It’s winter—the weather is cold, in California the rain is finally falling (!) and we’ve all begun reaching for those hearty red wines. Or have we?
This week, I opted for Chardonnay. I know what you are thinking… Chardonnay is a white wine, it’s refreshing and possibly more suited to the summer months than winter. I beg to differ. At Rodney Strong Vineyards, Chef Tara Wachtel has composed a rich, delicious Butternut Squash Soup with Browned Butter that is absolutely delicious with Rodney Strong Vineyards’ 2013 Chalk Hill Chardonnay. The soup itself is ideally suited for the cold winter months and the wine, with its rich texture and medium body, is an excellent match—warming the soul and proving that Chardonnay can be an excellent companion during the cold winter months.
2013 Chalk Hill Chardonnay
Rodney Strong Vineyards’ 2013 Chalk Hill Chardonnay is a seriously balanced Chardonnay. It finds the right mix between crisp acidity and textured mouthfeel, while not possessing the buttery flavors so common in richly-textured Chardonnay. Why is this? Winemakers Rick Saye and Justin Seidenfield have crafted a Chardonnay that is barrel fermented in a mix of new and seasoned French oak, as well as a small amount of stainless steel. This combination tones down typical “buttery” Chardonnay flavors, which are commonly a result of a lot of new oak, as well as when significant percentages of the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation. In this wine’s case, 11 months of aging in this trio of vessels, in additional to regular battonage (stirring of the lees), gives the wine a creamy mouthfeel with ample body and viscous texture; although, the fruit and gentle acid help to balance that richness, making for an excellently balanced wine.
When enjoying this wine (or any white wine for that matter!), be sure to let it warm in the glass once you’ve taken it out of the refrigerator. All too often, wine lovers are enjoying their whites at too cold of temperatures to really appreciate the beautiful aromatics and subtle nuances of that exude at the appropriate temperature. At just around cellar temperature (~55° F), the aromatics unfold from the glass in a blossom of lemon zest, orange oil, pear, crushed seashells, wet stones and gentle whiffs of baking spices—clove and nutmeg. The palate reveals medium weight and thick texture, followed by gentle acidity and just the right amount of crispness to even it all out. Notes of preserved lemons, lime zest and a touch of ripe pineapple in the background mingle with yellow apple and faint hints of nutmeg.
Butternut Squash Soup with Browned Butter
With the soup, the wine becomes even more alive in the glass. The browned butter, which brings a lot of depth and richness to the soup, adds the same characteristics to the wine; the browned butter brings body, extra flavor and more length to the texture of the wine. Of course, the crème fraîche provides added creaminess to the wine, and the touch of tang it has gives extra oomph to the wine’s acidity and fruit flavors. The rich, nutty flavor of the butternut squash itself is pleasantly matched to the wine, bringing out those gentle, toasted barrel notes and enhancing the fruit so that the wine’s complexity reaches every corner of your taste buds. It is a pairing that warms the soul.
So, the next time you reach for a hearty red this season, think outside the box. You might just go for a white, if you’ve got the time to whip up a rich, winter soup like this to pair it with!
If you’d like to recreate this Rodney Strong Vineyards pairing, you are in luck. Winery Chef Tara Wachtel has shared it on the Rodney Strong Vineyards website. Enjoy this Butternut Squash Soup with Browned Butter with their balanced 2013 Chalk Hill Chardonnay—great for a cold, rainy night or even the first course for a holiday dinner!
*Originally published on Feast it Forward.