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Bold winter white wines for the holiday season, plus recipes

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I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, but not the kind that song title usually connotes. Oh, sure, I hope it will snow come the 25th of December, but I also look forward to a change in the wines that appear on my table during the holidays.

It is the time of year when wine aficionados say goodbye to light summery whites — the Sauvignon Blancs and the Pinot Gris — and welcome the bold whites of winter: full-bodied whites that can stand up to the warmth-giving foods the body craves.

I am thinking Chardonnays that finish strong, that refresh the palate but also stimulate the taste buds. The following are recommendations for three particular Chards that will help make your holidays that much brighter. A pair of recipes follow that make sweet harmony with the wines noted.

2011 Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) Carneros Chardonnay. Delicate nuances of peach, pear, apple, honeycomb and white flowers fill the elegant aromas and flavors of our 2011 Carneros Chardonnay. Hints of vanilla and sweet smoky oak from fermentation and aging in small oak barrels add enticing complexity. Aging on the yeast enhanced the creamy texture that carries the lingering crème brûlée finish. Pair this wine with appetizers and lighter entrées, such as filet of sole, papaya and crab salad, asparagus quiche, chicken breasts with julienne of vegetables and creamy celery root soup with truffle oil (recipe below).

2011 Sterling Vineyards Napa Valley Chardonnay. This Chardonnay shows the beauty and complexity of the Napa Valley, marrying the lush, bold ripeness of the mid-valley with uncommon richness and depth. Fragrant oak spices, honey and tropical fruits open the nose. On the palate, layers of golden apples, peach, lemon curd and caramel are lifted by a bright citrus finish, flanked by toasty spices. The elegant, full-bodied style of this Chardonnay can stand up to fleshy seafood, such as that classic, sole Veronique (recipe below), and grilled meats alike.

Once Upon a Vine Chardonnay. Kissing frogs, waiting for princes, and falling prey to evil stepmothers is simply outdated. True connoisseurs of the grape prefer a little complexity and intrigue in their lives and their wine. The fairest Chardonnay grants our wishes, offering a ripe nose of pear, guava, pineapple and crème brulée. Lees stirring and integrated oak lend richness and weight to the fleshy fruit. These enchanting flavors linger well into the finish, leaving notes of citrus and spice. Pair this wine with a good friend and engaging conversation.

Celery Root Soup with Truffle Oil

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 medium), white and light green parts only
  • 2 1/2 pounds celery root, also known as celeriac (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 12 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 medium tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • Truffle oil as garnish

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add celery root, potatoes, apple, garlic, salt, and a pinch of pepper. Stir to coat vegetables with oil, add water and broth, and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until vegetables just give way when pierced with a knife, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Remove 1 cup of liquid from the saucepan; set aside. Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam from the hot soup to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off).
  5. Once blended, transfer the soup back to the saucepan and keep warm over low heat. If the soup is too thick, add the reserved liquid a little at a time until the soup reaches the desired consistency.
  6. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. To serve, drizzle generously with truffle oil.

Yield: 4 servings

Sole Veronique

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lemon sole (or flounder)
  • 1/2 lb green seedless grape (peeled)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • 4 ounces half-and-half (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Rinse fish, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Place fish in pan and pour wine, lemon juice, and melted butter over the fish. Sprinkle on the shallots.
  3. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
  4. Pour drippings from fish into saucepan and reduce slightly. Add half and half. Cut the 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of butter together with a fork.
  5. Add the flour/butter mixture to the fish drippings and stir until it thickens.
  6. Remove saucepan from heat and add peeled grapes.
  7. Pour sauce with the grapes over fish.

Yield: 2 servings

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