Our Wine of the Week, Graton Ridge 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($29), is a crowd pleaser, a wine that fulfills the expectations of thousands of fans of chardonnay. On first sip, I was thinking of the late Warren Dutton, as this chardonnay would have put a big smile on his face. It is the style he preferred and made famous.
It's a classic California chardonnay, with a big, rich feel in the mouth. It's a heavyweight, with lots of buttery richness mingling with flavors of vanilla, sweet tropical fruits and honeysuckle. There's plenty of baked apple, too, with a river of toasty oak running through it. If you're a visual thinker, you'll see the Russian River as you sip.
The oak and butter are your keys for pairing this wine. These qualities narrow the range of foods that will be enhanced by the wine but when the right match is made, it soars. Think rich seafoods (especially shellfish), chicken breast, rabbit, pheasant, sweetbreads, mild coconut-based curries, pork tenderloin, winter squash, chanterelle mushrooms and all manner of corn, from fresh corn, polenta and grits to popcorn. Add a bit of smoke to any of these foods -- a little smoked mozzarella, for example -- and you'll be thrilled.
For today's recipe, I've paired a classic risotto from Milan with scallops seared in brown butter. Layers of flavor unfold, engaging the wine in a cascade of deliciousness.
Risotto alla Milanese with Scallops Seared in Brown Butter
Makes 3 to 4 servings
6 to 7 cups meat or chicken stock or broth
? teaspoon ground or minced saffron
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil