This month Wines of Germany – the country’s national wine marketing board – are celebrating 31 Days of Riesling. Nick Mosley talks to Paul Morgan and Sam Pryor of Fourth and Church in Hove about this most noble of Germanic grape varieties.
The 70s and 80s did very little for the advancement of Riesling in the UK. A certain brand in a blue bottle – I still can’t bear to mention the name – cornered the market, the reputation stuck and the rest, as they say, is history. However, its time that history was re-written and we should revisit our perceptions of this versatile grape that can do well in a wide range of soils and climates.
What some dismiss as a sweet or semi-sweet wine is actually confusion with the fruity punch and fragrant nose and palate that is a go-to for many wine-lovers. Without doubt, German winemakers have also advanced their growing and production skills, including by extending the ripening period later into the year that turns the familiar young apple sweetness into a much more rounded and sophisticated stone fruit taste. This in turn has widened the appeal of Riesling to a global wine drinking audience.
“We love taking part in the 31 Days of Riesling promotion as it gives us the opportunity to open some fantastic bottles and show you just how versatile the grape is”, said Paul Morgan, co-owner of Fourth and Church on Church Road in Hove. “For the price, Riesling also offers excellent value for money”.
“It’s really refreshing and in most cases light in alcohol, expressing a sense of place and terroir. It comes in all styles, dry, off-dry, sweet and sparkling. It has an amazing ability to age and develop in barrel or bottle, especially when there is a bit of sweetness. What’s not to like?”.
As owners of Fourth and Church – one of Brighton and Hove’s leading independent wine retailers and restaurants – Paul and partner Sam Pryor should know. They are both passionate about the grape and sharing its many expressions with their customers and diners.
“It’s fantastically food friendly”, said Sam who heads up the kitchen serving up small plates of creative dishes inspired by ingredients and flavours the duo have enjoyed in their travels around Europe and further afield.
“Recently we’ve paired the Kabinett style off-dry Riesling with a dish of barbecue chicken yakitori with Gochujang glaze, bok choy leaf and spicy Kimchi mayonnaise”, continued Sam. “Earlier this year we offered a Trocken dry Riesling alongside smoked herring and they were a match made in heaven”.
Until the end of July, Paul and Sam are inviting you to step outside of your wine drinking comfort zone and explore some of the Rieslings they have on offer. On Sunday 24 July, they are hosting an afternoon Sunday Session that will focus on the many different styles of Riesling from some of Germany’s top producers. Call 01273 724709 for more information or pop by the store and restaurant at 84 Church Road, Hove BN3 2EB.