FOOD & WINE

AT LAST WE HAVE A SUIT­ABLE WHITE FOR ASIAN-FU­SION DISHES

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME - WORDS: TRAVIS SCHULTZ To read more Travis Schultz wine re­views, go to traviss­chultz.com.au

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.

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