I have not had the chance to post much this summer. Most of my writing time is in the wee hours of the morning before my family wakes up. As part of the family ritual I have been staying up past my bed time to play spades with my older kids and that means a later wake up time for me. This also means I get to expand my wine drinking time as this gives me a longer window in the evening to enjoy each bottle.
For this installment I opened a bottle of Gobelsburger Riesling, the sibling of this month’s wine-of-the-month selection, their Gruner Veltliner. I would have made this wine the WOM selection if there was enough of it but sadly the distributor only had 26 cases, less than half our needs. It’s a shame really, the Gruner is very good but the Riesling from this ancient Trappist order is one of the best examples from Austria for the money.
A lot of wine drinkers erroneously think that the wines produced in Austria are like those of Germany, showing varying levels of residual sugar. The fact is that almost all wine produced in Austria is dry, sharing a lot of the same characteristics with the wines of Northeast Italy. Because the area receives more sunlight and wind than most European regions and is also very dry, the wines are generally higher in alcohol and display a great deal of stone-y, mineral quality.
To give you some context for this wine, the meal is seared sea scallops with fennel and leek risotto. (This is a take on the dish I prepared from Chronicles 3) I am looking for a wine that will draw sweetness from the scallops but also stand up to the flavors of the risotto, as I have caramelized the fennel and leeks first. My first choice turns out to be a very tired bottling of 2002 Coulee de Serrant from Nicholas Joly. This is a wine that can take hours to evolve but the deep amber color and strong note of aldehydes lead me to open a second bottle of wine, this time the Gobelsburger. (Time would prove me right, the Joly bottling is completely cooked.)
My first smell of the Gobelsburger reminds me of a comment by an Italian winemaker describing his Soave, “flowers and stones.” The nose is a subtle blend of wet pebbles, iris, honeysuckle and just trimmed lantana. In the mouth this wine is chiseled and tight, under ripe peach and nectarine flavors dancing with more wet pebbles and a bit of green apple. The pairing with dinner is spectacular, with the Riesling pulling the perfect level of sweetness from both the scallops and the risotto. I also drizzled the whole dish with a little thyme oil to bring an extra level of richness and aroma, this played to the sleek quality of the wine.
So again I encourage all of you to look at Riesling with a fresh set of eyes. The first four Chronicles have examined the drier side of Riesling and the modern ways this grape works with cuisine. For the last couple of installments I will be delving into the sweeter side, showing that much like great sweet tea, these wines have what it takes at the right time and place.