Sunday in the neighborhood, with my daughters across the street playing and L off at yoga, I have hours to myself in the cool San Francisco sunshine. I wish I could say I used the time beautifully, in rapture at a stretch of coastline or hiking Mount Tam, but I spent last week in a kayak in the Sea of Cortez so I wanted most of all to be domestic, catch up on some house chores.
In this case, that meant fiddling around with my wine, down in the basement, and taking the last of my books out of the boxes they’ve been in too long, putting them up on shelves. There was more, all in the basement—reorganizing, consolidating. Nothing glamorous, but satisfying nonetheless, the kind of day that can reconnect me with my own life. And then came dinner: Friends dropped by at five, welcome as ever, and I’d thought about just the feeling I wanted, the job I’d hoped the food and wine might do. We’ve had a spell of early spring sunshine, and Sunday was especially warm; and I always want Sunday dinners to feel casual, easygoing, restorative. So I made a frittata of wild mushrooms and eggs bought at the farmers’ market, and I made shoestring frites with aioli, and a salad of the tender mesclun our local farmers are suddenly harvesting again.
To drink, I opened a cool-climate Australian Chardonnay: the 2007 Climbing Chardonnay from Cumulus, in Orange, Australia. I met the winemaker last year; his name is Philip Shaw and he’s an ornery old guy who doesn’t suffer fools. I’ve been fond of his wines ever since, and this one didn’t disappoint: It was just the right thing to splash through all that richness and garlic and give our dinner the bright aura of the coming summer.
Grapes: 100 percent Chardonnay
Wood: Six months in new French barriques
Alcohol: 13.5 percent
My Tasting Notes: We all talk about how hard it can be to pair big California Chardonnay with food; no such problem here. This wine is like a bright ray of sun on a cold morning, lush and refreshing in the best way. (Note: I read an article in the recent New Yorker about the language of smell and taste; the article referenced an older way of writing about wine, in which metaphor is used in an effort to evoke the feel of a wine; I’m intrigued by this, and intend to try it here and there for a while).