Dry U.S. Riesling: Hermann J Wiemer Dry Riesling Magdalena Vineyard 2014 – Pairing Rating: 9.5 out of 10.0
In 1961, Craig Claiborne published The New York Times Cookbook. Numbingly comprehensive, relatively uncomplicated (most recipes have 10 ingredients or less), but the recipes are definitely 50 years old stylistically. There are, nonetheless, recipes in that cookbook that continue to impress today. One of them is Cream of Curried Pea Soup. Every summer, we get accolades when we serve this soup as an appetizer at our Vermont house. Do you recall the applause when the 50-year-old Aston Martin DB5 appeared in the most recent 007 Skyfall movie??? Same thing . . . sort of.
This recipe never made it to the Internet, so I’ve reproduced it below, cutting back on the cream from the original. Note the variety of vegetables used in the soup. These give the finished product greater complexity than more modern recipes, many of which simply use peas. More complexity in the soup = more bridges for the wine pairing. So here’s the rundown:
1 cup shelled fresh peas or frozen peas
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 small carrot, peeled & sliced
1 celery stalk with leaves, sliced
1 medium red potato, peeled & sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled whole
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream (original recipe called for 1 cup)
Making the soup is a breeze. Place all of the ingredients (except the heavy cream) in a saucepan and bring to boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Transfer all the ingredients to a blender. Process until smooth and lump-free. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the heavy cream until well-integrated. Chill. Serve garnished with a little paprika.
When it comes to pairing a wine with this soup, there are two in-your-face markers: cream, which means you will want a wine with some cleansing acidity, and curry, which calls for a touch, just a touch, of residual sweetness to quell the heat of the curry. Riesling brings both to the table.
We have a number of posts where we have paired foods with German Rieslings. The most recent one was Riesling and Spicy Chicken. This time, however, we thought we would pair the soup with one of our favorite producers in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State: Hermann J. Wiemer. These long, narrow lakes provide this northern climate with a moderating effect: storing the summer warmth and softening the harsh winters. The wine growers in this region have proven that Rieslings grafted on American rootstock can produce dry, age-worthy wines here.
We chose the 2014 Wiemer Dry Riesling from the Magdalena Vineyard ($38) to pair with this soup. The wine’s nose served up a bouquet of lemon/lime blossoms and a hint of fennel, while the crisp acidity on the palate reminded us of yellow apple with a touch of melon. Trish found the wine to be balanced, clean and fresh, with just a touch of sweetness to stand up to the heat of the curry. For me, the winning feature of the wine was that the finish did not overwhelm the lingering, complex taste of the soup. Together, they were a perfect combination: after the sip, you tasted both the soup and the wine in balance. Incredible . . . and ideal.
The Wiemer Dry Rieslings, along with their Finger Lakes’ peers (Red Newt single vineyard and Ravines – Argetsinger) may be hard to find outside the Northeast, but they are available from the wineries and are worth the extra effort. Better yet, jump in your DB5 and cruise up to the Finger Lakes for the fall harvest! The wooded, rolling hills surrounding the lakes are gorgeous in full color. No wonder this was a Victorian playground.