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Pairings: Chardonnay with chowder

B.R. Cohn wines, including our Wine of the Week, B.R. Cohn 2011 Silver Label North Coast Chardonnay ($15), are always beautiful, with a suave fullness and engaging complexity that is never overwrought.

Although this wine has the buttery mouthfeel people expect from California chardonnay, there is enough bright, refreshing acidity to keep it from being cloying or flabby.

Pretty fruit aromas, especially green apple, pear, Asian pear and Meyer lemon, emanate from the glass. There's also just a hint of white pineapple. These same flavors unfold on the palate, rising from a foundation of toasty French oak.

Combine the suggestion of sweet fruit flavors and the smokiness of the oak and you are suddenly thinking about grilled sea scallops, roasted lobster and chicken hot off the grill.

The wine also is excellent with rabbit. Try a braised ragout over creamy polenta. And it is a very good companion to pork loin and tenderloin, especially with a fruit-based sauce or condiment alongside. Quiche, too, including classic Quiche Lorraine, is a great match with this wine.

Today's recipe, clam chowder, is inspired by the fog that often envelops western Sonoma County. The sweetness of the clams and the cream resonate with the richness of the wine.

Don't let the quantity put you off. It's not really more difficult to make a larger batch than you'll need for two or three people. It keeps well for a couple of days and is delicious enough that you can make a full meal of it with nothing more than a green salad alongside.

New England-Style Clam Chowder

Makes about 10 to 12 servings

1 cup dry white wine

2 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

6 to 8 pounds clams (see Note below), sorted, rinsed and scrubbed

4 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced

3 tablespoons butter

1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice

— Kosher salt

2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice

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