Our Wine of the Week, Novy Family Wines 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($19), blossomed during a long, cool growing season. Flavors developed slowly while sugar remained low and acidity high. Even after full malolactic fermentation, there is a brightness, a vibrancy, to the wine that makes it a good companion at the table. It is refreshing, without any of the cloying flabbiness that sometimes walks hand-in-hand with secondary fermentation.
I notice subtle flavors of white stone fruit in this wine, along with suggestions of ripe pear, gooseberry and warm green herbs, like mint and maybe a bit of lemongrass.
It's like a pretty summer frock, with a pattern of pastel flowers and green leaves, all sweetness and light but with a coolness at its core — like Betty Draper of "Mad Men" at a picnic.
The wine is an excellent companion to light seafood, especially shrimp, scallops and lobster; roasted chicken; chicken and pear salad; carrots; braised fennel; mild coconut-milk-based curries; and pork tenderloin. It is also outstanding with corn, especially rich soups and chowders.
For today's recipe, I'm inspired by the wine's compatibility with corn, which I've folded into a delicate risotto. You can make it without the chanterelle mushrooms, but if you have access to some, use them, as they will add both earthy and ephemeral elements to the match.
In this dish, the sweetness and richness of corn replaces the traditional cheese for an American version of a classic Italian dish. The fresher the corn, the more pleased you will be with this voluptuous risotto, so make it only in the summer, when corn is in season. If you do not have chipotle powder, substitute another ground chile or omit it entirely.
<strong>Corn Risotto with Sauteed Chanterelles</strong>
<i>Makes 4 servings</i>
4 ears ripe sweet corn, husks and silks removed
5 to 6 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock, hot
5 tablespoons butter
3 shallots, minced
8 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and broken into pieces
— Kosher salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups risotto rice, preferably Vialone Nano
3 ounces Italian fontina cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh snipped chives
First, prepare the corn. Hold each ear of corn over a bowl, rub the point of a sharp knife down the center of each row of kernels to release the juices, and then run it through the kernels fairly close to the cob to remove them. You should have about 2 cups; set aside.
Put the corn cobs into chicken stock, along with 1 cup of water. Simmer very gently for 15 minutes; use tongs to retrieve and discard the cobs. Keep the stock hot over a low flame.
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a deep sauce pan or saucier set over medium-low heat. Reserve a teaspoon or two of the shallots, add the rest to the pan and saute until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes.
While these shallots cook, put the remaining butter into a small saute pan set over medium-low heat, add the reserved shallots and saute until they begin to soften. Add the chanterelles, season with salt, and saute until they start to wilt. Add the wine and a small splash of the stock, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid is nearly completely reduced. Taste, correct for salt, season with pepper, cover, set aside and keep warm.