Our Wine of the Week, Slang 2014 Sonoma County Chardonnay ($15), is a lovely summer quaffer, with the sort of richness chardonnay lovers want combined with enough minerality to keep the wine refreshing.
Notes of Asian pear, Bartlett pear and Granny Smith apple announce the varietal on first sip. As the wine warms on your palate, a beguiling toastiness and whispers of butter merge, and you may find yourself thinking of brioche, lightly toasted and smeared with apple butter. These qualities emerge and then fade into the wine’s pleasingly bright finish.
This beautifully crafted wine can hold its own among chardonnays offered at three or four times the price. It is a stand-out, elegant and sophisticated yet accessible, too.
At the table, there are nearly infinite options. Shrimp, scallops, mussels, lobster, clams and razor clams make great matches, as you would expect. The wine is stunning with sand dabs cooked Sicilian-style, with raisins, garlic and spinach. Sliders of slow-roasted pork slathered with homemade mayonnaise is a great match, too, especially if you use brioche rolls. Carrots, corn, zucchini, chickpeas, fresh English peas and polenta all go beautifully with the wine, as well. Chestnuts, parsnips, sweet potatoes and winter squash will flatter this chardonnay in cooler weather, and it would make a welcome addition to any holiday table.
One of summer’s most fleeting pleasures is also a great partner for this wine: apricots. In the right context, it is a stellar match, one that not only enhances your enjoyment of the food but that also makes the wine soar. Today’s recipe, Apricot Risotto, can be served as a main dish or it can be a bed for roasted pork tenderloin, grilled chicken or seared scallops. You can serve it atop wilted spinach or with oven-roasted asparagus alongside. Or you can chill it, shape it into balls and deep fry it for a wonderful appetizer.
Serves 4 to 6
3-4 slices of bacon
4 cups homemade chicken stock
2 cups water
4 tablespoons butter
4-5 small firm-ripe apricots, each cut into 6 wedges
1 yellow onion, cut into small dice
3 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
½ cup dried apricots, cut into small dice
— Kosher salt
1½ cups Italian rice, preferably Vialone Nano or Carnaroli
1 cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
— Juice of 1 lemon
3 ounces (¾ cup) grated Estero Gold, Vella Dry Jack or similar cheese
— Black pepper in a mill
2 tablespoons fresh snipped chives or chopped Italian parsley
Set a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until it crisp; transfer it to absorbent paper to drain.
While the bacon cooks, pour the stock into a saucepan, add 2 cups of water, heat and keep warm over a low burner.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat, add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the pan and, when it is melted, add the sliced apricots and cook on one side for 2 minutes, or until the fruit begins to pick up a bit of color; turn and cook 2 minutes more. Tip into a dish, set aside, and return the pan to the heat.
Add the remaining butter and the onion and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 12 minutes; do not let it brown. Add the garlic and the dried apricots and cook 2 minutes more.