We had some scrumptious wines at Marché recently. If you are someone who sticks safely to Oregon Pinot Gris or finds comfort in the red side of the wine rainbow, I understand; I really do. But over the years, I’ve started hungering for more, and the odd poetry of some of the more interesting whites has grabbed me and won’t let go. This is scary, of course, because a wine habit attaches to one’s pocketbook, and my purse always seems to have a hole at the bottom.*
Ewald Moseler, for those of you who don’t know, is a godsend. He’s a distributor who has been importing German and Austrian wines and educating Americans from his base in Portland for almost thirty years. Ryan managed to coax him to come down to Eugene for one of Chef Crystal Platt’s wonderful special tasting dinners. This was an unusual move, as wine dinners usually feature a label or a type of wine. But well worth it.
To welcome in spring, try a dry Riesling. I can’t emphasize this enough. The color is perfect for the season, a little neon-greenish, almost highlighter yellow. The characteristic smell of fresh little flowers and honey and pear — wrapped in PVC — will shake you out of your complacency. If the fetish appeal doesn’t grab you, then think of it this way: this wine is a sweet and obliging servant, kind of like a French maid. In PVC. Oops, I’m back in the fetish stuff again, sorry. So let’s just put it like this: Riesling usually features a strong acid component that balances out the gentle sweetness, acting almost like a cleaning crew for sugars in the wine to enliven your palate. Which is perfect for spring, no?
We tried three beautiful Rieslings at the tasting dinner:
(1) a bubbly one (!) called Wingut Diehl Riesling Sekt Extra Trocken Roschbacker Rosenkränzel from Pfalz (2009) with pork rillettes and roasted bone marrow toasts drizzled with rose hip jam (above);
(2) a dry (Trocken) Selbach “Blauschiefer” from Mosel (2011) with a perfectly browned sea bass chunk over bold green miner’s lettuce and little asparagus with a grassy swath of nettle purée (below — the picture doesn’t do it justice, sorry); and
(3) A deep, intense dessert Riesling: Christoffel Jr. Riesling Ausles “Ürziger Würzgarten” from Mosel-Saar-Wuwer (1999), a wine that could have been only better with a longer finish so I could have it in my mouth for but a few more moments. It was served with an apple crostata accompanied by a brilliantly paired unsugared buttermilk mousse.
O how I wish Crystal were able to integrate more experimental dishes into the rather conservative Marché menu, since her food is fabulous and the way she integrates seasonal ingredients, often foraged or PNW-oriented, could renew and envigorate many of the French bistro classics. I think she’d soon gain a following of her own, not to mention we need to support talented, innovative women in the high-end restaurant biz.
And the pairings were so good. The entrée of braised then fried boar over red cabbage and what seemed like a lardo and mustardseed mayonnaise special sauce to me, paired with another Wingut Diehl wine, this time a Gewürztraminer Kabinett from Pfalz (2011) might have just transformed me into a Gewürz drinker. It certainly did nothing to quell my yearning for Central European food.
The only almost miss of the evening was the dish served with the only red, the only Pinot Noir (!) of the evening, an example of how climate change is allowing wine growers to put in grapes farther north than ever. Morel mushrooms mired in a potatoey swamp of purée, with wild vegetation and flowers growing up around it gave off an Oregon rainy winter vibe, but it didn’t seem to be grounded in anything. Still, it was an interesting pairing with a Mayschosser Spätburgunder Trocken (2011) that was unlike either our Oregon beloveds or the California pinots we spurn. Pinot aficionados might want to take note that Spätburgunder is the German name for Pinot Noir, and it is always Trocken. The Ahr is the region in which you’ll find it now grown.
So all of this brings me to an unsatisfied conclusion. Where can I get more of these delicious German wines? Well, Ryan told me he’s bringing some in to Provisions, or you could visit one of the places Ewald services up in Portland by joining his email list. Either way, they’re a must try.
Thanks, Ewald and Ryan, for making this happen! Hope we can do it again soon.
*Note: I wasn’t paid a red cent for covering this dinner. It was absolutely, totally, completely all my pleasure and I had to go home with a few extra bottles, too. Growing hole in pocketbook. Q.E.D.