What do you drink in a big wine week when you know you've got a couple of hundred wines to taste in a weekend ahead? What do you drink the night before when it's your husband's birthday and you are going out to dinner but you don't want over indulge. For me it's something light and low alcohol, preferably made from the riesling grapes. Fortunately this style of wine is becoming easier and easier to find, although the best ones do cost and most come from Germany.
Like the 8% alcohol Von Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Riesling Auslese 2003 from the Mosel, which I tried last Wednesday
(see blog) and thought outstandingly gorgeous but will only give a dollar change from three $20 notes.
Looking at what's available locally I thought about the scintillatingly gorgeous 7.5% alcohol Pegasus Bay Aria Riesling 2006 from the Waipara Valley. Not a mere snip at $38.99 a bottle, but I'd had that just two weeks before
(see blog) and wanted something different.
In the end I settled on a 7.5% alcohol Brauneburger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Spatlese 1998, from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, which was reviewed as a
Wine of the Week in December 2002. It tasted even better, with a powerful honeyed richness building in the palate, while the low alcohol made sure the senses stayed alert. And despite the wine's sweetness, you could almost say it went with a main course of roasted duck in a zesty, fragrant, orange-infused sauce.
So to finish the dinner, what should one do? I'd say stick to the same theme with a low alcohol sweet wine, but one made with more obvious sweetness, one that would be considered a 'desert wine'. Top choice for me was Spy Valley Marlborough Noble Riesling 2006, a wine I had scored 18.5 out of 20 in a blind tasting line-up. But it might not be everyone's idea of a gold medal sweetie because it's not one of those lusciously rich and totally botrytis influenced wines, it's not like the wine that's going to be the Champion Sweetie when the Easter Show Wine Awards trophies are announced. Instead there's a slightly Germanic character to it with underpinning acidity to keep it clean and pure with the richness of the botrytis taking over to fill out the finish. It's fresh and seemingly light with apple dominant flavours underpinned by marmalade-like acidity and the spritzy texture helping to retain its bright freshness which makes it suitable for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner.
We, of course, had it late at night and Neil accompanied it with a Creme Brulee. I had a wee taste and found the acidity of the wine cut through the creaminess of the custard while the toffee coating of the brulee complimented the sweetness of the wine.
But to prove the point we later accompanied the wine with a fresh salad made of watermelon, pear, cucumber, tomato and Thai basil, and it actually worked! The combination of fruit with Thai Basil is an effective contrast in itself and rather fascinating with this Spy Valley sweetie.
By the way, Neil said this about the wine, "Citrus and hot waxy honey comb. The sweetness is well balanced by the lemon acidity. Great length, with a tangelo flavour that just keeps going on."
Spy Valley Marlborough Noble Riesling 2006 is packaged in a 375 ml bottle with a screwcap closure. It has 9.5% alc by volume, 7.6g/l total acidity and an amazing 170g/l of residual sugar - although it doesn’t seem like that much. This is also reasonably affordable, with a recommended retail price of just $19.99 a bottle.
Spy Valley Marlborough Noble Riesling 2006 is not made every year - only when the conditions are right. Check out www.spyvalley.co.nz to find out more.
© Sue Courtney
5 Mar 2007