J J Prüm • Riesling • Wehlener Sonnenuhr • Kabinett • 2014
This week's wine was what I have always considered a "Perfect Pairing." Having recently gone out and bought a replacement wok (my last one was so bad I couldn't stand to think that food was actually made in it), I decided to whip up a little Pork Tenderloin Stir Fry for the evening. Now that usually wouldn't conger up the necessity for a sweet wine, UNLESS, you make sure to throw in some red pepper flakes and some very hot dried red peppers, specifically Thai Bird Eye Chilies. Throw in some veggies and add rice, and voila, burn your mouth food. As I said, a perfect pairing for hot spicy food is something with a little sweetness to it. Riesling fits that bill nicely.
Riesling is a strange duck in the wine world as far as I'm concerned. On one hand you have those that love sweet wine, more like the white zinfandel or moscato types, and the others that pretty much turn up their noses at anything sweet. Having been in the business now for a while, the interesting thing that I come across is that there are a number of very wine geeky people who will tell you that one of their favorite wines is, in fact, Riesling. Whether the slightly sweet German ones or even the off dry versions from the Alsace region of France. What makes these wines so sought after in the right wine circles? Dare I say Terrior. See my post on Terroir for more.
For the moment I'm going to focus on the German wines as I know that sometime in the near future I'll be talking about Alsatian wines.
My favorite German Rieslings usually come from the Mosel region in Germany. The reason? Most of the region is covered in a very rocky soil comprised predominately of slate. That's important, to me anyway, as the wines take on a certain minerality that are combined with the slightly sweet background and a higher acidity level to give the wines their expressive flavors. This isn't just a sweet wine. Lovers of better Rieslings, know the quality and expressiveness the wines give up in ones glass.
J J Prum winery has been in business since around the 1800's. Their acreage consists of 4 distinct vineyards. The Wehlener Sonnenuhr is one of those four. For the purposes of this tasting and Wine of the Week, I selected the least expensive of the four. Mainly due to the fact that while the others are considered slightly higher in quality, this version was what I considered to be the best value. It also a great one to start with to see if you might like to expand your wine horizons with Riesling.
When you open the bottle and pour, you will see a light, almost clear, wine. Should you ever have the opportunity to sample much older vintages (yes, Rieslings age nicely) the color turns to a much deeper amber color. The aroma of white fruit along with that minerality hits you. Tasting the wine you get a bright acidity, fruitiness and sweetness offset by that same minerality. To me the flavor just lingers on your tongue. That was important when I took a bite of one of those Thai Bird Eye Chilies. I think I probably needed about a cup of sugar and a glass of milk to douse the heat, but the wine manged to do a pretty good job.
So after picking the rest of the Thai Bird Chilies out of the dish, I finished dinner along with the better part of the wine. As I said, sweet and spicy, a perfect combination. Give it a try sometime.
The wine should be available in select wine shops. They will be transitioning to the 2015 vintage very soon and in some places they may have already done so. I haven't reviewed the 2015, but that vintage was considered one of the best in the region. Ideal actually. So if the 2015's are out there, it should be another standout wine.