Somewhere between Lodi and Alsace
Can Lodi be at Home in Alsace?
I visited Alsace last fall, and one of my favorite things was to experience Choucroute Garni in its natural home. As you drive and hike around the region, you see vineyards of course, but you also see enormous fields full of cabbage, the source of all that sauerkraut.
Choucroute Garni – an Alsace Classic
Choucroute garni is a classic dish from Alsace, featuring a base of sauerkraut and potatoes, with your chosen number of pork treatments piled on. 4, 5 or 6 (or more!) ways: bacon, pork belly, knuckle, and multiple types of sausages. This is not a light meal.
Back home after our trip, I was thinking about the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi last August. I met Markus Niggli of Markus Wine Co at a vineyard tour and tasting at the conference. I was impressed tasting his wines, noting how they seemed to combine an old world spirit with a rowdy Lodi attitude. I ordered several and I had been looking for an opportunity to open one. Remembering the tasting in Lodi, it seemed one of his whites might go well with choucroute garni.
Markus Wine Company
Markus writes a very good summary of what he is about on his website:
“Markus has free reign to craft small production bottlings in a very contemporary, fresh, early-harvest style that showcases the vineyards themselves and is especially suited to a range of foods. This lower-alcohol, leaner avant-garde style relies on optimal winegrowing and earlier harvesting to yield the ideal pure fruit/acid balance that will appeal greatly to those yearning for a certain energy and excitement in their wines.
For what’s on the bottles, Markus explains, “People, like wine, are shaped by unique places, which is why each label brings together a location from Markus’s past with the current grape source. Creative expressions of the locations are realized through a long-term collaboration with label designer Michael Leonard at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.”
Markus Wine Company “Nimmo” 2014 ($22 from the winery)
Nimmo is a blend of several grapes, all originally from cooler northern regions of Germany, Austria and Italy. It is 71% kerner, 13 gewurz, 11 riesling, and 5 bacchus. As all of his wines, Markus uses native yeast for fermentation, and this wine does not go through Malolactic fermentation to preserve freshness. A bit of a surprise (to me) it is vinified and aged in 60% new oak.
Eye: Clear, pale lemon yellow
Nose: Clean, lemons, vanilla and nuts (oak influence). A touch of bitter almond, but in the background
Mouth: Bone dry with medium body, medium+ acidity. The roundness from the oak softens the tart acidity. Nice long finish.
Markus Wine Company “Nimmo” Paired with Choucroute Garni
Funny, I didn’t love this wine by itself initially as I thought the oak was a bit obvious. However, my impression changed at the dinner table. It was very nice with choucroute garni, having enough body to stand up to the rich pork and plenty of acidity to cleanse and refresh the palette. I liked the wine even more on day 2, so I think it would only improve with some additional aging. Well done!
Six ways refers to the number of different pork types you can fit in the dish. This recipe comes from “Secrets of Alsace”, a little free recipe booklet I picked up at the tourist office in Ribeauville, a lovely little Alsace town. Note on the meats: you’ll need to improvise in the states, we don’t get the variety of pork cuts and sausages available in France. Note – this is 6 generous servings, there’s a lot of pork in this dish! Ingredients Instructions
Authentic Choucroute Garni Six Ways
Six ways refers to the number of different pork types you can fit in the dish. This recipe comes from “Secrets of Alsace”, a little free recipe booklet I picked up at the tourist office in Ribeauville, a lovely little Alsace town. Note on the meats: you’ll need to improvise in the states, we don’t get the variety of pork cuts and sausages available in France. Note – this is 6 generous servings, there’s a lot of pork in this dish!