Refreshing viognier delicious with smoked salmon, vegetable rémoulade and mustard
Our Wine of the Week, Anaba, 2019 Landa Vineyard, Sonoma Valley Viognier ($36), is bright, refreshing, delicate and pretty. It’s more restrained than some earlier iterations of a varietal that was once anticipated to be the popular new kid on the block. That never happened, and, for more than a decade, viognier has been flying along under the radar. Earlier California viogniers were often so floral that drinking them was like drinking a bouquet. Some had so much forward fruit that the wine seemed sweet even when it was bone dry.
This beauty wipes the slate clean of all those impressions. There is plenty of fruit, but it is all beautifully integrated, with no one element dominating. There are hints of not-quite-ripe stone fruit and green melon, suggestions of pink grapefruit and white alpine strawberries and an aroma evocative of spring orchards. A crisp, lingering finish evokes cool river rocks.
If you mistook this wine for a sauvignon blanc, no one would fault you as it has a refreshing quality typically associated what that varietal. But it’s not a copycat wine and is distinctive on its own, especially as it warms a bit in the glass.
For years, salmon with mango salsa was thought to be one of the best pairings for viognier, but I don’t think that’s the best way to go with this one. Instead, look to dishes that include mustard, either a bit or a lot. Poulet au moutarde and lapin au moutard flatter the wine, as do cream of mustard soup, chickpea salad with mustard vinaigrette and, perhaps surprisingly, beef tongue in mustard-vinegar sauce, which is a delightful match. The tangy mustard, with its slight flourish of heat, encourages subtle elements of the wine to blossom.
These qualities inspire today’s recipe. The salad itself is based on the classic French céleri rémoulade, with other root vegetables added. Smoked salmon joins the two for a voluptuous and compelling match. Salmon gravlax, which is salmon cured with salt, is an even better match, and you should use it if you happen to have some. If you don’t, your favorite smoked fish will be perfect.
Root Vegetable Rémoulade with Smoked Salmon
Makes 6 to 8 Servings
1 small to medium celery root, peeled and trimmed
2 small carrots, peeled and trimmed
2 small parsnips, peeled and trimmed
1 bunch radishes, trimmed
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup crème fraîche or a blend of ½ cup crème fraîche and ½ cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon brined green peppercorns (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh snipped chives
Black pepper in a mill
10 to 12 ounces gravlax, smoked salmon, smoked trout, smoked sturgeon or other smoked fish
Using the large blade of a box grater or the large grating blade of a food processor, grate the vegetables and transfer them to a medium mixing bowl. (If you prefer, use a mandoline’s narrow blade to cut the vegetables into small julienne.) Add the lemon juice and toss well. Set aside briefly.
Put the crème fraîche (and mayonnaise, if using) and mustard in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Add the green peppercorns, if using, and the chives. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside about ⅓ cup of the dressing and add the rest to the bowl with the grated vegetables. Toss gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve, divide the rémoulade among individual plates and top with some of the smoked fish. Add a dollop of the reserved dressing and enjoy right away.
Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “The Good Cook’s Book of Mustard,” from which this dish is adapted. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.