Our wine this week is a traditional California chardonnay that manages to be both lush and clean at once. Oak and vanilla play their roles in the 2011 Carmel Road Monterey Chardonnay (about $17 at supermarkets and elsewhere), but they are restrained members of the ensemble rather than scene stealers. One hundred percent chard grapes were sustainably grown in the Arroyo Seco appellation.
This big white's bouquet leads off with peach and vanilla accented by musky cantaloupe. On the tongue, a whole cast of flavors cavort: pear, cantaloupe, vanilla, oak, clover honey and a bit of ginger for edge. The blend is harmonious and luscious but not in the least cloying. A whisper of white pepper after midpalate lends zing, before the wine segues into a clean lingering finish. Overall, this wine is beautifully balanced, bright and lush.
It will pair with a broad palette of foods, of course, but two dishes that come first to mind are pork tenderloin glazed with mustard and maple and chicken stuffed with fresh garden herbs and simply roasted.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.