Lets celebrate riesling.
A dinner matching a diverse set of rieslings to delicious plates of food – yes please! At Bishop Sessa – even better!
I adore riesling, the young fruity acidic ones, the flinty ones, the dry ones, the off-dry ones and the 10-20 year old ones. Its hard to find a grape as diverse and as celler’able as riesling. Tonight I’m going to be seeing how at least eight different rieslings stack up, both with and without food, hard to think of a better way to spend my evening.
It’s a warm welcome with a glass of Taittinger, fun communal tables, and the cosy upstairs of Bishop Sessa. Not to mention the crunchy little tasting snacks as we meet the rest of the table.
Start me up with a scallop
And we are straight into our first matching. Scallop tartare, cucumber with orange and chamomile tea granita is a refreshing start. Our glasses are filled with two little Clare valley beauties, the O’Leary Walker Watervale riesling 2016 and the Grosset Spingvale riesling 2015. I have both in my cellar so definitely a fan. The O’Leary is acidic and fruity and very alive in the mouth, while the Grosset is more demure and balanced. I love both but history says I will always prefer the Grosset. Then the food arrived and the Grosset livened up while the O’Leary balanced out more with the food – interesting.
The surprising ageing cycle of Riesling
It’s not surprising to find plenty of seafood matched with the riesling. The sesame seared yellow fin tuna, crab mayonnaise, avo and corn relish is a creamier dish compared to the citrus of the first one. Our tipples now are Clonakilla Riesling 2016 from Canberra and the Zeppelin Cellar aged riesling 2009 from Eden Valley. The Zeppelin is unfortunately at that dead point of the riesling ageing curve, between it’s youth and its long term potential. The strong petroleum undertones mean it’s no-one favourite, the Clonakilla wins hands down for now. But within a couple more years that Zeppelin could be well into it’s aged mellow best, with no petrol associations left.
Craving sea urchin?
The kitchen ups the richness a notch further, delivering a sea urchin omelette with shiitake, salami puree and mussel emulsion. The imported Ravenna 2016 from Columbia Valley, Washington State is the knock-out off-dry that we all prefer with this dish. The Howard Park 2012 Great Southern, lovely on it’s own, is too austere with the deliciously rich dish at this stage. It’s a truism that while I instinctively prefer dry rieslings to drink, often the best matches with food are off-dry.
Yellow belly in my belly
Rounding out the seafood is a grilled Yellow Belly flounder with Moreton Bay bug sausage, fennel, lemon and house made bottarga, more strong flavours. It’s interesting to find the french Domaines Schlumberger Saering Grand Cru 2010 tastes like a German riesling. And the german Dreissigacker organic riesling trocken seems very Austrian in style. Maybe not so surprising when I look at how near the borders they are, borders that have moved before!.
Sweet enough or not?
And the piece de resistance is frozen peach & honey cake with cultured ice cream and honeycomb. There is a surprise wine served with this, not off the menu, highly aged but not sweet. Sadly in the mix of our noisy chatting and excessive embibing, I managed to not find out what wine it is. Perhaps that is lucky, as it is the one match of the night that doesn’t work for me at all, the wine tastes harsh against the sweetness of the dessert. Of well, can’t win them all.
So what is your experience of riesling – ultimate white wine or cheap plonk in a box?
Where Am I? Bishop Sessa, 527 Crown St, Surry Hills, 2010, NSW, Australia bishopsessea.com.au
Best Bits: oh how can I possibly choose, everything except the final wine worked just fine for me
Worst Bits: last wine, didn’t like it before or with wine – but I don’t know what it was!