Wine: Emblem 2016 Chardonnay
Origin: Sonoma Coast, California

Taste: Rich and abundantly fruit-driven on the nose with a vibrant, gold color and supremely ripe orchard fruits, this Chardonnay has a delightfully chewy texture thanks in large part to its excellent fruit concentration. The palate continues its generosity as the wine offers copious and mouth-penetrating flavors that include cinnamon spice, toast and butterscotch. Though decadent, this Petaluma Gap bottling has a strong spine of acidic refreshment.

Expectation: This is an unctuous Chardonnay that has verve. So it should work well with creamy starches, fruits and cheeses.

Hit: Brown Butter and Oyster Mushroom Risotto
In fairness, this wasn’t very daring, but it was DARN delish. The brown butter paired with the starchy Arborio rice roared to perfection with this wine. The oyster mushrooms were baked under the broiler then added at the last minute, so they added a pleasant freshness as well as a touch of crunch and bonded well with the underlying earthiness of this Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.

Miss: Roasted Cauliflower and Apple Salad with Walnuts and Shaved Comté
This was SO close. (With a few modifications, this should be a winner!) The roasted cauliflower’s smoky tones paired well with the wine’s oak-toast notes, and the cauliflower’s inherent neutrality worked well, too. The Comte was brilliant, doing a flashy tango with the Chardonnay’s sweet fruits and earthy notes. The cheese’s hint of crystallization gave some acidic boost to the dish, too. Alas, the apples fell a bit flat against the wine as they were “same-y” in taste. This floored me! I thought the apples would have been the most important link! The walnuts were seamless flavor-wise, but with the high alcohol and rich palate, even their crunch couldn’t help lift the dish as I had hoped.