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Pairings: Chardonnay with risotto

Our Wine of the Week, Davis Bynum 2012 Russian River Valley River West Chardonnay ($25), is a classic example of this varietal's potential in California. It is rich and full-bodied, with a lushness that fans of this style love.

Aromas begin with something akin to baked apples and lemon curd tarts, with a buttery quality that might have you thinking about toast slathered with butter and apple jelly. On the palate, these qualities continue to unfold until there's a bright burst of refreshing acidity with hints of Pippin apple.

This is a wine to enjoy with rich pastas, such as fettuccine Alfredo with fresh peas and prosciutto and similar dishes with cream-based sauces. It is also a natural with roasted chicken, creamy polenta, pheasant, game hen, rabbit and pork, especially pork loin and tenderloin.

The wine is, of course, also excellent with shellfish, especially scallops and mussels, and salmon. Because of the wine's hint of toasty oak, it also goes very well with dishes that include bacon.

When it comes to spices, its soul mate is saffron, making classic Risotto alla Milanese a stellar match. Serve it as a first course, followed by a simple roasted chicken basted with good butter and you'll have a summer feast.


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