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Senior Tim Fish joined the Wine Spectator staff in 2001. His tasting beat includes Oregon, Washington, California Zinfandel and Rhône-style reds, and U.S. sparkling wines.
Tim Fish

A Lively White with Soul-Warming Soup

Honig Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2009

Tim Fish
Posted: January 28, 2011

If chicken soup is Jewish penicillin then miso soup is the Japanese version, so during flu season I don’t take a chance: I make miso chicken soup. Even when I’m not sick, and even if it takes two hours to make, I feel spoiled. I cook the chicken slow and low and stir in onions, ginger, garlic, mushrooms and bok choy.

It’s the sort of dish that needs a particular wine. The soup is rich and has layers of complex Asian flavors. A full-flavored Chardonnay might come off fat and clumsy, so that isn’t my first choice, and yet a bracingly crisp white like a Grüner Veltliner or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would be too much of a contrast.

I prefer a California Sauvignon Blanc that plays it down the middle, like the Honig Napa Valley 2009 ($16) I served with the soup recently. The wine’s key grape source is Honig’s estate vineyard in Rutherford and except for 1 percent Sémillon, it’s pure Sauvignon Blanc. It’s fermented in stainless steel and then aged for three months in a blend of stainless and large neutral oak casks. It has floral citrus aromas with a touch of grass and crisp yet creamy nectarine and lemon flavors that have a refreshing finish. I rated it 89 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Honig Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2009 (88, $16).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Top Values among Sauvignon Blancs from California.

Jeremiah Morehouse
Sacramento CA —  January 28, 2011 4:20pm ET
I gotta agree with you Tim, I am a fan of the Honig as a go to for a non agressive California SB. I like the 89 point rating, very fair.
I visited Le Macchiole in Bolgheri today, have you ever tasted their Paleo Bianco? Its SB blended with Chard done in more a White Bordeaux Style. I felt that the 2009 was live and racy, balanced and great, around 91 points id say. Ill have the article up on my visit fairly soon.
Tim Fish
Santa Rosa, CA —  January 28, 2011 5:14pm ET
Thanks Jeremiah. I'll look for it.
Mark Lyon
Sonoma, CA; USA —  January 29, 2011 7:40pm ET
I drank the 09 Honig SAB BTG in Vegas a week ago. How ironic? I liked it very much with ceviche at the time. Call me provincial; but I am not a fan of very grassy, gooseberry, high acid NZ SAB. I prefer more richness in the Napa and Sonoma versions. Always thought SAB belongs on soils too rich for Cabernet in those areas. Now, I'll have to try SAB w/ Miso and Chicken soup. Always luv boiling those Rocky free range chicken bones; big believer in making your own stock!
Tim Fish
Santa Rosa, CA —  January 29, 2011 7:59pm ET
Thanks for the note, Mark. Great comments.

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