Chardonnay all day…and all year!

By Le Vigne’s Enologist, Michelle Zentmyer Moss

Nearly every day of the year has a special event or designated “thing” to celebrate. The 18th of February is no outlier to this generalization, with National Drink Wine Day and a stuffed mushrooms recipe of the day. Though the two concepts are not necessarily related, I wanted to connect the dots between drinking wine and enjoying a tasty dish, something we regularly do at Le Vigne Winery. After heavily pondering which wine to discuss, and how to prepare complimentary stuffed mushrooms, the contents of this post began to evolve.

As fermentation finishes for the 2020 vintage, the winemakers can be found in the cellar, scrutinizing every barrel of each lot of wine. Year by year, one of the wines that stand out is the Barrel Select Chardonnay. Between the Russian oak barrels, malolactic fermentation, sur lie aging, and bâtonnage, this wine repeatedly radiates elegance and finesse. Having just tasted a sample of what is destined to be the 2020 Barrel Select Chardonnay, I knew that I wanted to feature the previous 2019 vintage for February’s blog. You may be asking yourself “a white wine in the winter?” Even during the chilling temperatures that Paso Robles is currently experiencing, I say “heck yes!”

2019 Barrel Select Chardonnay
Le Vigne Barrel Select Chardonnay

Sticking with tradition, the 2019 Barrel Select Chardonnay was fermented in Russian oak barrels and, following the completion of alcoholic fermentation, each barrel was inoculated with malolactic bacteria to convert the more acidic malic acid into the softer, creamier lactic acid in a process called malolactic fermentation (MLF). Between MLF and bottling, the wine sat on its lees (sur lie aging) to extract more flavors and enhance the richness. Occasionally, the layer of lees that settled to the bottle of the barrel was agitated to increase the texture and complexity of the chardonnay; The French term for this is bâtonnage. The result was a beautiful bouquet packed with a variety of aromas and flavors that are refreshing yet full-bodied, crisp yet creamy, buttery yet citrusy, and all-around delightful. The full mouthfeel and long, mouthwatering finish make this a white wine that is enjoyable year-round. The Wine Enthusiast Magazine also agrees and recommends it in their February/March 2021 Advance Buying Guide!

In addition to National Drink Wine Day, the recipe of the day for February 18th is stuffed mushrooms, according to holidayinsights.com. Although I am not a fan of mushrooms, I took this as a challenge to write, practice, taste, and revise an easy and quick recipe for stuffed mushrooms that would be complementary to the 2019 Barrel Select Chardonnay, stay true to the winery’s heritage and make Chef Walter proud. From this goal, a recipe for Italian Sausage and Blue Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms was born. I hope you enjoy it!

Italian Sausage and Blue Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms


Ingredients:
24 medium to large white mushrooms
4 cloves garlic
2 shallots
1 tablespoon Le Vigne Estate olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/3 lb Italian Sausage
1/3 cup white wine*
4 ounces Central Coast Creamery Big Rock Blue
3/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Pepper

 Blue Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1) Rinse mushrooms and gently wipe with a damp cloth. Remove mushroom stems and separate them from caps. Place stems, garlic, and shallots in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
2) Add the olive oil to a large cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the sausage and mushroom stem mixture. Break the sausage into small pieces and cook until the mushroom stem mixture begins to brown.
3) Stir in the white wine to deglaze the skillet and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Transfer skillet contents to a large bowl and allow to slightly cool.
4) To the large bowl, stir in blue cheese, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and parsley.
5) Place mushroom caps cavity-side up on the previously used cast iron skillet.
6) Overfill the mushrooms with filling then drizzle with olive oil.
7) Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until golden brown.
8) Allow to slightly cool, garnish with parsley and serve with a glass of Le Vigne Barrel Select Chardonnay.

*I did NOT use the Barrel Select Chardonnay for this recipe because it is way too tasty to be cooked down!
We would love it if you would share your Barrel Select Chardonnay and stuffed mushroom photos with us on Instagram (@levignewinery) or Facebook (@LeVignewine).

Additionally, being as nerdy as I am, I wanted to share some other February 18th celebrations:
Tuesday, February 18, 1930: Planet Pluto was discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh. Pluto is back to being classified as a planet, right?
Saturday, February 18, 1995: Hiroyuki Goto recited Pi to 42,195 digits from memory. And to think that I thought I was talented with reciting 40 digits!

What will you make of these days in February, as the oddities continue and the requirement for creativity persists?

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