Wine Pairing: Sonoma Coast Chardonnay with Crab Tomato Bisque

Sonoma County’s Dungeness crab are finally in stores, a perfect match for Trig Point 2014 Signpost Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.

At $17, our Wine of the Week is a steal. Trig Point 2014 Signpost Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is a beautifully made, classically California quaffer. Fans of the varietal will want to snag several bottles.

The wine is rich and succulent, with fruit ranging from baked green apples, white peaches and sweet citrus to apricots and figs, all buoyed by the wine’s diaphanous acidity and mouth-filling juiciness. On the palate, it is round and full but not cloying. This west county wine is an excellent example of cool-climate chardonnay, with flavors that blossom during a long growing season with plenty of light but not a lot of heat.

At the table, you’ll enjoy the wine with chicken, pork, veal, lobster, scallops, mussels, eggplant, winter squash, parsnips, carrots and creamy pastas. Roasted root vegetables tossed with butter, mussels steamed in the wine itself and veal chops served on a bed of steamed winter squash are all excellent matches. Oyster chowder, clam chowder and crab vichyssoise welcome the wine alongside, too.

Today’s recipe, adapted from one in “California Home Cooking” (Harvard Common Press, 1997), is inspired by our local Dungeness crab, which we are finally able to enjoy for a very brief time this spring. It’s not a great match with crab served chilled with nothing more than a squeeze of lemon, but it is outstanding when the crab is served hot with melted butter or folded into this rich bisque.

Crab Tomato Bisque
Serves 3 to 4

3 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, cut into small dice
1 small celery rib, cut into small dice
— Kosher salt
½ cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, preferably white
3 cups chicken stock or fish stock
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
¼ cup sherry
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
— Cooked and picked meat from 1 Dungeness crab
¾ cup cream
½ cup half-and-half, plus more as needed
— Hot sourdough hearth bread

Put the butter into a large saucepan, set over medium heat, add the onion and celery and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 12 minutes; do not let the vegetables brown. Season with salt, increase the heat to high, add the wine and cook until it is nearly completely reduced.

Add the bay leaf, parsley, pepper, stock, tomatoes, sherry and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Use tongs to remove and discard the bay leaf. For a smooth soup, purée with an immersion blender.

Taste the bisque and, if it seems a bit flat, add the sugar. Add the crab, cream and half-and-half, and heat through but do not let it reach a boil. Taste again, correct for salt and pepper and thin with a little more half-and-half if too thick for your taste.

Ladle into soup plates or bowls and enjoy right away, with the hot bread alongside.

Michele Anna Jordan is author of the new “Good Cook’s” series. Email her at and visit her blog at