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.
This version of the classic Italian dish calls for beef marrow, a traditional addition. It is easy to get and, I think, worth it. Just buy a beef marrow bone, which you often find in the freezer compartment of local markets. One bone should yield enough marrow for this recipe.
<b>Risotto alla Milanese</b>
Serves 3 to 4
<i>4 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon best-quality saffron threads
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons beef marrow, optional
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
— Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Vialone Nano, Carnaroli or Arborio rice
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or similar cheese
— Black pepper in a mill
1 tablespoons snipped chives or chopped Italian parsley</i>
Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan, add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to very low. Put a little of the stock into a small bowl, add the saffron threads and set aside.
Put 2 tablespoons of the butter, the beef marrow, if using, and the olive oil into a wide deep saucepan (an All Clad saucier is ideal) set over medium heat and when the butter and marrow have melted add the onion. Cook until the onion is very soft and fragrant, about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently; do not let the onion brown.
Season with salt, add the rice and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until every grain turns milky white, stirring all the while.
Add ? cup of the stock and stir continuously as the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is nearly tender, adjusting the heat as needed so that the stock does not evaporate the moment it hits the pan. Be sure the liquid is fully absorbed before adding more.