Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wine-Down Wednesday: Oak Or Not To Oak

You either love the flavor of oak in wine, or you do not. I just happen to love wines aged in french oak, or any oak for that matter! While having a beautiful glass of golden raisiny Oaked Chardonnay one evening, I was inspired and began a poem with this phrase...

"I love the ride of a splintery oak barrel while I am drinking its juice...", and it has stuck with me since.

Chardonnay Grapes are of the white wine grape varietal, and are grown all around the world. They produce one of the most widely loved wines, although at one point they were considered passe due to it popularity and wine enthusiast preferred. These grapes once fermented can take on so many flavors and is easily paired with many dishes.

The most popular region for growing Chardonnay Grapes is Burgundy in France and it is thought that this is where Chardonnay wine originated. Most people believe that Chardonnay grapes were first cultivated by ancient vineyards when they began cross-pollinating between Pinot grapevines and Gouais Blanc grapevines.

One bottle that ranges $25 and under is Neyers Chardonnay. We've enjoyed past vintages of the Carneros regions of this wine. This wine scored 93 Points by the Wine Spectator, and 90 by Robert Parker.

I believe they ever have not lost their allure to food and wine enthusiasts around the world because of their compatibility with so many dishes. Especially 'Oaked' Chardonnay's. These wines can go with heavier sauces, as well as hold up to heavy ingredients, as opposed to lighter white wines. They are great sipping wines. Oaked bottles of Chardonnay are know for their buttery flavor. Making them perfect for my high butter fat sauce in this recipe for White Chocolate Saffron Scallops, and White Chocolate Saffron Braised Fennel Bulb.

This sauce was made with a white chocolate saffron bar from, extra saffron threads, heavy cream, and a method similar to Bavarian Cream. Placing the chocolate in a glass measuring cut into a warm bath, heating the cream, and tempering the chocolate, but whisking it until it is smooth. Let the ingredients meld on counter for a good half hour or more. Braise shallots, fennel, pieces of spinach, and Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt until fennel is soft, or chocolate sauce is thick.

Once plated some Black Truffle Carpaccio (free sample from la Boutique, and the best truffles ever!) was added as an extra flavor. Surprisingly it did not overwhelm the sauce, scallops or the fennel. The flavor profile for everything was far from good, it was great! The Neyer Chardonnay was also a great match, and we will have this dish many times over.

If you are interested in receiving some Sea Salts, complimentary from, then go to my 'Sweet Somethings' section of the Sweet, Sour & Salty Rant post to read details.

Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt-

Alaea is the traditional Hawaiian sea salt used to season and preserve. Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt is non-processed and rich in trace minerals, all of which are found in sea water. A small amount of harvested reddish Hawaiian clay (‘Alae) enriches the salt with Iron-Oxide.

Traditionally Hawaiians use Alaea salt in ceremonies to cleanse, purify and bless tools and canoes, as well, in healing rituals for medicinal purposes.

Savor a unique and pleasant flavor while roasting or grilling meats. It is the traditional and authentic seasoning for native Hawaiian dishes such as Kalua Pig, Hawaiian Jerky and Poke.