By Karen MacNeil
Dungeness Crab season has just opened—the first time it’s opened before Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. And just in the nick of time, because I need to drink some stunning chardonnay. Not just anyone’s chardonnay.
The wine that would be ethereal is White Rock Reserve Chardonnay, a richly elegant wine that tastes like the color gold and feels like vintage cotton.
I suppose that normally, in anticipation of the grandeur of Dungeness crab, a lot of people like me would be ordering some of it right now, and the winery would be abuzz with happiness. But much of White Rock was incinerated in the recent fires that were reported to have reached over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. The old buildings and the family homes are gone.
Miraculously, the old vines survived as did the old cave winery where the current wines were safely stored.
To this, I think there is only one response. Buy wine (www.whiterockvineyards.com).
Not only White Rock’s lovely wines, but any wines from northern California. Buying those wines now is an act of hope, an act of reciprocal gratitude, and the ultimate act of thanksgiving. (For who among us can imagine a life without wine?)
And just to lighten up the mood a bit, there is that miracle of an excuse—Dungeness crab. Accompanied by crusty loaves of sourdough bread and washed down with really good chardonnay, Dungeness crab may well be the West Coast’s richest indulgence.
Though there are more than 4,000 species of crabs in the world (and more of these live off the coasts of North America than anyplace else), there are only a few that serious eaters need to know about, and the most delicious among these is arguably the Dungeness, up to 25 million pounds of which are landed in a good year.
Between 20 and 28 percent meat by weight and weighing about four pounds each, Dungeness crabs are prized for their pure, succulent, sweet flavor. As a result, they’re often served cold with nothing more than warm melted butter as a dipping sauce. Which is where chardonnay comes in. Rich and hopefully even a touch minerally, chardonnay’s flavors mirror a lump of butter-drenched crabmeat like no other wine can.
A last note: The California Department of Public Health monitors all shellfish, including Dungeness crab for elevated levels of naturally occurring marine toxins like domoic acid, which can cause illness in humans. The CDPH toll-free Shellfish Information Hotline is 800 553 4133.