I just blinked and it’s fall. Holiday celebrations are just around the corner and for many of us that means it’s time to get into “super hostess” mode and plan some wonderful family get-togethers. Whether you go the traditional route or a little bit modern, something that always fits in to a dinner party is a delicious bottle of wine. My husband and I make quite the holiday team—I plan, find the recipes and shop and he does the cooking. The part that we both REALLY love is finding the right wines to go with what we are serving. I recently received the Rodney Strong 2013 Chalk Hill Chardonnay and the 2012 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and these wines are sure to impress, especially when paired with the right foods.
Rodney Strong Vineyards has been producing wine for more than 50 years and has earned a reputation for producing critically acclaimed Single Vineyard and Reserve wines. The 2013 Chalk Hill Chardonnay and 2012 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon continue to live up to the earned accolades and will definitely make holiday meals even more enjoyable and memorable, especially with some specially crafted recipes from Winery Chef, Tara Wachtel, which are posted below.
The Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay has a tasty crispness with just a touch of minerality on its long, creamy and slightly buttery finish. This wine was aged in new and seasoned French oak, which gives it toasty notes of vanilla and subtle spices. I enjoyed this wine a great deal—I enjoyed it with some cheese and crackers, but it would pair well with foods like lobster, shrimp or butternut squash. This wine is available for $22, which is a great buy for such a high-quality wine.
The deep colored 2012 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with rich tannins and a lingering finish is a smooth yet bolder wine that would accompany many types of holiday meals. This wine is complex with notes of dark plum and blackberries as well as a touch of chocolate on the finish. This wine would be an ideal accompaniment with main course meals like steak, a gourmet burger or even with turkey and stuffing at your Thanksgiving table. The Knights Valley Cabernet is available for $35.
Here are a few of Chef Wachtel’s recipes for you to enjoy with these wines. Check out the web site for more recipes and pairing ideas.
BUTTERNUT SOUP WITH ROSEMARY BROWNED BUTTER (to be enjoyed with the Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay)
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 pounds butternut squash - peeled and diced
1 cup thinly sliced leeks
½ cup minced shallots
½ cup thinly sliced onions
6 garlic cloves, chopped
6 cups water
Bouquet garni with 1 sprig rosemary tied in green leek leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 inch pc of rosemary
½ cup crème fraiche
Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the canola oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot. Add squash and season well with kosher salt. Add the leeks, shallots, onion, and garlic. Stir and cook until softened, about 10 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary to keep the garlic and squash from browning. Add the water and bouquet garni, bring to a simmer and cook 30 minutes for the flavors to blend and squash to be tender. Remove from heat and discard the bouquet garni. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches, and purée. Strain the soup through a fine sieve. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Heat a medium skillet over high heat. When it is very hot, add the butter and rotate the skillet over the heat as necessary to brown the butter evenly, add the rosemary and swirl – being careful, as herbs will crackle. Scrape up any bits that settle in the bottom. As soon as the butter is a hazelnut brown, remove the rosemary, pour it into the pot of soup and stir. Place the crème fraîche in a small bowl and grate in a couple pinches of nutmeg, set aside. Gently reheat the soup until just hot. If it is too thick, add a little water and adjust seasoning with salt, a dash of sherry vinegar, and black pepper. Ladle the soup into six serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of crème fraîche. Serve immediately.
SAUSAGE STUFFING WITH CHERRIES AND COCOA NIBS (to be enjoyed with the Knights Valley Cabernet)
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 - 1 pound loaf of day old sourdough bread, cut into 1” cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound pork sausage
3 onions, medium diced
4 sticks celery, medium diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon toasted and ground fennel seed
1 teaspoon toasted and ground coriander
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup dried cherries
½ cup cocoa nibs
4 large eggs
1 – 1 ½ cups turkey stock
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 4 quart baking dish. Toast bread until golden, 15 to 25 minutes. Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then cook sausage, until browned; breaking up lumps, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to a large bowl. Add remaining butter to skillet and heat over medium. Add onions, celery, garlic, fennel and coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown lightly, 12 to 15 minutes. Add vegetables to sausage with bread, cherries, and coco a nibs, and toss to mix well. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, then whisk in stock, cream, and parsley, and pour over stuffing. Stir stuffing well, then spread it in baking dish. Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Cover stuffing tightly with foil and bake until hot throughout, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake until top is golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes more.
Disclosure: Kristine S. received complimentary bottles of wine from Rodney Strong Vineyards. No monetary compensation was received. Regardless of receiving complimentary products, Kristine's opinion, thoughts and words are 100% her own and were not influenced by the company.