Pewsey Vale Riesling 2011 and Thai Green Curry

Every fortnight or so, time permitting, I challenge myself to make a new dish and find a wine to pair it with. This week was a Thai Green Curry paired with Pewsey Vale Riesling 2011 from the Eden Valley, South Australia. The Pewsey Vale vineyard is a stunning site – actually perched high above the Eden Valley floor in a craggy, windy and exposed location. Although blessed with abundant sunshine, the vines need to work very hard to produce fruit in the lean soil and against the wind. This results in fruit of exceptional quality and concentration, which comes through in the wine.

The Pewsey Vale Vineyard in Eden Valley. © James Flewellen

The Pewsey Vale Vineyard in Eden Valley. © James Flewellen

The wine was intensely aromatic, but with a more restrained fruit profile than what I’ve come to expect from many South Australian Rieslings. There was a fresh lime character, green apple and floral notes, and a hint of cream: overall blended into an intense profile of many subtle aromas. The wine showed a classic dry Riesling structure on the palate – bone dry with high acidity, medium alcohol (12.5% and very well integrated), no oak, a moderate-weight body and a long finish. In terms of flavours, the mid-palate comes across with great intensity, although it’s hard to describe exactly what you’re tasting. Yes, there are notes of lime and green apple riding along a creamy texture, but also enigmatic ‘minerally’ flavours – a bit like sucking on a stone, in the nicest possible way! The longer you leave the wine in your mouth, the more this complex mineral character is drawn out.

I like this wine because it’s not a typical Aussie ‘blockbuster’. It doesn’t immediately announce its flavour or aroma profile to you – it’s far more elusive than that. I had to work hard to eke out all the flavours here, although it certainly didn’t take me long to enjoy the wine!

And as for the food… I ended the curry with a squeeze of fresh lime juice (in part to make up for the absence of kaffir lime leaves: I’m still struggling to find where to buy these in Oxford!). This, I thought, complemented the lime/green apple fruit profile of the wine rather nicely. The body of the wine held its own against the spice and the acidity cut through the creamy coconut milk base of the dish.

Pewsey Vale Riesling 2011 with Thai Green Curry

Pewsey Vale Riesling 2011 with Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

Here’s my recipe for the Thai Green Curry (it’s a ‘demitarian’ version, with only a little bit of meat and lots of veges):
 
Curry paste
Lightly toast 1 teaspoon each of coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant. Crush with mortar and pestle (or flat of broad knife) then place in a blender with: 2 roughly chopped shallots, 4 roughly chopped cloves garlic, big chunk (at least as big as your thumb) of ginger (peeled and grated), 6 green chillies (mine weren’t especially hot, so adjust to taste), 1 stick of lemongrass with hard exterior removed, crushed lightly with a rolling pin then chopped finely, zest and juice of one lime, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, roughly ground black pepper and a big handful of coriander leaves and stalks. I added a few tablespoons peanut oil and then a little bit of coconut milk to provide a liquid base to aid the blending. Blend until smooth.
 

Curry

Add a splash of peanut (or other vege) oil to a large saucepan over a reasonably high heat. Add 3 large tablespoons of the curry paste, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and another stick of lemongrass that’s been lightly crushed and chopped. Stir for a minute or so.
Add one diced chicken breast, stir for a minute or so until chicken is cooked on the outside. Turn down the heat to medium and add any ‘hard’ vegetables you’re using. I added chopped button mushrooms, snow peas and baby corn to begin with. Then add 400ml of coconut milk, 200ml chicken stock (more if you have lots of vegetables) and a splash of fish sauce and allow to simmer for around 20 minutes. At some stage add any more vegetables depending on how long they take to cook through. For instance, I added sliced capsicum about 10 minutes after the liquid.
The curry should thicken slightly with simmering. Taste the curry and add more paste and fish sauce if you wish. Add the juice of another lime and stir through a handful of chopped coriander and basil leaves
 
Serve with jasmine rice and your favourite Riesling!
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About James

James Flewellen is a biophysicist at the University of Oxford. He has competed for the University in international blind tasting competitions and won several awards. In addition, James is a wine educator and wine writer, most recently co-authoring "The Concise Guide to Wine and Blind Tasting". He also writes for the international gastronome site "The Rambling Epicure", and can be contacted for wine consultancy and educational courses through the "Oxford Wine Academy".
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One Response to Pewsey Vale Riesling 2011 and Thai Green Curry

  1. Pingback: Regional Food and Wine Pairing in South Australia | The Oxford Wine Blog

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