FOOD & WINE
AT LAST WE HAVE A SUITABLE WHITE FOR ASIAN-FUSION DISHES
The rise of Asian fusion-style restaurants and our penchant for dishes with a hint of spice have seemingly caught Australian winemakers a little by surprise. Is it just me or is there a dearth of wine lists with a wide selection of whites that have a hint of aromatic sweetness about them?
In fairness, the Australian climate makes it more difficult for vignerons to successfully produce many of the styles that benefit from a cool or even cold climate. But the impression remains that our local industry players haven’t yet been able to make wines designed to capitalise on the expanding opportunity to pair with East Asian dishes.
Personally, I love the flavour and zing of the Eastern fusion-style of menu – think chilli, sesame seeds, dried onion, ginger and soy. Yum. But pouring a chardonnay, semillon, sauvignon blanc or even pinot gris just doesn’t seem to fit the bill.
Granted, Australian producers do make
some lovely semi-sweet riesling and moscato, but there’s nothing quite as delicious as sipping a well-crafted gewurztraminer as you chow down on a plate of spicy Sichuan quail.
Gewurztraminer wine was one that I first courted while travelling through Alsace, in eastern France, some years ago.
It’s a pinky coloured grape on the outside but blessed with sweet white flesh on the inside. On the nose, it’s typically pungent with tropical fruit and lychee, though generally more floral once on the palate.
With a high level of sugar, it’s a pretty style of wine, and when made with a dry crisp finish, it’s sublime.
In Australia, there are some nice traminers (as we tend to call them) and gewurztraminer made in cooler regions such as the Adelaide Hills, Tasmania and Victoria’s Macedon Ranges, but they tend not to be quite as spicy and perfumed as those from Alsace or the Tyrolean Alps in Austria.
I recently encountered a blend from NSW’S Mudgee district that cleverly combined gewurz with traditional varietals to add perfume and spice to the palate and tropical fruit to the nose. The Robert Stein Semillon Riesling Gewurztraminer 2017 has lovely passionfruit and guava aromatics on the nose, but delicious lime, citrus and Granny Smith apple through the middle.
There’s a hint of rose petal and lychee through the finish as the gewurztraminer does its work in adding a slightly sweet, though nicely rounded conclusion. The austerity of semillon, the fruit orchards of riesling and the aromatics of gewurz – and the result is an attractive wine with everything you could ask for in a partner for Asian fusion cuisine. Best of all, at about only $18 a bottle, the value proposition is irresistible.