A Tale of Two Okanagan Rieslings
Rieslings – Do you love them, avoid them or find yourself sitting on the fence?
Riesling is such a diverse grape variety than can be bone dry, extremely sweet (think ice wine) and anywhere in between. The same goes for aromas and flavours!
In our last wine pack, Wild Goose Winery offered their Stoney Slope Riesling, which is an absolutely historic BC planting of the grape in Okanagan Falls. And, as it turns out, the packs we shipped out to you contained either the 2018 or 2019 vintage of the wine.
This is a great time to chat about how Riesling can be so different, even from the same vineyard and winery. What affects their aromas and flavours and why do we love different expressions of the grape? BC Riesling is known for having soft, tropical fruit aromas when it is young and then developing that classic petrol note and intense apricot aromas as it ages. Rieslings from Kelowna and Lake Country tend to have higher acidity and often citrus zest on the nose. The further South you go in the valley, more papaya and guava.
First off, at Wild Goose Winery, the cellar team prides themselves on consistency in their wine making. This means that year after year, you can expect their wines to show off similar flavour profiles and structure. No wild swings from light bodied to full bodied, dry to sweet.
That said, the two vintages of Stoney Slope Riesling from Wild Goose Winery are different beasts. Both show the typical central Okanagan character mentioned above – like guava, passion fruit. Both wines have a delightful minerality, echoing the rocks in the vineyard and tying them together as being unique to Wild Goose.
The Rieslings take different paths as they develop. The older, 2018 vintage is showing a developed character that is so fun. Notes of petrol and mingling of acidity and flavour. The younger 2019 is not surprisingly, quite primary, holding on to the tropical fruit aromatics.
Vintage-wise, 2018 saw a cool and long fall that allowed a really long ripening season. 2019 had a cool fall too, but it was wetter and came with some freak, early frosts! This can affect the tropical notes on the nose and how quick the developed characteristics come out in the wine. Also, if early picking happens due to the threat of frost, you may find higher acid levels and not as much sweetness. Balance is key and that’s why harvest date is so important (and also stressful) for winemakers.
We won’t tell you what you’re supposed to find in the wines, and would love for you to send us your tasting notes regardless of what vintage you received!
PAIRING THE STONEY SLOPE RIESLING WITH BBQ
Wild Goose Winery is big into BBQ and has a hardwood smoker on site. On man, does BBQ go well with high acid, aromatic white wine! The high acid and intense flavours cut through fatty meats and compliment the smokey, chili flavours. Can anything else measure up to the task?
We paired both Stoney Slope Rieslings with something similar yet worlds apart – Asian BBQ Skewers – like you would get at a local night market. And WOW.
First, the flavours of the spice mix that blanketed the lamb and chicken skewers was intense – cumin, five spice – star anise – pepper – chilies. We also used an amazing crunchy chili and oil condiment that was less hot than fragrant. You might wonder how any wine would stand up to these flavours.
The Stoney Slope Rieslings both were up to the task. Not only were they able to compliment the spicy dish with ripping acidity and well balanced residual sugar, but they held their own for flavour, standing with the food and not playing second fiddle. Their natural acidity was so refreshing that the intense fragrance of the meat and spice mix were both augmented and then cleansed by the wine.
What’s your dish of choice with Riesling, young and old, savoury or sweet? Our menu is below –
NIGHT MARKET SKEWERS –
1lb boneless chicken thighs, cut into thick strips
1lb lamb sirloin chumps, cut into thick strips
Spice rub of choice – we used a rub called “Advanced Composite Seasoning” that had a lot of chilis, star anise, clove. Any BBQ spice rub will work well.
Blanket the strips of meat with a touch of salt and then lots of spice rub. Weave the strips onto skewers and put on the BBQ at high heat until cooked through.
INSTANT POT RICE:
Use equal parts short grain rice and water in the instant pot. Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes and then leave for an additional 16 minutes before taking off the lid. Season and serve.
CHINESE STYLE SAUTEED EGGPLANT
2 long eggplants, cut into thick slices
3 tbsp Miso or yellow bean paste
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
10 mint leaves, finely chopped
10 basil leaves, finely chopped
5 pickled chilis, roughly chopped
2 shallots finely chopped
2 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp palm sugar
Crispy fried onions for garnish
This is a high heat, fast cooking dish, so get all the ingredients ready and have them placed beside the wok before starting.
Turn your stove element to high or your gas burner as high as it can go. Add approx ¼ cup neutral oil to the pan. Once it’s hot but not smoking, add in the soy sauce, miso paste, shallots, palm sugar and ginger. Stir this together for 30 seconds before adding the eggplant. Stir or toss the eggplant so it absorbs all the aromatic ingredients. Cook for 2-4 minutes, just enough for the eggplants to crisp up on the outside and become tender in the middle.
Place everything in a serving bowl and garnish with mint, basil and crispy fried onions.