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Grape Expectations

Zeren Wilson is going to make you love Riesling, even if you don't want to

Written by . Published on January 24th 2012.

Grape Expectations

"It's like electricity." A comment from a bewildered taster as they experienced a dry German Riesling for the first time. It was something of a ‘eureka’ moment for them.

Spend a tenner on a Riesling from Germany and you're likely to have a liquid so chiselled, fragile and exhilarating that the memory will linger long after you've drained the last drops from the bottle.

In the wine trade we've been hollering the beauties of German Riesling from the rooftops for what seems like forever. Pound for pound, we know it unerringly delivers a better quality and value quotient than any white wine in the world. Spend a tenner on a Riesling from Germany and you're likely to have a liquid so chiselled, fragile and exhilarating that the memory will linger long after you've drained the last drops from the bottle.

Riesling was paraded by Jancis Robinson years ago as the most profound white wine grape in the world. Why? No other grape has the broad spectrum of flavours and possibilities, from the most knee-knocking dry and bracing styles from the Rheingau, to the most delicate and perfectly balanced sweeter styles from the Mosel. Naturally high acidity is a perfect counterpoint and keeps everything in check when making the sweeter styles.

Flavours lurch excitingly from the pure lemon/lime citrus and freshness of the dry styles, all the way through to exotic and lush examples hinting at mango, guava and pineapple. Burgundy makes some of the finest white wines on the planet, but it ain't got a hope of pulling off a similar magician's act of making world class dry and sweet wines.



Hakkasan HAKKASAN 8 Hanway Place, London W1T 1 HD

Riesling Urban 2010, St Urbans-Hof, Mosel, Germany – A wine displaying the precarious, thrilling balance between fruit and acidity at a delicate 9% abv.

Eat It With: Dim sum platter. The wine can even cope with the heat and sweetness in the dipping sauces, touch of residual sugar, perky acidity keeping things cleansing.

Corrigansmayfair CORRIGAN'S MAYFAIR 28 Upper Grosvenor St., London W1K 7EH

Riesling Bockenauer Trocken 2008, Weingut Schäfer-Frölich, Nahe, Germany ­– Made by a hot-shot new breed of winemaker, Tim Fröhlich is something of a boy wonder pushing the ‘new wave’ style of trocken wines. £39

Eat It With: Fillet of wild salmon dulse, oyster sauce and razor clam. Cuts effortlessly through the natural fatty character of salmon and rides the intense minerality and ocean twang of oyster with some aplomb.

Texture TEXTURE 34 Portman St., London W1H 7BY

Keller Trocken 2008, Rheinhessen, Nahe, Gemany – A winemaker dragging the reputation of Rheinhessen up by its bootstraps, historically the home of wines which helped erode the reputation of German wines, thanks to proliferation of the inferior Müller-Thurgau grape being used in showers of Liebfraumilch. This is proper, nervy Riesling from a confident, swaggering winemaker, Klaus Peter-Keller. £39

Eat It With: Icelandic lightly salted cod, barley risotto, prawns, grapefruit, shellfish jus. Saltiness of the cod and citrus of grapefruit can knock some wines sideways, particularly taking the stuffing out of lusher wines and making them appear stripped of fruit. This Riesling can trade punches blow for blow with the tricky element of grapefruit.




Coq Au Riesling Coq au Riesling
Serves 4

One chicken of about a kilo, one leek, two shallots, a clove of garlic, a small glass of cognac, 200g mushrooms, crème fraiche or double cream to taste, parsley, tarragon

1. Split and joint a good sized free range chicken. Brown in a large casserole in butter until well coloured.

2. In a second frying pan sweat the diced shallots, leeks and sliced mushrooms in some more butter.

3. Flambe the chicken pieces in cognac for a few seconds, then cover the pieces with the Reisling. Add the vegetables from the second pan and simmer gently for about twenty minutes, lift out the breasts and give the thighs another five to ten minutes. Turn off the heat and leave until ready.

4. To serve, warm the casserole again, add the cream or creme fraiche – two spoons is enough to cream the sauce but you can add more if you want. Garnish with chopped parsley and a little tarragon.

Serve with mashed or new potatoes or noodles and a green salad with a spiky vinaigrette.


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