Our Wine of the Week, Rodney Strong 2011 Sonoma County Chalk Hill Chardonnay ($19), is a classic California chardonnay. It is rich, lush and lively, with a cornucopia of forward fruit and a suggestion of beurre noisette — browned butter, which has a hint of hazelnut flavor — on the long finish.
Flavors of baked apple, sauteed pear and ripe pineapple fill the mouth, as little starbursts of lemon keep the palate refreshed. Weaving through these flavors you'll notice whispers of vanilla and oak and, given the bit of sweet spice, you may find yourself thinking of buttery cinnamon toast.
This wine is excellent with wild Pacific King salmon, the fresher, the better. Add a fruit salsa — grilled pineapple salsa, perhaps, or mango salsa — and the match will soar. You'll also enjoy this wine with roasted chicken, pork tenderloin, apple chowder, carrot fritters and seafood risotto. An Indian biryani, a rice-based dish, with chicken, pistachios and apricots is an excellent match and almost anything with corn will welcome this wine alongside. It is also a good pairing with rock shrimp, scallops and mussels, especially mussels in a mild curry sauce.
For today's recipe, I've adapted a dish from Austin Perkins, executive chef at Nick's Cove in Marshall. In the winter he uses sage, which is lovely but not the best herb for summer. Thyme is a better choice at this time of year. Serve this alongside roasted chicken or salmon or serve it atop mixed greens with a caraway vinaigrette or apple cider vinaigrette.
Savory Carrot Bread Pudding
Makes 6 servings
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for muffin tins
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced