Our Wine of the Week, Duckhorn Vineyards 2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay ($35), is a dramatic and self-assured wine, one that wants to be the center of attention. My advice is to let it. Give it center stage so that its plush, buttery texture and exuberant fruit flavors can blossom. These qualities should be showcased, not subdued or overshadowed.
Along with the wine’s lush mouthfeel are swirls of fruit flavors, Granny Smith apple, baked apple, Asian pear, Comice pear, dragon fruit and a bit of custardy durian, sans the infamous aroma.
Coursing through these flavors are little threads of butterscotch, caramel and buttered toast with the thinnest slathering of pear butter.
For this wine to show itself at its very best, enjoy it with a simple roasted chicken mopped with apple cider several times as it cooks. By way of a sauce, simply swirl some butter into the pan drippings, adjust for salt and pepper and you’re ready to dig in.
All of the usual suspects that pair with classic California chardonnay work well with this one, too, of course: You won’t go wrong with shrimp, rock shrimp, scallops, wild Pacific king salmon, corn, polenta, eggplant, pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes and coconut. Sweet potato curry, grilled eggplant and creamy polenta with rock shrimp sautéed in butter are all great matches.
Avoid foods with too much acid or spicy heat.
For today’s recipe, I’ve taken inspiration from the Cheddar cauliflower — named for its rich orange color — grown by Ma & Pa’s Garden. It’s paired with an almost-classic fettuccine Alfredo, the flavor of which is deepened by the addition of creamy roasted garlic puree, which ties the cauliflower to the sauce and the wine beautifully.
Fettuccine Alfredo with Roasted Garlic & Cauliflower
Serves 4 to 6