Brewer-Clifton Hapgood Chardonnay With Crab Cakes

I have such fond memories of the three-month period during which my husband, Peter, was retired.

We went on great adventures together and he cooked dinner nearly every night.

That was before he accepted a consulting gig which was to last 3 months and has turned out to be more like 14. Alas, the project will eventually end and Peter will retire again;, perhaps more successfully this time.

But bless his heart, over the weekend he rolled up his sleeves, temporarily stepped back in the kitchen, and made delicious crab cakes.

Not only is Peter a pretty darn good cook, he also takes great pride in finding just the right wine from our cellar to pair with the dish he is making.

I’m a lucky gal.

crab cakes with Brewer-Clifton Chardonnay

Peter prepared crab cakes (see recipe below) over a bed of arugula and roasted carrots seasoned with sumac and cumin. He paired this with a 2012 Brewer-Clifton Hapgood Chardonnay from the Santa Rita Hills area of Santa Barbara County.

Brewer-Clifton’s tasting room is a “must stop” place when visiting Santa Barbara County. Located in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto (really just an industrial park), the Brewer-Clifton tasting room is hip, sleek and modern. A cheese board was available at our tasting which showed that the folks at Brewer-Clifton ascribe to the adage:

Taste wine with bread

Visits to the vineyard and barrel room are available by appointment.

The vineyard sits on a relatively small, very specific part of the Santa Rita Hills, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. The impact of this location on the soil and the effect of the salt air are used to their greatest advantage in making this delicious wine.

Its deep, golden color suggests a richness that is present in every sip.

2012 Brewer-Clifton Hapgood Chardonnay

Here is what the winemaker has to say about the 2012 Brewer-Clifton Hapgood Chardonnay:

“The 2012 Hapgood Chardonnay displays bright golden color. A clonal selection from the Mount Eden vineyard, the wine supports bright and explosive aromas with hints of petrol. On the palate, the wine broadens to give full and voluptuous flavors of exotic fruits with beautiful acidity.”

For a long time, I was not much of a fan of Chardonnay. Visits to places like Brewer-Clifton, Lewis Cellars, and Sojourn have made me realize that I was just drinking the wrong Chardonnays.

Say it with me: “Life is too short to drink crappy wine.”

And now, for your dining pleasure, is the crab cake recipe (adapted from winespectator.com). Peter insists it is quite simple. I wouldn’t know since I was blissfully surfing the internet the entire time he was chopping, mixing and cooking.

Crab Cakes With Old Bay Tartar Sauce

  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat
  • 2 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon of yellow mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
  • Cooking oil (vegetable)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Arugula 
  • Tartar sauce
  • Another couple of teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning
  • Lemon wedges for serving

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, mayo, mustard, melted butter, lemon juice and Old Bay seasoning.

In a large bowl, combine crabmeat, parsley, panko and a pinch of pepper. Combine these ingredients by folding, rather than mixing, to keep the crabmeat in nice big chunks.

Fold the wet ingredients into the crabmeat mixture. Once combined, shape into the desired size of patties.

Heat a large frying pan to medium heat. Add oil, place patties in the pan and cook 6 minutes per side until golden brown.

Combine 2/3 cup of tartar sauce with 2 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning. Serve alongside the crab cakes over arugula with lemon wedges on each plate.

Serves 4

Stay tuned for more of Peter’s wine pairings in the future.

Cheers!

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Wine Gift – It’s All In The Name

My youngest grandson was born on his paternal grandfather’s birthday. His first grandchild born on his 60th birthday. The best gift ever.

Peter and I shopped for a special wine to commemorate the double special occasion and found the perfect bottle.

Legacy Wine

This got me to thinking about other wines which could be given as gifts based on the name of the wine.

For example,

Let’s say you are looking for a wine gift to say “bon voyage” to a friend. How about a bottle from En Route, makers of wonderful Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County, California?

Or, you could wrap up a bottle of Sojourn Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, also from Sonoma, California.

Sojourn wine

Even the image on the bottle suggests a vacation!

Retirement? I recommend Ayoub Memoirs Pinot Noir from Oregon.

Do you know someone who is starting a new endeavor? How about a bottle of Pursuit Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir or Red Blend. These wines are produced by the wonderful folks at Bounty Hunter in Napa.

Need a gift for a law school graduate or to celebrate passing the bar exam? Bounty Hunter also makes Jurisprudence Red Blend.

Jurisprudence Red Wine

There are many, many wines named after members of the winemaker’s family. Perhaps one of these would fit the bill for a birthday or new baby gift:

Domaine Drouhin “Arthur” Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

Foxen “Julia’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir from the Santa Maria Valley area of Santa Barbara County.

Rudd “Samantha’s” Cabernet Sauvignon from the Oakville area of Napa Valley.

Lewis Cellars “Ethan’s” Syrah, “Mason’s” Cabernet Sauvignon or “Alec’s” Red Wine Blend – just a few of the fabulous wines made in Napa and Sonoma by former Formula One race car driver, Randy Lewis.

Lewis Cellars Mason's

Hall “Ellie’s” Cabernet Sauvignon, “Jack’s Masterpiece” Cabernet Sauvignon or “Craig’s Cuvee” Red Wine Blend from Napa Valley.

Hall Jack's Masterpiece

Walt Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Walt is owned by Hall Wines and produces wines from several spots along the Pacific Coast from California to Oregon.

Walt Wines

Hartford Court “Jennifer’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley.

Hartford Court Jennifer's Vineyard

Or maybe something a little different…

Eighty Four Wines Malbec or Syrah from Napa Valley.

Nickel & Nickel (Single Vineyard) Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay from Napa for someone celebrating their 55th birthday. Nickel & Nickel, get it?

Nickel & Nickel

Martinelli “Three Sisters Vineyard” Pinot Noir or Chardonnay from Sonoma.

Wallis Family Estate “Little Sister” Proprietary Red Blend from Napa.

Wallis Little Sister

Maybe you are looking for a “just because” wine gift.

Just because…

…your friend has great memories of times in New Orleans (or is a fan of Davy Crockett): Fess Parker “The Big Easy” Red Blend from Santa Barbara.

…your friend is facing a big challenge: Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.

…you want to celebrate the resolution of “a situation”: Poetic Justice Red Wine, another great wine from Bounty Hunter.

Poetic Justice

…you know someone with a soft spot in their heart for “Old Blue Eyes”: Sinatra Family “Come Fly With Me” Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.

…you want to show your love: Hall “Coeur” Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.

Hall Coeur

These are just a few ideas based on wines we have in our cellar. All or most of these are available for purchase online directly from the winery.

Do you have more ideas to add to the list? Something you have seen in your local wine store or given as a gift yourself?

By the way, just a hint for my family and friends…

Shotbox wine bottle photo

Cheers!

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