Some women buy shoes, I buy tickets to wine dinners.
Which is exactly what I did when I found that Play (see link for my previous review of the wine and food restaurant) was doing a Riesling only dinner. Especially since I heard there was going to be a 1999 late harvest riesling from the Niagara region.
For a more official breakdown: Click here
I put on my sunday best and headed out (solo) to the dinner on the 27th. Upon arriving I was greeted by the welcoming staff and a welcoming glass NV Riesling Sekt Reinhartshausen, Rheingau, Germany. It was zippy, mineraly, and refreshing. A perfect start and palate cleanser.
The canapés were a lovely accompaniment with the dry bubbles. I only took mental notes and from memory there was a spiced gazpacho, proscuitto, and smoked (maybe) dried trout all with delicious garnishes which I can’t recall. Go figure. Luckily the next three dishes were on paper.
We started with a Tilapia ceviche, sweet potato puree, lime, grilled corn, and cilantro. This was paired with two Rieslings which are grown side by side but show two very different characteristics:
Foxcroft block, Wismer Vineyard, 2027 Cellars, Niagara, 2012
On it’s own: Great acidity, white peach, petrol, lovely minerality and balance
With the dish: This was the table favourite with the dish, the cilantro and freshness from the tilapia paired lovely with the minerality and acidity structure in this wine. Delish!
Foxcroft block, Wismer Vineyard, Leaning Post, Niagara, 2013
On it’s own: All apricot not the citrusy minerality characteristics that have become the norm around the Niagara region. It had more body than the 2027 but had an unfortunately lacklustre finish.
With the dish: The sweetness from the sweet potato matched well with the sweetness in the wine and the lime gave this wine the acidic kick needed.
Result: I really enjoyed the 2027 with this dish. I am the kind of person who could pick cilantro and eat it in the handfuls. The cilantro and 2027 we’re delicious then the sweetness from the corn and sweet potato came forth to tame the flavours and give this pairing a lovely finish.
Then came the pork belly, spicy thai sauce, sweet onion puree, thai basil, forbidden rice, baby boo choym and cauliflower. This was paired with:
Rolly Gassmann, Alsace, France 2009
On it’s own: Citrus peel, white stone fruit, light floral, high body, alcohol, honeyed paraffin wax floral slight acetone. Dry finish.
With the dish: Unfortunately, this one didn’t work for me in the pairing. I found it turned a little lacklustre and lost all its interesting characteristics. The stone fruit and honeyed flavours were still present but maybe the acid wasn’t enough to punch through the pairing.
Spätlese, Üriger Würzgarten, Dr. Hermann, Mosel 2007
On it’s own: Huge minerality, citrus, slight spritz, petrol, lime, pungent cheese, soft acid, and well integrated alcohol. Great citrusy finish.
With food: Was a great pairing the acidity cut through the fat of the pork belly and you were left with lovely lime in the back palate.
Result: I enjoyed the Alsace riesling on it’s own but it fell through the gaps when paired. On the other hand, I loved the balance of pungency, minerality, and citrus of the German Mr. Hermann Spätlese. It was spot on when on it’s own and hit all the right notes with the food pairing. It was the clear choice between the two for me.
Now time for the sweets, we were treated to a apple strawberry strudel with apple compote. There was a caramel chantilly but due to my intolerance to lactose I missed out… super sadface. They were paired with a mini-vertical of Cave Springs late harvest riesling.
Cave Springs Cellars, Indian Summer Late Harvest Riesling, Niagara, Canada, 2011
On it’s own: Lovely aromatics, smoke, candied orange peel, balancing acidity.
With the dish: The acidity helps break up the sweetness in the dish. The luscious body helped give the strudel a bit of a boost (since it was missing the chantilly)
Cave Springs Cellars, Indian Summer Late Harvest Riesling, Niagara, Canda 2010
On it’s own: Smoke, good finish, citrus candied orange peel, tangerine, cooked pineapple
With the dish: The warmer vintage provided this pairing with the sweetness needed to boost the desserts sugar level. A nice pairing.
Cave Springs Cellars, Indian Summer Late Harvest Riesling, Niagara, Canada 1999
This was the one we were excited about. There’s nothing like an older more experienced wine to cap off the night… and this was no exception. Coming from a very young region this was still winning. A big hit of smoke, petrol, and dried fruit (sultanas and fig), an unctuous mouth coating body and sweetness, with the acid to balance it all out. At this point the apple strawberry crumble mysteriously had disappeared, funny that. This could of been a travesty but the 1999 can easily stand on it’s own two feet as a dessert with the exceptional accompaniment of a piece of blue cheese.
Result: I enjoyed the 2010 and 1999 for different reasons. 2010, for it’s balance of zippiness, smoke, and sweet characteristics. The 1999 for its aged characteristics and just the thought of the pairing with blue cheese makes me warm and fuzzy inside.
Overall, this was a great dinner with amazing geeky wino conversations. When you realised you’re rambling on about how sherry is “sooo misunderstood” you know you’re in great company. Keri Smith (Wine Director) and Tim Stock (Chef de Cuisine) did an excellent job highlighting elements in both the wine and food and providing everyone with an opportunity to mix and match pairings. Keri was also very eloquent and enthusiastic in her introductions to each wine. She commanded attention (even towards the end) and everyone listened very attentively which is a sign of a) well trained guest or b) a great public speaker or both.
I’m a big believer that there’s a wine for every occasion.
This just particular dinner proved that no matter what the occasion, Riesling is that wine.