… for many reasons but what I’m thinking of particularly is because LL is such a great cook. I tell her this all the time, and she dismisses my praise by saying something like, “Well, I’ve been cooking for a long time, you just learn things.” I think it’s more than that. LL possesses the instinct and intuition that tell her what flavors, spices and herbs compliment each other; she has the ability to add a squeeze of lemon juice here, a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar there, a sliver of butter in this other place and voila, a dish had been intensified. I mean, I take some pride in my Bolognese sauce, but when LL creates a similar sauce, it’s just better, deeper, more resonant.

Even a dish as simple as shrimp risotto, which she made one night last week, ends up being sublime. She served this with asparagus, first blanched and then sauteed with bits of roasted red pepper. What a great meal!

I opened a bottle of Silverado Chardonnay 2008, Napa County. (Yes, “county,” not “valley.”) The winemaking here is carefully done. Grapes for this wine derive from three estate vineyards: Miller Ranch (55%), south of Yountville; and Vineburg (23%) and Firetree (22%), in Carneros, with Vineburg closer to San Pablo Bay. Ninety-one percent of the wine undergoes barrel-fermentation and 9 percent is fermented in stainless steel. The wine ages six months in 95 percent French oak barrels and 5 percent American oak; only 40 percent of the barrels are new. Finally, 34 percent of the wine goes through the malolactic process. I mention these details to show how deliberately winemaker John Emmerich treats the balance of wood to fruit, creating a chardonnay that’s subtle and supple without the overbearing influence of oak or malolactic-induced creaminess. (And it’s amazing how many wineries in California tart up their chardonnays with cheap oak and malolactic effects!)

Instead, the Silverado Chardonnay 2008 is balanced, harmonious and integrated. Classic grapefruit and pineapple flavors are rich yet restrained, slightly smoky and tinged with baking spice. A few minutes in the glass bring up notes of autumnal stone fruit and hints of jasmine. Within a lovely, moderately lush texture, acidity is apple-crisp, and in the sustained finish a thread of limestone ties all elements together. Drink now through 2011. Excellent. About $25.

A review sample.