Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
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Sebastiani Chardonnay for grown up mac and cheese

September 14th, 2012 by brynn grimley

Growing up Brynn’s dad was the chef of the family, tweaking recipes and adlibbing on the fly to produce his own take on traditional recipes.

Being raised in a household with someone dedicated to making gourmet meals on an almost nightly basis, you’d think would produce a child with an adventurous palate. Although she appreciated her dad’s cooking, when it came down to it, nothing beat a meal of macaroni and cheese — more often than not from a box.

What she didn’t know until much later was that when her dad made her the boxed mac and cheese, he often took a spoonful or two for himself  — to make sure it wasn’t poisonous, of course.

Since Ann Vogel’s intended audience for her Max Mac and Cheese is teens on the go, we’ve dedicated our wine pairing to all those parents out there who find themselves “testing” their children’s food, just to make sure it’s OK.

Brynn recently tried a chardonnay from California’s Sonoma County that would be a nice match to the extra sharp Tillamook cheddar cheese suggested for this baked mac and cheese dish.

It’s from Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery, one of the pioneers of the Carneros wine region. While it’s what you might expect from a Carneros chardonnay — hints of oak continue throughout this wine — it’s not a stereotypical California chardonnay that knocks out your palate with oak overload.

The 2009 chardonnay reflects the growing conditions that year. The growing season was cool and long, resulting in fruit notes taking center stage. Apple and pear punctuate this wine, while mineral flavors and high acidity keep the oaky flavors from barrel fermentation in check.

This medium-bodied wine has hints of vanilla and a slight sweetness at the finish that balances with the notes of pear, lemon zest and apples. The restraint used to keep the buttery notes in check, allow he acidity to shine in this wine, which is why it’s a good accompaniment to the mac and cheese.

The weight of the wine will stand up to the sharp cheddar flavors, while the acidic notes will cut through the fat of the cheese.

If you feel you just can’t do chardonnay, we also suggest a Riesling, or if you prefer red wine, a cabernet sauvignon.

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