If you are looking for a classic California-style chardonnay — the kind Jess Jackson made famous nationwide and even possibly worldwide — our Wine of the Week, Roessler 2015 Carneros Big Ben Vineyard Chardonnay ($30) is for you.
It’s mouth-filling and rich, with a cornucopia of fruit, including white pear, honeysuckle, lemon curd, custard apple, baked apple, ripe white pineapple and not-quite-ripe papaya.
Vanilla punctuates the fruit, making you think of sweet custard and apple pie.
Is it a fruit bomb? Yes, a bit. But it has a backbone of acidity that stops it short, just before it could become cloying.
One way to enjoy this wine — and I realize this might be considered blasphemous by some — is over ice with a splash of peach or apricot shrub and a shake or two of cardamom bitters, an excellent cocktail on a warm fall evening.
The wine goes well with shellfish, especially rock shrimp and scallops, and is also good with winter squash, fresh corn, sweet peppers, and the dead-ripe tomatoes of fall.
Roasted chicken basted with apple juice and apple cider vinegar, sweet potato soup, and roasted carrot soup. It is always a fabulous choice with roasted pork loin or tenderloin slathered with apricot jam and garlic.
Fresh Corn Custard with Chives
8 ears fresh corn (about 4 cups kernels), kernels cut from the cobs
— Butter, at room temperature, for the baking dishes
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons kosher salt
— White pepper in a mill
1 tablespoon minced fresh snipped chives
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a tea kettle and bring the water to a boil. Select a baking or roasting pan large enough to hold a 1 1/2-quart soufflé dish or 6 8-ounce ramekins and coat with butter.
Put the corn kernels into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse several times to achieve a fairly smooth purée. Set a strainer over a large bowl and scrape the pureed corn into the strainer. Use a large heavy wooden spoon or wooden pestle to press the corn milk into the bowl, stirring and rubbing the purée to extract as much liquid as possible.
Stir the beaten eggs and the half-and-half into the corn milk. Add the butter, the salt, several turns of pepper and chives and mix well. Pour the custard into the soufflé dish or ramekins and set in the large pan. Set in the oven and then pour enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dish or dishes. Bake until the custard is just turning golden brown at the edges and the custard is just set. Time will vary based on the containers used; check after 25 minutes for a large soufflé dish and after 15 minutes for smaller ramekin and then continue to check every 5 minutes.
When done, remove from the oven, transfer to a rack, and cool slightly. Garnish with chives. Serve the custard warm or at room temperature.
Serving Options: Top with julienned roasted and peeled sweet peppers tossed with just a little olive oil; drizzle a little warm shallot vinaigrette over the custards immediately before serving; make the custards in the ramekins and while they cook, sauté 2 or 3 scallops per serving in a little browned butter for 1 minute per side, then season with salt and pepper and set on top of the custards immediately before serving.
Take It Outside California!
Guided kayak and bicycle tours will be offered at Sears Point Ranch on May 6, as part of Take It Outside California!, a statewide annual celebration focused on outdoor activity sponsored by the California Council of Land Trusts. Events are slated between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Sears Point. The tours are free, but registration is required. For more information on Take It Outside California! activities at Sears Point, including registration, or to learn about other guided activities through the Sonoma Land Trust, visit the website here.