparagus spears and scallops onto four plates. Drizzle with the lemon cream sauce and viola! You have a created a delightful dinner that will surely impress your guests!
Enjoy each heavenly bite with a sip of the Chardonnay that you chose.