Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Love Riesling

Very interesting meal for New Year's Day and one that we hadn't done in quite some time.  The meal was a semi-traditional Choucroute from the Alsace region of France.  Basically it was fresh sauerkraut with bacon, onions and apples braised in Riesling and vegetable stock in a low oven for most of the day.  Some bay leaves and juniper berries were also in the mix.  For the last hour we added baby back pork ribs, smoked sausage and a few pork steaks.

What wasn't traditional was at the very beginning.  On New Year's Eve when the steak had finished cooking on the grill I added some hickory chips for smoke and then slowly smoked two sections of pork shank (pork osso buco).  They spent an hour and a half in that smoky environment and picked up a wonderful aroma and a dark bronze color.  They were added to the pot early and braised along with the sauerkraut and apples.

The smokiness added a new dimension to this dish and one I really liked a lot.  I rinsed some of the saltiness out of the kraut before braising it but it was still piquant and sweet at the same time.  The house smelled wonderful.  The almost finished dish is pictured below.

The wine was Alsatian as well, a 2004 Hugel, Jubilee Hugel Riseling.  Flowers, soft yellow fruits and kerosene on the nose.  Viscous wine and almost oily in the mouth.  Lots of body.  Great acid balance.  Flavors of citrus, honey, almonds and flowers with subtle bits of the kerosene floating by at times.  Long finish with honey, acid and almonds at the end.  A wine I could drink more of, and probably will.  $20 and 13.5% alcohol.

Why I love Riesling is one of the reasons it seems to be a hard sell to others.  It can be made into so many different wines that without advanced knowledge it's hard to know what one is getting.  This wasn't like German Rieslings, it wasn't like Australian Rieslings, not like Austrian Rieslings and it certainly wasn't like American Rieslings.  It was it's own wine and it was lip smacking good.

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