Our Wine of the Week, Novy Family Wines 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($19), blossomed during a long, cool growing season. Flavors developed slowly while sugar remained low and acidity high. Even after full malolactic fermentation, there is a brightness, a vibrancy, to the wine that makes it a good companion at the table. It is refreshing, without any of the cloying flabbiness that sometimes walks hand-in-hand with secondary fermentation.
I notice subtle flavors of white stone fruit in this wine, along with suggestions of ripe pear, gooseberry and warm green herbs, like mint and maybe a bit of lemongrass.
It's like a pretty summer frock, with a pattern of pastel flowers and green leaves, all sweetness and light but with a coolness at its core — like Betty Draper of “Mad Men” at a picnic.
The wine is an excellent companion to light seafood, especially shrimp, scallops and lobster; roasted chicken; chicken and pear salad; carrots; braised fennel; mild coconut-milk-based curries; and pork tenderloin. It is also outstanding with corn, especially rich soups and chowders.
For today's recipe, I'm inspired by the wine's compatibility with corn, which I've folded into a delicate risotto. You can make it without the chanterelle mushrooms, but if you have access to some, use them, as they will add both earthy and ephemeral elements to the match.
In this dish, the sweetness and richness of corn replaces the traditional cheese for an American version of a classic Italian dish. The fresher the corn, the more pleased you will be with this voluptuous risotto, so make it only in the summer, when corn is in season. If you do not have chipotle powder, substitute another ground chile or omit it entirely.
Corn Risotto with Sauteed Chanterelles
Makes 4 servings
4 ears ripe sweet corn, husks and silks removed
5 to 6 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock, hot