Sat 12 Feb 2011
The recipe for this terrific soup, which includes a drizzle of balsamic reduction, came from New Flavors for Soups: Classic Recipes Redefined, a Williams-Sonoma book published by Oxmoor House in 2009 ($22.95). This is an easy dish, which requires some fine chopping — onion, carrots, celery — but mainly involved sipping a glass of wine and reading the newspaper while things simmer on the stove. The smoked turkey legs came from Whole Foods. The “balsamic drizzle” is just 3/4s of a cup of balsamic vinegar boiled down to 1/2 cup, though I took it down to the point above still runny sludge. Other items we have prepared from this nifty volume include Chicken and Hominy Soup with Ancho Chiles (excellent); Spicy Turkey and Jasmine Rice Soup with Lemongrass (not so successful but our fault for not working well with lemongrass); and Cumin-Spiced Shrimp and Chorizo Gumbo, which was fabulous. Anyway I prepared the Split-Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey on the night when LL teaches and had it ready when she got home, along with hunks of crusty bread and a simple red-leaf lettuce salad. For wine, I opened the Grgich Hills Estate Fumé Blanc 2009, Napa Valley. I include, below, notes on the 2008 version of this wine that I somehow neglected to write about last year. Winemaker is Ivo Jeramez. These wines were samples for review.
The Grgich Hills Estate Fumé Blanc 2009, Napa Valley, displays all the subtlety, suppleness and confidence that this wine typically offers. Made from certified organic and biodynamic estate vineyards in American Canyon and Carneros, the wine receives thoughtful treatment: 80 percent of the grapes ferment in 900-gallon French oak casks, with 20 percent fermented in used small French oak barrels; after fermentation, the wine rests on the lees in neutral barrels for six months. The result is a sauvignon blanc that balances richness and ripeness with nuanced details and elegant dimensions. Enticing aromas of peaches, yellow plums and roasted pears are permeated by hints of jasmine and honeysuckle and touches of nectarine. The wine is delicately grassy and herbal, with emphasis on juicy lemon and pear flavors beautifully set-off by fluent acidity, a finespun, almost lacy limestone element and that gently shaping hand of lightly spicy, nearly illusive wood. The texture is a seductive combination of graceful spareness and moderate lushness, with talc-like softness balanced by keen vivaciousness. Alcohol content is 14.3 percent. Drink now through 2012 or ’13. Excellent. About $30.
The Grgich Hills Estate Fumé Blanc 2008, Napa Valley, received the same treatment in the winery as its younger cousin from 2009, yet the result was a different sort of wine. The ’08 is just as lovely, no, even lovelier, but the emphasis is on smoky grapefruit and lime with slightly more obvious spiciness and a swaddling of oak that warms and frames the wine even as vivid acidity and a burgeoning limestone factor provide balancing crispness and liveliness. Ginger and quince, orange blossom and a touch of green leafiness underlie refined peach, pear and grapefruit aromas and flavors set into a structure that’s a little more rigorous, perhaps even more powerful than the structure of the ’09, though this model (2008) never loses touch with its essential elegance and sophistication. The sense of presence and tone, the wine’s assurance and self-possession are utterly convincing and gratifying; also, it’s completely delicious. We drank this wine with seared tuna, bok choy and sweet potato salad. 14.3 percent alcohol. Now through 2013 or ’14. Exceptional. About $30.