No-Guilt Wednesday Wine: Santa Ema Reserve Chardonnay 2008   3 comments

This little guy doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  Every Wednesday I will write-up a wine that I feel delivers good value for drinking in the middle of the week.  Aside from quality, my only other criteria is price.  To start, less than $15, but ideally less than $10, for a 750 ml bottle. 

I will also add any recipes that I paired with the wine.  I hope to leave you with a recipe that you can use to match up with a wine of your choice if you can’t locate the one I recommend.

No-Guilt Wednesday is not about compromising on quality.  It’s about all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank, eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.  

Santa Ema Reserve Chardonnay 2008 ($7).  With a $7 price tag, the expectations for this week’s wine are not particularly high.  On the other hand, this Chardonnay comes from Santa Ema which is a reliable Chilean producer of some very nice reds including well-regarded reserve Merlot and reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  I have had both of these reds and am a fan so naturally, I had to try the Chard.  When it comes to Chardonnay, I am not partial to the fat, buttery style of many a New World Chardonnay.  Rather, I prefer a leaner style that isn’t too acidic.  But I do want a little roundness on the palate.   So how does this chardonnay stack up? 

This is not a complex Chard.  Rather, it’s like a beach in a bottle, offering up aromas of pina collada with a waft of sunblock (in a good way) floating through the air.  On the palate, the texture was more viscous than expected.  Juicy papaya strutted with banana and some toasty oak which is polished off  with a soupςon of green olive and soft acidity on the finish.  Can you smell the ocean?  I can.  Next time I go to the playa, this one is coming with me.  Rated ** 

Cuisine du Wednesday?  Given the stress I had with the paella last week, this week called for a lighter more relaxed touch.  Ergo the return to a white wine.  And a return to a favorite fish– salmon.  Yes, I have the beach on my mind.  Perhaps because Ms. R is there right now and I am here, slaving over a chilled Chardonnay and…

I love the fattiness of salmon.  This one was wrapped in foil and roasted/steamed in a hot oven.  It’s a technique that we used recently with sole (see the May 20, 2011 post).  But let’s up the ante by adding two other of my favorite ingredients– turkey bacon and asparagus.  Turkey bacon may not be considered to be a gourmet ingredient.  However, I often find it preferable to regular bacon because of its crunchier texture when properly cooked.  The key to making it is to add a little canola oil to the pan which gives the turkey bacon, a very lean ingredient, a needed boost of fat and helps to prevent it from scorching.  The salmon can be plated on a bed of rice, bulgur wheat or simply over greens dressed with a light citrus dressing– it all depends on how heavy a meal you would like.

The dish is a study in contrasts and balance: I love maple syrup with bacon.  Voila– Sweet Salmon vs. Salty Turkey.  I am enamored by texture in my food: Soft Rice vs. Crispy Bacon.  Then there is the savory nuttiness of the asparagus as counterpoint to the Blank Slate of Simple White rice.  Happy does not begin to describe how this makes me feel.  


Oven-Baked  Maple Salmon with Asparagus & Toasted Turkey Bacon “Linguine”


  • 1 lb. Wild-Caught Salmon seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1/8 Cup EVOO
  • 1/8 Cup Maple Syrup
  • Two Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme
  • 8 strips of turkey bacon cut lengthwise into thin strips
  • 1 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 10 thin Asparagus Spears (if this is not available the thicker ones may be used, but be peeled to remove the fibrous outer skin
  • 1 Tbsp. EVOO to saute the Asparagus
  • 1/4 Tsp. Black sesame seeds
  • Thyme Sprig for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Combine the Melted Butter, EVOO, Maple Syrup and Thyme in a bowl and brush onto the Salmon
  3. Wrap the salmon in aluminum foil, leaving enough room for the salmon to “breathe”, but ensuring tha no steam will escape
  4. Place on a cooking sheet in the oven for 35 minutes
  5. While the Salmon is cooking, heat up a pan and add the Canola Oil
  6. Cook the Turkey Bacon strips in the pan being careful not to scorch but making sure that the Turkey Bacon is crisped up  and set aside
  7. While the Turkey Bacon is cooking, steam the Asparagus to make it tender, but ensure that it turns a bright green color and then plunge in an ice bath to stop the cooking
  8. Remove the Salmon from the oven and set aside– do not pierce the foil since we want the salmon to stay warm while the dishes are
  9. Add 1 Tbsp. EVOO to the same pan that the Turkey Bacon was cooked in and saute the Asparagus until it begins to carmelize
  10. Remove Asparagus and pat dry with paper towels
  11. Toss the Asparagus with the  Turkey Bacon strips and plate
  12. Pierce the foil making sure not to burn yourself with the escaping steam and plate the salmon over a bed of your favorite grains or greens (such as a red leaf lettuce). 
  13. Make sure to spoon some of the maple-butter-olive oil sauce over the salmon and sprinkle with Black Sesame Seeds
  14. Garnish with Thyme Sprig

Serves 2

Sybarite Sauvage ©

Posted June 21, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

3 responses to “No-Guilt Wednesday Wine: Santa Ema Reserve Chardonnay 2008

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  1. You talk about the salmon, asparagus, and turkey bacon in the photo … but what about the buns?

    • G,

      You see buns, I see breaded chicken. Some ingredients should be kept as secrets! Best just to focus the discussion to items on the plate and in our glasses– the rest will take care of itself.

  2. Pingback: No-Guilt Wednesday Wine: Santa Ema Merlot 2008 « sybaritesauvage

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