Pichler FX Riesling Loibner Steinertal Wachau Austria 2001. 12.5% alcohol. Wine Ventures, $45.00. Imported by Vin Divino Ltd., Chicago Illinois. Vin Divino.
Clear white color, clear hue, excellent fruit aroma with hints of spice and minerals; very good fruit tastes with lovely mineral notes, hints of spice, bright acidity, very dry, light mouth feel, quite a long and interesting finish. Lovely wine. 4*.
This wine certainly has the stuffings to last a long time, and I'd love to cellar it, but this bottle had two higher callings: 3/4 went into a balsamic reduction and 1/4 into the cook to encourage him as he made a birthday dinner. It fulfilled both duties brilliantly.
Notes: We use a great deal of balsamic vinegar in our house, most of it aged, but our real favorite, the following balsamic reduction. I know I can be accused of extravegance for using such an expensive Riesling, especially since I use the basic Kirkland balsamic from Costco -- 12 bucks for a liter. Nonetheless, better Riesling definitely improves the reduction. And, I'm sure the cook achieves culinary brilliance with the help of the wine.
This "recipe" comes from John Ash; I found it first on a newspaper website, then bought his cookbook and rewrote the recipe from Ash's book. We like this sauce so much that I usually have a bottle in the fridge -- we warm up a little creamer full for dinner. We eat an enormous amount of vegetables, either steamed or roasted. This sauce works well with any steamed vegetable (except broccoli) and with many roasted vegetables.
Ash suggests boiling a mid-grade commercial grade balsamic vinegar down to 40% of its original volume. "As it cools, it will thicken into a syrup that can be drizzled over all manner of things. Its advantage over straight-out-of-bottle balsamic is that it "stays put". It can be stored at room temperature almost indefinitely."
[To be clear, there are two basic types of balsamic vinegar. The first is Artisan-Made, aged for 12 or 25 years, or even a 100 years, and is more a liqueur and sauce than a vinegar. A few drops at a time for this pricey, delicious stuff. Excellent Commercial balsamic is a blend of young artisan-made balsamic or boiled grape must and good wine vinegar. I've tried Malpighi, Cavalli, Mamma Balducci, Giusti, La Casa del Balsamico and Manicardi, but settled on Kirklands. There's a third type, Noe by Carandini, carried by Balducci in New York which is thicker than commercial, and approaches good 12 year old balsamic.]
The basic recipe for Ash's balsamic reduction can be as simple as just the commercial balsamic, or more complex as in our favorite:
1/2 cup very good commercial balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup crisp, light bodied white wine
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
Pepper to taste
Simmer for an hour or longer until its the consistency of Grade C maple syrup. It works well in this form as accompanying steamed vegetables adding less than 20 calories a serving and no fat.
Even better is to continue simmering until it becomes as thick as honey, a balsamic glaze. As Ash writes in his book:
“This one is going to knock your socks off. Once you make the glaze -- it can be made weeks ahead and it is fool proof -- you can eat it on everything: salmon, grilled portabellas, tofu, pork tenderloin -- you can't miss.
Conclusion: Lovely balsamic reduction, lovely wine.