Thursday, November 12, 2009

#1 - Wine Can Chicken & '99 Prager

Food: Wine Can Chicken

Quickly making its way into our rotation, Wine Can Chicken is simple. Take a soda can (I think I've made the transition from 'pop' to 'soda.' Got sick of the looks.) and fill it 2/3 of the way with a decent, cheap white wine and fill the rest with whatever herbs you want/have within reach.

Mrs. Ney used herbs de Provence, more rosemary, lemongrass and orange blossom water if I recall correctly.

Stick the can up the chicken's rear, prop it upright so it looks like it might come alive and stick it in the oven.

The glaze for the chicken was Asian-ish since Riesling pairs so well with such things, comprised of a soy sauce, hoisin, ginger beer reduction with salt.

All of it was served on mâche with baguette and butter.

Wine: 1999 Prager Riesling Weissenkirchen Smaragd Steinreigl - $16 Wine Discount Center

Why so cheap for a '99 Austrian Riesling from a good house? Probably because most of the reviews for the bottle consider it to be past its drinking window.

Robert Parker of Wine Advocate:

The 1999 Riesling Smaragd Weißenkirchen Steinriegl has a mineral-dominated nose. This medium-bodied, silky-textured and tangy wine is redolent with lemony minerals,quinine, and flowers. This admirably balanced wine should be consumed the next 7-9 years.
Other places on these internets had it for upwards of $45 so we figured why not? We've had this 2005 before and loved it.

Here's what the terms on the bottle mean purely for the purpose of forcing me to learn this stuff:

Wachau: Highly-respected Austrian region known for its Rieslings and Grüners

Smaragd: Wachau-specific designation. Has to do with when the grapes can be picked, when the wine can be released and has the highest alcohol level (> 12.5%), low sugar level, typically the richest and driest (compared to Federspiel with an alcohol level between 11.5 & 12.5% and Steinfeder below that). Order = Steinfeder (light, racy), Federspiel (elegant, medium-bodied) and Smaragd (ripe, full-bodied)

Steinriegl: Particular vineyard/area

Weissenkirchen: City near Steinriegl

By golly, that seems excessively complicated. Here's a pretty good primer.

Pairing: It worked quite well

I don't have oodles of experience with being able to immediately recognize with complete authority whether a wine is past its prime, but the fruit was drying out, almost completely there.

But there was still a liveliness to this wine, especially when the salt came to the party, bringing out it's acidity. What I saw as hints of smoke and nuts, Mrs. Ney saw as a butterscotchy element (she has an infinitely better palate than me). Dried peaches and a little spice with a tiny floral note (?) as well.

Oddly, it paired best with the baguette and butter, making me think if it would be best drank as a pre-dinner aperitif kinda thingy with a lil snack.

In the end, though, the wine didn't conflict at all, stood up to everything and brought an pleasing element to the table. Reminded me of the Robert Lopez de Heredia whites not in its flavor profile but in what brings to a pairing - a dried element that is expressed first in its fruit and secondary flavors and it's style second. Wasn't bone-dry, rather something approaching off-dry (?) and everything was still rather focused. Deep yellow in the glass that resembled urine.

We just bought four more bottles to watch this one die a nice death.

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