White Wine Club
February White Wine
This month, we travel back to California, and back to Chardonnay, for one of my favorite bottlings: Shafer Red Shoulder Chardonnay. A wine Robert Parker calls "one of the best non-malolactic, barrel-fermented Chardonnays in California”
92 points, Parker: "The non-malolactic barrel-fermented, green/gold-colored 2007 Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch offers loads of tropical fruit, pear, and honeysuckle characteristics in its full-bodied personality. The oak component has been downplayed over recent vintages, and the wine is all the better for it, displaying gorgeously pure fruit. It should drink nicely for 2-4 years."
On 68 acres near the northern tip of San Francisco Bay, Shafer harvests fruit for this classic single vineyard wine. The Red Shoulder Ranch vineyard in the Carneros region offers a long, consistently cool growing season, which is ideal for retaining acidity in Chardonnay fruit. To focus on varietal flavors, Shafer uses only wild yeast for fermentation and does not put the wine through malolactic fermentation.
Shafer Vineyards traces its beginnings to 1972 when John Shafer left a 23-year career in the publishing industry and, with his family, moved to the Napa Valley to pursue a second career in wine. After purchasing a 210-acre estate in Napa Valley's Stags Leap District, the Shafer family faced the arduous task of replanting the existing vineyards, which dated to the 1920s, and terracing the steep and rocky hillsides, eventually expanding vineyard acreage to its current 50 acres.
Evolving from grape growers to vintners, the Shafers crushed their first Cabernet grapes in 1978 and began construction on their winery a year later.
The first Shafer Cabernet became a benchmark, winning the acclaimed San Francisco Vintners Club taste-off upon release and, over a decade later taking first place in an international blind tasting held in Germany, where it outranked such wines as Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour and Chateau Palmer.
Doug Shafer became winemaker in 1983 after graduating from the University of California at Davis with a degree in enology and viticulture. A year later Elias Fernandez joined the winery as assistant winemaker. Together Doug and Elias have worked closely to forge the Shafer style of quality, consistency and elegance.
Refer a Friend Promotion: From now through March 31, we'll give you either a $10 Farmstead Gift Certificate or a Bottle of Wine for every new Wine Club membership that you bring to us.
Creamy Polenta with Taleggio Cheese and White Truffle Oil
This silky, rich polenta dish is incredibly easy to make, and would make a great starter course to a fancy dinner paired with this months club selection.
2 cups coarse polenta
6 cups chicken stock or low sodium broth
2 cups milk
5 ounces Taleggio, trimmed of the rind, and cut into small pieces
6 tablspoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons white truffle oil
Combine the polenta and 2 cups of water in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.
Combine the chicken stock, milk and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the polenta, and return to teh boil, whisking often. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring ofeten with a wooden spoon, until teh polenta is tender and the consistency of cooked hot cereal, about 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cheese, butter and adjust the seasoning, and stir until the butter is combined.
Spoon into warm shallow bowls and drizzle the truffle oil over the top.