Groom 2011 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc is boldly subtle; or, subtly bold? It’s one of the Club wines from Food and Wine magazine. We enjoyed it with wild salmon fillet — fearlessly complemented with creamy mashed potatoes and a subtly bold, creamy bacon and soy sauce gravy.
First — who’s Daryl Groom, actually?
He’s the much-honored pioneer maker of one of the world’s premier red wines, Penfolds Grange.
And he’s the winemaker hired by Henry Trione to move the young Groom kids to Geyserville, California, so he could ratchet up Trione’s Geyser Peak winery to world class.
And he’s the fearless Aussie who now is showing New Zealand Kiwi patriots how to keep the best elements of a white Bordeaux/Loire wine, Sauvignon Blanc, while suppressing some of the rustic exuberance of Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs they and Americans love.
Here in Sonoma County I had linked Groom’s name tightly with red wines, though he’s good with any grape he certifies as excellent. So I was a bit surprised to receive this white and I’m sure glad I did.
This wine has a shy nose, or so I thought because Sauvignon Blanc is so often grassy and even vegetal — the whole of the vineyard billowing out as the first glass is poured.The Wine Club detects gooseberry (a naturally subtle fruit), lemon zest, and “freshly mown” grass. I can’t disagree, but . . . those aromas did seem shy.
But wow! This wine tastes terrific — clean, bright acids bolster the aromas and the citric acid zings around the mouth and carries through to a long, bright aftertaste. Gooseberries, once meek, by now have visited a gym and, as you savor the wine even before your meal, gooseberry toughs it out with lemon. They both win.
First, I had considered a Chardonnay with the very nice wild sockeye salmon fillets. But my decision was to pair a robust fish with a light teriyaki style bacon sauce. (Mine was a “gravy,” really, since I made plenty of it to slather on potatoes, and Italians usually want a lot of gravy; sauce means just a teaser — and if it’s good they want lots of it.) The marriage of my choice — Groom Sauvignon Blanc — with this sauce was balanced nicely, just as a light Pinot Noir might have been. Neither overpowered the other; neither faded. Nice.
I serve salmon, usually, without skin unless it’s grilled. I put a bit of white wine (no, not this Groom) in a skillet, just enough to reach up to the fish flesh. A very few minutes of simmering, covered, loosens the skin which I chopped and fed to the dog (our Maine Coon cat wants nothing to do with fish!). I seasoned one side of the fish generously with coarse freshly crushed black pepper and the other side with . . . plenty of dried lavender. I sauted both sides in good olive oil and, once on the plate, I aimed a shot of lemon juice at it.
I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and light sour cream, plus some granulated garlic, to make fluffy mashed potatoes. The gravy also was built with light sour cream, a little of the Sauvignon Blanc, and good olive oil.
When I decided the color was too pallid, I threw in a little leftover coffee and a hefty splash of soy sauce. I finally added four crumbled slices of fried bacon.
It still needed something. Dried dill? Why not? Good idea. We all loved the sauce. Who woulda thunk?
And — it was a very good wine match.. — Bob Cramer, The Fearless Taster.