Cedar Planked Salmon with Chardonnay

Continuing the theme of summer BBQ’s and grilling, one of my favorites, with a perennial WOW! factor on my friends and guests, is a braided, cedar planked salmon (Get the fully documented recipe from my ZenGourmand.com site).

I usually serve this with rice (50% long grain and 50% Manomin, i.e. Canadian wild rice) and seasonal grilled vegetables.

This recipe does not present any real pairing challenges and a good quality Californian or Burgundian Chardonnay will complement this dish very well but if Chardonnay is not to your liking or you’d rather have a red, there are some options.

Keep in mind the following considerations:

  • Salmon is a flavourful, rich and fatty fish
  • Grilling it enhances the flavours
  • Grilling adds smokiness
  • Grilling on a Cedar board will add additional subtle or strong smoke flavours (depending on whether you water soak the board or not)
  • This recipe uses mapel syrup as well, therefore adding sweetness and caramelized flavours
  • Salt (Sea or Kosher) also plays a significant role in this recipe
  • Rice is relatively neutral but the Manomin adds some earthy flavours to the dish
  • Grilled vegetables typically have an enhanced flavour and add some acidity to the palate.

My first choice will always be a good quality, carefully oaked Californian Chardonnay. They tend to be fruit forward and can match the strong flavours of the dish. They retain sufficient acidity to cut the fattyness of the salmon and echo the acidity of the vegetables. The toasted smokey notes of oaked Chardonnay will echo the smokyness of the dish while the caramel and vanilla aromas derived from toasted oak can harmonize with the sweetness of caramelized maple syrup.

If you are leaning more towards the French style of Chardonnay, a good quality Beaune will work wonderful.

If you are a diehard red wine drinker you can’t go wrong with a New World style of Pinot Noir, preferably Californian from Sonoma, Santa Barbara or Monterey. These Pinots are fruity, have good acidity and soft tannins (harsh tannins are the enemy of fish and salt).

Here are some possibilities:

Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay, (LCBO 608653 ), $ 24.95

This light yellow chard displays aromas of ripe orchard and tropical fruit, buttery toasted oak notes, nuts and citrus with hints of minerals. Medium – full bodied and substantial alcohol (14.5%).

Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay , (LCBO 933077), $ 19.95

Light honey-gold in colour, this wine offers nutty, toasty oak, warm apple and dairy notes on the nose. It’s medium bodied and replays orchard fruits on the palate with balanced acidity and just a hint of residual sugar up front.

2006 Chalone Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir, (LCBO 710145), $ 30.50

This medium ruby red Pinot shows good and complex intensity of cherry, light toasty oak, cedar and graphite with hints of dried meat and chocolate. This is a full bodied and slightly boozy (14.4%) style of Pinot that will really shine with this dish.

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