Monday, 25 July 2011

Riesling Week - Dry Riesling

There is a general perception that all Riesling is medium or sweet. And furthermore that because it is medium or sweet that somehow this denotes it is lesser quality, or that we somehow shouldn't like it!

I love medium and sweet Riesling because they have some fantastic flavours and acidity running through them and complexity of flavours that comes out as you drink them.

But, this blog is not about them. This blog is about dry Rieslings. Yes, they do exist, and they are well worth considering. As with the sweeter styles they are diverse and have a range of flavours depending on where they come from and how they're produced. Although Riesling Week is first and foremost about German Riesling, I will be a bit of a maverick here and put the cat amoung the pigeons as it should also be said that there are some excellent Rieslings from other countries, and they too are well worth trying. And since it is Riesling Week, this week is certainly the week to try them!

Australia, for one, is now making some fantastic dry Rieslings. One of the most famous is Jeffrey Grosset Polish Hills Riesling which now has somewhat of a cult following. Premium wine of outstanding quality.

The other as we have spoken about in other blogs and elsewhere is the dry 'Wonderland of the Eden Valley' Riesling from Dandelion Vineyards.

However, Germany too is making some fantastic dry Rieslings. The great thing with a dry Riesling is it matches a wide range of foods from fish dishes to Asian cuisine. It holds up to spices very well indeed and can have the complexity and depth of fruit to stand up to rich meat dishes as well.

So, my recommendation for today to pair with your dry Riesling is a spicy chicken dish from that bastion of British cooking, Delia Smith:

Delia's Spiced Chicken - an old recipe but one that works well and is easy and quick to make.

The wines we would recommend considering matching with this dish are:

Riesling Dry 2009, Villa Wolf -
Has a lovely full and rich style with pure stone-fruit flavours that are characteristic of the weathered sandstone soils of the Pfalz region.

or the Aussie offering;

Steven Spurrier's recommendation, Decanter Magazine June 2011
Low in alcohol, high in natural acidity & bone dry, it is fresh & bright with intense smells of lime skin, citrus blossom, green apple, ripe guava & cinnamon spice. On the palate, there is crisp lime sorbet, stone fruit including apricot & classic mandarin, developing into rich lemon meringue. Wonderful racy minerality. Long length.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Riesling Week

23rd to 30th July 2011

Riesling: It’s the perfect match with food, great on its own and there is a style to suit every occasion, Riesling is the grape variety to be sampling this summer.

From this Saturday the trade body Wines of Germany is running Riesling Week. Keep an eye out for what restaurants etc. are doing in your area.

We here at Cooden Cellars love Riesling. There is some fantastic stuff out there and we have a great choice for you and over the coming week we'll be blogging on the choices and what foods they match.

Now that summer is here I would like to suggest you to try some German wines, and this week, go for a Riesling.  They really are fantastic on a long, hot summers afternoon and into the evening. The range of styles means there's a Riesling for every occasion. Producers like Dr Loosen, Leitz and Donnhoff are creating some stonking stuff!

The other big plus of German Riesling is their lighter alcohol levels. In a world of higher and higher alcohol levels these wines are very refreshing with many only around 8-10% alcohol.

So to start off the weekend, and talking personally, my absolute favourite quaffer Riesling is Dragonstone Riesling from Leitz. An absolute joy of a wine and its light alcohol makes it the perfect choice for summer enjoyment.

Full of pineapple, green apple and lemon with a mineral acidity. It has soft medium-sweet notes that envelop the mouthwatering acidity. This is a perfect match with Salmon Salad as its fruity acidity and medium sweetness match the subtle flavours of the salmon and the bitter, pepperyness of the salad beautifully.

Take a cooked cold salmon fillet and break it into small chunks. Take some rocket and watercress and place in a bowl. Sprinkle a little olive oil and lemon juice over. Add a little chopped red onion and add the salmon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Very simple, but very tasty indeed.

If you want to push the boat out a little, then an alternative Riesling to choose with this dish, and one that has complexity and at only 7.5%, light alcohol, is the utterly fantastic Urziger Wurzgarten Spatelese from Dr Loosen.

Pour out a chilled glass of Riesling and sit in a comfy chair and enjoy the wonderful flavours that will hit your palate as you eat the salad and drink the wine.

And, yes, I have these ingredients in my fridge as I type and will be doing this very recipe this weekend! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!


I added to the recipe above. I chucked a chopped beetroot in and also some feta cheese. The creaminess of the cheese and the fresh flavours of the beetroot matched the salmon brilliantly and the medium Riesling was just a stonkingly glorious match. The acidity cut through the creamy cheese and complimented that and the other flavours in the dish.

Can't recommend medium Riesling highly enough for this: either Dragonstone from Leitz or the estate Riesling from Dr. Loosen are fantastic.

Blog written by: John Martin

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Picking Great Dandelions

Depending on whether you're a gardener or not may depend on your view of Dandelions! However, as you may have already guessed by the fact we are a wine merchants, we are not talking about the plant based version that plagues many a home gardeners lawn and borders.

No, we are talking about a fantastic Australian vineyard and winery called Dandelion Vineyards.

Big news:

We are very proud and extremely excited to tell you we have secured the wine makers of Dandelion Vineyards, Zar & Elena Brooks, to come and give a talk for us here in Sussex and you are invited!

They will be coming down on Friday 9th September. Put the date in your diary to ensure you don't miss what promises to be a fantastic evenings wine tasting.  We are still finalising exact details of venue etc. but will let you know as soon as we have more details. In the mean time, contact us if you're interested and we will add you to our list.

Above is a picture of Elena Brooks during a vintage cleaning out one of the fermenters.
Being the wine maker isn't all glamour!

We have stocked a range of their wines for a while now since discovering them and have been enthusing about them ever since, whether it be their complex Shiraz's, rich Cabernet Sauvignon or indeed their terribly beguiling 'Wonderland of the Eden Valley' Riesling 2010 of which everyone here loves and Steven Spurrier recently recommended in Decanter Magazine, June 2011 saying:

"This is a fantastic Riesling. Low in alcohol, high in natural acidity & bone dry, it is fresh & bright with intense smells of lime skin, citrus blossom, green apple, ripe guava & cinnamon spice. On the palate, there is crisp lime sorbet, stone fruit including apricot & classic mandarin, developing into rich lemon meringue. Wonderful racy minerality. Long length."

In recent months a lot of wine writers and critics too have been enthusing the virtues of this estates many varied and great wines.

Dandelion Vineyards is an adventurous and challenging fusion of vineyards and vignerons. Their wines represent decades of experience, blending the fruit of their heirloom vineyards with the finest traditions of artisan winemaking. Dandelion's combination of old vineyards and young winemakers makes for some truly fantastic, expressive wines.

Dandelion Vineyards have some very old vines that help to give their wines depth and complexity of flavour. This matched with the great soils and locations, and you have a winning combination.

In the two pictures above the top one is an old Shiraz vine and the other a Riesling vine.
The thickness of the stems shows their age, and the quality of the fruit 

coming off these vines and others like them is just excellent.
Indeed many of the Riesling vines are nearly 100 years old!

Blog written by: John Martin

Friday, 8 July 2011

Hunter Valley - There is Hope

In recent years there has been quite a resurgence for Hunter Valley wines from Australia and in particular Hunter Valley Shiraz.  Their naturally lower alcohols of between 12.5% and 13.5% mixed with their rich flavour profiles seems to be the main reasons for this.

Aussie Shiraz's wines have for a long time been known for big flavours and often big alcohol with some hitting as much as 17%!

One of the main proponents for the Hunter Valley and what it can offer the wine enthusiast is the very well respected Australian wine writer James Halliday. He has written a few pieces now on the Hunter Valley and recently wrote a blog on it as well.  In that blog he says "I have commented more than once on my renewed love affair with Hunter Valley Shiraz... The time of harvesting shiraz in the Hunter Valley is not always in the hands of the winemaker, vintage rainfall, hail, searing heat and sunburn, defoliation and a host of other challenges can mean there is no choice. But in the ‘07 and ‘09 vintages, weather conditions were as good as they are ever likely to be for shiraz, and quite beautiful wines were made in these years."

We have found a lovely Hunter Valley Shiraz from 2009, one of the years James picks out as particularly good and worthy of consideration.

This Shiraz comes from a place doing great things in wine; Hope Estate. Typical Hunter Valley style with a smooth, juicy palate with intense berry fruit. Rich mocha and spicy plums lead to an earthy finish. Soft, defined oak characters combined with silky tannins give the wine complexity and great length.

The oak fermentation and maturation have enhanced the peppery and spicy characters of the wine. Whilst the open ferments have increased the fruit intensity and warm colours of the Shiraz.

However, as James points out, "The uniting feature is alcohol levels with a weighted average around 13.5%. The wines have a purity and balance that will see them develop over 20 years (or much longer given screwcaps) gradually picking up that polished leather, sweet earth and forest litter backdrop of great Hunter Shiraz.

Many will be drunk long before they reach this stage, because they are so easy to enjoy in their youth."

This wine is great to enjoy now, but will also reward cellaring for several years as well to allow it to develop some exciting new characteristics and flavours.

You can buy this wine by clicking here.

Blog written by: John Martin