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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Long Meadow Ranch Releases Rich, Bold Chardonnay

Long Meadow Ranch Chardonnay 2015, Anderson Valley

Cost: $39-41

The world of wine is endlessly fascinating because no matter how many different wines you’ve tried, there’s always a new one waiting to be discovered.

This week’s chardonnay isn’t a new wine, but I hadn’t tasted it before, so it was new to me. After a few sips I wondered how I could have missed it before.

This complex, full-bodied wine goes down easy, whether you are sipping it alone, or drinking it at dinner. It is a pale yellow in the glass, almost green, with aromas of peaches, citrus and spices. On the palate I picked up notes of citrus, pear and vanilla with a slight minerality.

This is a rich, ripe wine, but the balancing acidity keeps it from being cloying. It has a vibrant, refreshing mouthfeel, with a long, pleasant finish. I don’t do this often with white wines, but it is the kind of wine I might smack my lips after taking a sip or two.

Anderson Valley chardonnay definitely has a different taste than chardonnay from Napa or Sonoma. The valley is in Mendocino County, about a 2 1/2 hour drive north of San Francisco so it has a different climate than Napa and Sonoma to the south. It is at the northernmost edge of California’s prime wine growing regions.

The fruit flavors are dense and concentrated but the acidity and mineral notes keep it feeling fresh. This is not one of those big, buttery, oaky chardonnays, yet it is not the lean style you get from fermenting in stainless steel. This wine is aged in French oak, 25 percent new and 75 percent neutral. I couldn’t determine this for sure, but it tastes like there was no malolactic fermentation.

I think this wine will be great all year long, but its freshness makes it a perfect summer wine. It probably isn’t an everyday wine for most of us, but it is a great special occasion wine, or a Saturday night wine because you feel like it.  

Winery: Ted and Laddie Hall established their winery in 1989 when they bought the Long Meadow Ranch property in the Napa Valley. Working with son Chris they revitalized the property in the Mayacamas Mountains.

The ranch began after the Civil war when President Ulysses S. Grant signed a land patent giving 640 acres to veteran E.J. Church. That became the Long Meadow Ranch, but it was abandoned during Prohibition. Nothing much happened with the property until the Hall family bought it and brought it back to life. The ranch is in three counties with more than 2,000 acres of grapes, olives, fruits, vegetables and pastures for cattle.

Long Meadow Ranch is a certified organic, family-owned agricultural enterprise producing estate-grown grapes and wine, olives and olive oil, grass-fed beef and lamb, fruits, vegetables, and eggs. Pioneers of sustainable farming, viticulture, and hospitality practices in Northern California wine country, the wines of Long Meadow Ranch offer a glimpse into the product of the family’s “full circle farming” philosophy.

They also operate a farmstead in St. Helena with a restaurant, market and general store.

Previously, Ted Hall was chairman of the board of Robert Mondavi Winery before it was bought by Constellation.

Long Meadow Ranch grew in 2015, when the Hall family bought 145 acres planted with 69 acres of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris. Cooled by breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean the estate is perfect for growing pinot and chardonnay.

The couple also produces cabernet sauvignon, merlot and sauvignon blanc from estate vineyards in Mayacamas and Rutherford.

There is a tasting room in Napa, housed in a restored 1874 home. Besides tasting wine there you can get a tasting of bourbon, rye and whiskey.

Last month they opened a new tasting room in Anderson Valley at The Madrones, a boutique resort on Highway 128 in Philo. Several other wineries operate tasting rooms there, too.

Chicken breasts sauteeing in butter.

Goes with: We had this luscious wine with Chicken Imperial, a dish I have been making in various forms since the 1970s. The Long Meadow Ranch chardonnay was a perfect match for this rich, creamy dish.

The crisp citrus and pear flavors are a nice balance to the creaminess of the dish. This was a great weeknight pairing, where the food was good, but the wine really made the night special.

The chardonnay also would pair well with roast chicken, barbecue chicken, grilled salmon, halibut, black cod, crab, risotto with wild mushrooms, roasted or grilled corn or squash.

I started making Chicken Imperial when I was in my 20s and a neighbor taught me how to make it by browning chicken breasts in a frying pan, adding cream of chicken soup and heavy cream. It was an easy meal for two young guys to make while their wives were out somewhere.

The dinner I cooked last week had a few more ingredients but it was just as easy as the first time I made it in our Lombard, Ill., apartment.

Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Imperial

2 boneless chicken breasts

1/2 cup flour

Morton Nature’s Seasons

1/2 cup butter

1 onion sliced thin

2 celery stalks sliced

1 cup heavy cream

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup of chicken stock

1/2 cup of sherry or white wine

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Coat chicken (either whole or cut up) with flour and Morton Nature’s Seasons

Brown chicken in melted butter over medium high heat

Remove chicken and add celery, onions and garlic to pan and cook until tender.

Stir in cream, sherry, chicken stock and soup. Stir to blend well.

Add chicken back into the pan.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is tender.

Remove chicken again.

Stir 2 tablespoons of flour or corn starch to 5 tablespoons of water in a small cup. Slowly add the thickening mix to the pan, stirring constantly until thick.

Return chicken to pan until heated through.

Serve over noodles or rice.

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