Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Glass of Deliciousness: Brooks Sweet P 2008 Willamette Valley Riesling

I truly love a good Riesling.   My first introduction to the grape here in Oregon was through pioneer vintners Bill and Virginia Fuller, then owners of Tualatin Vineyards near Forest Grove. In the late 1980's, Bill and Virginia  hired my catering company to develop and serve  hors d'oeuvre menus in celebration of the release of each year's vintage- and along with delicious Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, the pair produced delightful Rieslings.

As much as I enjoyed them, I always believed that the terroir and climate here in the Willamette Valley would produce good Rieslings  but very different from the glorious Spatlese (late harvest) Rieslings produced from grapes grown on the steep south facing slopes of Germany's Mosel River.

Germany is about as far north as Vinifera wine grapes can grow. The cold winters insure dormancy, which the vine needs to thrive. The grapes can ripen here despite the cold climate and short season because of two factors: steep south facing slopes along the river (facing south means sun from early morning until late afternoon, and the steepness of the slopes right along  the river mean  that the vineyards benefit from additional sunlight bouncing off the water), and the dark slate soil which absorbs heat during the day and radiates it back at night.

Last evening I was introduced to Brooks Sweet P 2008 Willamette Valley Riesling; and had I tasted it blind, I would have identified it as German; not from the New World, and certainly not from Oregon.

The wine is gold, with must a hint of terpines on the nose (terpines are naturally occuring hydrocarbons that develop as Riesling takes on age), along with peach, nectarine, yellow delicious apple, white flower and honey . The nectarine and apple come through on the medium sweet palate as well. There is plenty of acidity to balance the residual sugar, and the wine coats the mouth to a long finish that transitions from stone fruit to a hint of tangerine. Soooooo good.

We tasted it with grilled bratwurst from Sheridan Fruit (they make fantastic sausages in house) on a bed of caramelized onion and served with mustard and my own zucchini relish. The relish is God's gift to sausages, and was the perfect foil for the flavors and residual sugar in the wine.

It's also the perfect solution to the baseball bat sized zucchini that hide under the leaves and are otherwise only fit for zucchini bread. Here is the recipe- try it and I guarantee you will never want to eat store-bought relish again.

Zucchini Relish

4 pounds zucchinni
2 pounds yellow onion
5 tablespoons kosher salt
2 1/4 cups cider vinegar
6 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon tumeric
2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons cerery seed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Grind the zucchini and the onions, add the salt, and let stand overnight in a colander
Rinse in cold water, and let drain thoroughly.
Place in a stock pot with the remaining ingredients and cook for 40 minutes.The relish should thicken and  the liquid should appear glossy.
Pour into sterilized jars with 1/2" headspace and seal.
Process 10 min in a boiling water bath.

Makes 13 pints

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