Riesling is widely considered one of the most food-friendly white wines, but that’s not the reason I thought it would go well with my sugar snap pea and pea-microgreen salad with ginger-curry vinaigrette.
What’s enticing about this salad is the wonderful contrast between the delicate green-sweetness of the peas and the rich, spicy, gingery vinaigrette. I needed a wine that would connect with both elements. That’s when a dry Riesling came to mind.
So I stopped by my local wine store, Piermont Fine Wines, with the intention of asking its cheerful owner, Jung Kim, what Rieslings he had on the shelf these days.
Before I had a chance to utter a word, Jung cried out to me: “Viviane! This amazing Riesling from Slovenia just came in. You must try it, it’s very unusual.”
He handed me a bottle, and I was sold!
A few days later, friends were coming over for dinner – the perfect setup to try out my new Riesling with the fresh pea salad. As it happens one of my guests walked in with a different bottle of Riesling, this one from Austria. So we were lucky enough to taste two fantastic Rieslings that night – each one quite distinct, and yet both pairing beautifully with the salad.
Marof – Renski Rizling, Slovenia 2007 ($20)
In 2006, Stanko Polanič and the distinguished Austrian winemaker Erich Krutzler founded Marof, a grand estate located on rolling hills, in the midst of unspoiled nature. “Not grapes, but wine is grown in the vineyard,” says Krutzler. It took only a few sips of the Renski Rizling 2007 to taste what he meant.
Made with 100% Riesling grapes and fermented for five months in steel barrels, this Riesling is bone-dry yet has the most wonderful, round texture. On the nose I picked up apple blossoms and citrus. In the mouth flavors of apricot kernels, Granny Smith apples and a hint of Meyer lemon revealed themselves. But what was most seductive about the wine was the way the flavors shined, making your tastebuds come alive.
Paired with my salad the wine did everything I wanted it to do. It highlighted the sweetness of the peas while bringing out the flavors of the vinaigrette, making the experience that much more intense. The crispness of the wine here was perfection.
The Marof, Renski Rizling 2007 can be purchased at Piermont Fine Wines.
Schloss Gobelsburg – “Gobelsburger” Riesling, Kamptal, Austria 2008 ($21)
Compared to the Marof Riesling, the Schloss was a bit sweeter, although still dry. Summer stone fruits and lemon blossom rose from the glass as I swirled it. Then mellow apricot and peach flavors exploded in the mouth, followed by a hint of ginger and lemon.
The wine’s stunningly creamy texture and summer fruit notes enhanced the sweetness of the peas. I marveled that two Rieslings could be so different and yet pair so perfectly with the same dish.
It’s hard to believe that the monks of Zwettl Monastery started making wines at Schloss in 1171. Today, winemaker Michael Moosbrugger preserves the two motifs of monastic life, simplicity and discipline, preserving the authenticity of the wines. And that authenticity stood out in every sip.
The day after our tasting, I called Eli Hardof, owner of the celebrated boutique wine store Wine for All in Orangeburg, NY. He has the 2009 vintage of the Schloss Gobelsburg, “Gobelsburger” Riesling in stock. The wine can be purchased at the store or online.
Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.