Monday, 21 January 2013

Fun, fun, fun on Food in Focus (discussing Riesling)

I once again had the privilege of being a guest on Natascha Moy's great food and wine show Food in Focus.  Natascha, in her blog, has already described what a great show it was, so I will not cover that ground again.  I will focus on describing the wines in more detail.

Back Left, Host Natascha Moy, Left Front, Jennifer Evans, Back Right Steve Shipley, Mikey Robins and Richard Tenser

When Natascha asked me to participate, we had to select a topic and after a couple of rounds, both agreed that the topic should be Riesling.  We both love Riesling!  I brought four bottles along for the show:
  • 2007 Annies Lane Copper Trail
  • 2000 Pokolbin Estate Hunter Riesling
  • 2009 Hugel Alsace
  • 2008 Grosset Polish Hill
During most of my wine drinking days,I have favored red wine.  90% - 95% of the wine I used to drink was of the red grape.  But over the last five years, I have shifted preferences and now 30% of the wine I drink is white wine, with 70% still being red.  And it was Riesling that got me over to white!  I love my Montrachets and I love my Hunter Valley Semillons, but it was Riesling that first got me on that journey to liking white wine more.

The Riesling grape is more impacted (and therefore varies in taste more) than any other white wine grape.  The impact of soil and climate on the grape is significant.  This leads to great variety and difference in the styles and quality of Riesling and what makes it such a fascinating grape.  The four bottles we shared on Food in Focus certainly was testament to that.

The first one we sampled was the 2007 Annies Lane Copper Trail Riesling.  This is a very typical Riesling from the Clare Valley.  It had strong typical lemon and lime flavors and a bit of mineral taste.  This is a very reasonably priced Riesling with a bit of acid yet and is still improving with each passing year. 

The next wine is the only example of a Riesling I have ever bought from the Hunter Valley.  The 2000 Pokolbin Estate though has been well awarded with seven Gold Medals and voted in the Top 10 wines in 2006.  It is softer than the Annies Lane, more viscous and more honeyed.  And it really went well with Jennifer Evans (winner of last years My Kitchen Rules) fish with coconut, curry and lime.  It was almost like we planned how well the food and wine went together.  The wine made the flavors in the fish first explode in your mouth and then the wine cooled down the palate.  The food flavors, especially the lime, was really brought out by the wine.

The 2009 Hugel is representative of a European Riesling from Alsace.  Drinkable today with a bit of acid.  When tasted on its own, it had strong grapefruit flavor, but when taken with the magnificent, yet subtle Massaman beef curry that Jennifer made, it tasted more of mango and pear.  It was amazing how the wine tasted on its own and when paired up with food.  The food brought out completely different tastes in the wine.

We finished with an iconic Australian Riesling, the Grosset Polish Hill from 2008.  This is a superb wine made and typical of a Riesling from the Polish Hill vineyard, it was very minerally and chalky - very acidic.  This wine is built to last and the best recommended drinking range for this wine is between 2028 and 2038!  This wine has some structure to it!  But is was still very enjoyable today.  I am glad to have about 6 bottles left to try over the next few decades.

And Natascha in her blog post claims the 2006 Grosset Polish Hill is even better, but I want to put her to the challenge.  I am not sure what she is basing this on.  Jeremy Oliver, James Halliday, and most others rate the 2008 better than the 2006, and the 2008 goes for about 20% more in cost than the 2006 on the secondary markets.  Therefore, I want a seat at Food in Focus in 2023 or 2028 when we have a taste-off between the 2006 (brought by Natascha) Grosset Polish Hill and the 2008 (brought by me) Grosset Polish Hill.  And Jennifer Evans is invited back to bring the Thai food!

Before I go, I just wanted to make a mention to the Lunchalot guys.  This is a great business concept and a win, win, win for the consumer, the restaurants and the Lunchalot business.  I really like this concept and am now a member myself.  Check them out!  And log in to Food in Focus every Saturday at 4 pm for more fun with food and wine.

Steve Shipley
Twitter: @shipleyaust
My other blog (on business, tech, world issues):  Steve Shouts Out!

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