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Wine of the Week: Murphy-Goode 2013 Chardonnay

“I was right! Was it the coconut?” This is what I wrote after tasting and identifying two Chardonnays from Murphy-Goode Winery. To be honest, it’s not showing off much to pick one wine out of two—after all, I could just as well have flipped a coin. But it did made sense.

It’s not a heck of a long drive from Alexander Valley to the Russian River Valley’s slightly cooler Eastside Road, where Murphy-Goode’s Kelly Ann Vineyard is, so why would you expect these wines to so predictably display the signature characteristics of warmer climate and cooler climate Chardonnay?

Maybe it’s climate, and terroir—or, does winemaker Dave Ready Jr. highlight the apple character of the “Single Deck” while playing up the “tropical” notes of the “Island Block” through barrel selection and other cellar techniques, to meet your expectations? I would says it’s a chicken-and-egg type of question, but the winery suggests it pairs best with chicken.

Murphy-Goode 2013 “Island Block” Alexander Valley Chardonnay ($26)

The toasty oak aroma of this wine has a distinct, memory-jogging note of toasted coconut, whether of a bakery or sunscreen-slathering at the beach—and this, after I entirely forgot that the wine, covered in a paper bag, is called “Island Block.” Tropical fruit triumphs over burnt butter aromas, and the tongue-coating, sweet pineapple and lemon flavors leave with a pleasant offering of caramel.

Murphy-Goode 2013 “Single Deck” Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($30)

The wood is “woodsier” here, and the malic apple note is fresher, too. Fresh apple juice and soft, dried apple flavors characterize a wine that’s significantly leaner than the Alexander Valley. I shouldn’t have read the back label tasting notes just now, but I have to agree: there’s white peach on the palate, too. A slim gloss of lactic acid sweetens the deal, but it’s not as bright and focused as I’d like a cooler-climate Chardonnay to be, so overall, I prefer the more bombastic “Island Block.”

Recipe: Lemon Rosemary Chicken Breast with Salsa Verde

From Murphy-Goode Winery

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 gallon ice
  • 8 chicken breasts, skin on

For the Salsa Verde;

  • 4 tablespoons Italian parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chervil, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 4 ounces good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large pot, combine water, salt, sugar, lemon zest and spices. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat and let steep for 1 hour. Transfer to a non-reactive container and add ice. Cool brine to below 40*. Add chicken and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 48 hours. Remove from brine and pat dry. Heat grill to medium heat and lightly oil. Season the chicken with a small amount of salt and place skin-side down on grill. Cook for approximately 3-1/2 minutes and then turn the chicken 90 degrees to the right and grill for another 3-1/2 minutes (this will create a crisscross grill mark pattern). The skin should become dark brown. Flip the breast and cook for approximately 7 additional minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with Salsa Verde and roasted potatoes. Serves 8.

For the Salsa Verde:

Place all in food processor and blend. In a large pot, combine water, salt, sugar, Combine all ingredients and place in a blender. Process the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The Salsa Verde can be made up to 1 day in advance.

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