Happy New Year to all you very special readers of The Kitchn. May 2009 bring you much happiness, good health and good fortune and may you continue to enjoy good food with good wine in good company.
A friend's sister called last week, asking for advice on wines she should buy for her sister and brother-in-law, who were treating themselves to a wine refrigerator. Maybe Santa brought you a wine fridge, and you too are wondering how to stock it. This request reminded me of a conversation I had with Faith a while back on recommending special wines to lay down -- wines that would improve with further cellaring, and yet wouldn't break the bank.
We agreed that the wines should not cost more than $100. Expensive, you might think, but an affordable luxury in tough economic times, compared to $2000 on a new bag or pair of shoes!
Most wine is consumed within 24 hours of purchase. But isn't it nice to be able to bring out an older bottle for a special gathering of friends or family, and enjoy a wine that has gained complexity from age. It is quite amazing what even a few years can add to a wine.
But remember: most of the everyday, cheaper commercial wines that we buy and love do not improve with age. So drink those up sooner than later!
So what shall I start with this first post on wines to lay down? Where else but one of my very favorite wine regions and grape varieties: German Riesling. As I discussed in an earlier post, German wines are not the easiest for consumers to understand. Good quality German Riesling exemplifies the greatest purity of fruit expression and conveys an indelible sense of place.
While it is true that there is much commercial quaffing German Riesling produced, for the most part top German Riesling wines are some of the longest-lived wines in the world.
Over many years I have had the privilege to enjoy the wines from renowned producer Robert Weil, from the Rheingau region of Germany. Weingut Robert Weil is situated in the picturesque Gothic village of Kiedrich. The winery produces a wide selection of wines, both in the more traditional off-dry and sweet styles, as well as dry styles.
The two wines that I want to showcase today are both single vineyard wines from their acclaimed Kiedrich Gräfenberg vineyard, which dates back to the end of the 12th century and translates as 'Hill of the Counts."
The vineyard is planted 100% with Riesling, and is 27 acres in size. Kiedrich Gräfenberg is the only vineyard site in the world in which grapes for every quality category of German wine, have been produced every year since 1989.
• 2005 Robert Weil, Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Dry Erstes Gewächs (Grand Cru) 2005 Rheingau $60 - Inviting nose of tropical fruit, stone fruit and hints of spice and mineral notes. On the palate, it is dry, vibrant and excels expectations. Complex and rich, it delights the entire palate with its persistent fruit and stony mineral concentration. It also has an excellent structure of acid and alcohol, which is in perfect balance with the opulent fruit.
While I thoroughly enjoyed tasting this wine it is young and will most certainly improve over the next 6-8 years. A fairly versatile wine at the table. We had it with sauteed wild mushrooms in a cream sauce. But try it with scallops, Bouillabaise, Chicken Tagine or Greek Mezze dishes.
• 2004 Robert Weil, Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Spätlese, Rheingau $65 - I could just sit and nose this wine all evening. Such is the depth of expression of ripe mango, apricot, persimmon and honeyed tangerine. layers of aromas led to even more layers of flavors, where the zesty acidity perfectly balanced the Spätlese level of sweetness. This is a wine for long cellaring, 5-10 years, where it will evolve and develop many more layers of honeyed complexity. We enjoyed this wine recently with Asian roasted muscovy duck.
Try it with other Asian inspired dishes such as sweet and sour pork,
And, if you feel it is a bit much to splurge $60+ on wine, Weingut Robert Weil makes a fabulous estate dry (trocken) Riesling, which is a staple in our household and retails for about $20.
Robert Weil wines are available from many wine stores, including
And may 2009 be a year when you all have many reasons to open a special bottle.
Until next week, good health and best wishes
(Wine rack from this post: Best Wine Racks)