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Why chardonnays work with fish

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Today I am just going to write about chardonnays from California and how they work well for me with seafood. I could take the word California out and substitute white burgundy, but not this time.

Let me first state that I do not like “fishy-smelling fish” and this condition is caused by amines that happen when the fish muscles start to break down.

Of course, the solution is to make sure that your fish is as fresh as possible, but if this is not the case then citric acid, that exists in wine, converts these amines to a salt that has no odour or taste.

This acid also breaks down proteins in fish and helps with digestion.

An ultimate flavour enhancer of seafood is a lemon/butter sauce where the warmed butter develops nutty, sweet flavours.

Let us pour a glass of chardonnay and see how it adds so much to our wahoo, cod, lobster and so many other choices.

For a start, I imagine that I am having Bermuda lobster for the first time this year and, as this is not an inexpensive choice, the chardonnay should be of the appropriate level. Here are three:

The winemaker of one of the consistently classic wines of Napa feels this way about his 2017 Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay: “Fresh, vibrant, and well balanced with medium weight trending to richness. There are classic California chardonnay notes of lemon confit, crème brûlée, with aromas and flavours of tropical fruit such as pineapple, mango and tangerine. A light touch of oak leads to a pleasing, lingering finish.”

James Suckling is impressed enough to rate it 96/100 and write, “Freshly squeezed nectarines, dried jasmine, orange blossom, vanilla, peach flan, dried mangoes, jack fruit and plenty of bread dough. Full body, a very round and oily mouthfeel, expansive and commanding acidity and a long finish.”

Jeb Dunnuck, at 94/100, feels that it is, “a different animal, richer and more opulent, with montrachet-like caramelised lemon, tropical fruits, and brioche aromas and flavours”.

He adds: “Nevertheless, it's still more elegant and vibrant than past vintages, with medium body, a layered texture, and good acidity. I love its balance and it can be drunk any time over the coming two to four years, although there's no need to delay gratification.” $59 (Stock #6277).

The deliciously pure Pisoni 2017 Lucia Chardonnay exhibits both power and elegance. Generous notes from Pisoni Vineyards combine with lemon curd, peach, baking spice and Golden Delicious apple.

These aromas intertwine with layered richness and an expansive palate of crushed rock and orange blossom. This represents the Santa Lucia Highlands of California beautifully.

Critic Robert Parker feels this way: “The Lucia 2017 chardonnay has a gregarious nose of baked red and Golden Delicious apples, banana peel, quince and peach with notes of toast, smoke, hay, honey and lemon cream.

“Medium-bodied, with intense tropical and stone fruit layers with honey-nut accents, it's creamy and rounded, refreshed by mouth-watering acidity and finishing long and energetic with pleasant texture. Lovely!” $57 (Stock #6126).

Stags' Leap Winery, in the heart of this highly regarded AVA in Napa Valley, released their first vintage in 1893 way before this valley became so respected for wines that can now hold their own against any from anywhere.

Stags' Leap 2018 Chardonnay is a story of balance with a delicious intersection of richness and minerality that benefits from a classical standard of viticulture, care of the land and winemaking that is as relevant today as it was well over a century ago.

James Suckling rates it 93/100 and writes: “A beautiful, complex chardonnay with sliced apples and pears, as well as hints of cream and matchstick. Full body. Stone fruit. Long and flavourful. Drink now.” $48.45 (Stock #6340).

Last week we had fresh wahoo for the first time in some months and I am so pleased to see it in supermarkets once again. It is appropriate to balance the reasonable price of this local delicacy with the wine. So here are two to consider:

J Lohr 2017 Riverstone Chardonnay sells for $24.40 (stock #7988) and it placed in 37th place on the Wine Enthusiast's 2019 list of the “100 Best Buys”.

This publication felt that, “the 2017 Riverstone Chardonnay exhibits youthful hues of light to medium straw”.

It continued: “The enticing aromas are reminiscent of peach, nectarine, marmalade, yellow floral, baking spices, and honey. Those aromas echo on the palate and are complemented by orange and apricot and balanced with a creamy texture from ageing sur lie [the process of leaving the grape juice in a barrel with the left over skin, seeds and pulp for a few months to extract more flavour]. Flavours of crème brûlée and a touch of oak can be found on the long finish.

“This wine can be enjoyed with a variety of dishes, including classic herb-roasted chicken, citrus-marinated halibut, or moules marinière.”

They may not have heard of our wahoo?

Bogle 2018 Chardonnay, like all their wines, just packs in all the sunshine and excitement of California. As this state is getting such a tragic reminder of what climate change forbodes, it is worth mentioning that Bogle is certified “sustainable” as they adhere to these farming and management regulations.

They are situated on the Sacramento river east of San Francisco and this has become quite a mecca for wine.

You will find green apple and pear aromas classically characterise this wine as Clarksburg, while honeycomb and vanilla heighten the first impression.

The rich, round entry rolls into a viscous and silky mouthfeel, surrounded by Asian pears and Honeycrisp apples. The finish lingers long and soft.

Wine Enthusiast rates it 90/100 and describes it in this way: “This full-bodied wine is ripe in flavour and rich in texture. It does a great job of balancing delicious pear and subtle vanilla flavours on a creamy, layered texture. It seems to get better with each sip. Best Buy.” $21.55 (Stock #8035).

Happy fishing.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit wineonline.bm

Perfect partnership: according to Michael Robinson, J Lohr 2017 Riverstone Chardonnay pairs well with moules marinière

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Published October 02, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated October 02, 2020 at 3:25 pm)

Why chardonnays work with fish

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