Costco sells these gigantic chicken pot pies: 2.5 kg/5.5 lbs, enough to feed a good ten people. I've always walked past them with a mix of curiosity and regret. It's a common blend of emotions at Costco, as you pass by five gallon jugs of mustard and 50 lb. bags of rice. But I thought, what the hell, it's only $15, I can grab a few friends and gnaw on the leftovers for a couple of days. In case you're curious, the crust is delicious but the rest is pretty basic. The sauce in particular needs more oomph, with reduced chicken broth and white wine, but hey, it works for simple comfort food.
I decided to serve the 2008 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc, $20, 13.9% abv. Marlborough, New Zealand. Golden delicious apple aromas, with a touch of flowers and Meyer lemon. Balanced acidity with full citrus fruit flavors. There's a touch of cedar and minerals on the finish. (Had I served a South Australia wine, I would have put the pie upside down in 16 litres of pea soup for the ultimate pie floater.)
I was very impressed with this wine, and it delivers additional complexity as it reaches room temperature. A great white wine tastes good but subtly different whether it's cool or at room temperature; a bad one only tastes good when it's near freezing. Oddly, this rule holds for beer as well. But I purchased the wine not based on its merits or land of origin. No, I noticed it years ago in an ad because the winery shares its name with my home neighborhood in Memphis.
Whitehaven is a little suburb on the south side of Memphis. It would be otherwise unremarkable, but this patch of earth where I was born and raised is also home to the world's busiest cargo airport (MEM, thanks to FedEx), as well as Elvis Presley's Graceland, which gets more than a half million visitors a year from all over the world. On the modern food front, Whitehaven is also the birthplace of Bryant Terry, pioneer of vegan soul food.
Still, despite the fond memories of my childhood it's not a part of town that I generally associate with wine. Poll a hundred random people in Memphis to come up with the name for a classy Sauvignon Blanc and nobody is going to answer "Whitehaven". But this is a damned good wine, and I'd encourage any current or former residents to try this out. And yes, a slightly crisp, full-fruit white wine like this will be an incredible pairing with many of the southern/soul food options available in the Whitehaven area.
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As a followup to the Thanksgiving post last Monday, this wine was felt by many to be the best wine at the gathering. The above post was a test run about a week before the holiday to check it out. The other more serious wine served was the Höpler Grüner Veltliner, though I don't have pictures or detailed notes to go along with it. Suffice it to say that the Höpler is a great way to get into Austrian wine, and I've found that it is a delicious pairing with shellfish like seared scallops. I'll revisit it in a couple of weeks.