Food & Wine Pros

A menu for Riesling

Earlier this week I was involved in judging a selection of South African rieslings at High Timber in London and afterwards we had a three course lunch that had been designed to match with them. This is what we ate and drank.

First the wines which were all tasted blind. There were just 16 of them, the purpose of the exercise being to assess where South Africa currently stands in comparison to its international competitors. Most were dry and a few sweet: pretty well all were appealing while, in the case of the drier wines, not yet having the complexity of more established Riesling producing countries and regions.

The winners were the crisp citrussy De Wetshof Rhine Riesling 2009 and Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest Weisser Riesling 2009 though we also particularly liked the late harvest Rieslings from Jordan (the Mellifera 2008) and Klein Constantia.

The first course was described as Nepalese Chicken and was a dry tikka-like dish served with a mint raita. It paired really well with the crisp young De Wetshof Riesling and also with Paul Cluver’s Close Encounter, a light 8% Riesling that had totally perplexed us having 39g of sugar but still tasting bone dry.

The next course was Coconut Poached Monkfish with Thai-spiced broth and steamed Pak Choi, a toned-down version of a Thai green curry (more creamy and coconutty, less hot). That worked particularly well with a limey 2008 Thelema Riesling which had been one of my own favourites in the line-up, and with the Klein Constantia and Jordan dry Rieslings.

Finally there was a dessert of mango with vanilla rice pudding with caramelised pistachios which I’d recommend to anyone seeking to show off a sweet Riesling: warm (rather than hot) rice pudding with fresh (Alfonso, I would guess) mango purée. The nuts would have been better uncaramelised, I think, just there to add a bit of texture. That was a great pairing with the Paul Cluver Late Harvest Riesling and with the 2008 Jordan Mellifera (but not with the 2006 which had evolved more marmaladey, Tokajish notes)


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