Somewhere between Lodi and Alsace

 

Alsace view from the Vosges mountains above Ribeauville

You can hike in the Vosges mountains, look down on the vineyards and farther in the distance, fields of cabbage

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

Choucroute Garni – sauerkraut, potatoes and a whole lot of pork

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.

Markus Niggli of Markus Wine Company

Markus brings his Swiss background and taste to his grapes in Lodi

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 "Nimmo"

Markus Wine Company “Nimmo”

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.”

Kerner grapes growing in the Mokelumne Glen Vineyard in Lodi California

Kerner grapes, more often from northern Italy, thrive in Lodi. These grapes form the backbone of the Nimmo blend.

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 Nimmow with choucroute garni

Lodi and Alsace? Yep. Works great.

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!

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!

Ingredients

  • 3 + lbs of choucroute (sauerkraut), well rinsed and excess water squeezed out
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp of butter (recipe reads 1 knob of butter!)
  • 12 oz. bacon
  • 12 oz. pork belly
  • 1 smoked pork knuckle
  • 12 oz each of 3 different types of sausages
  • 1.5 lbs small red potatoes
  • 1 clove whole garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 18 juniper berries
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 grains of coriander
  • 1/2 bottle of Alsace Riesling
  • 8 oz. chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a pot or dutch oven large enough to hold all the ingredients over medium-low heat
  • Cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes
  • Add the choucroute, garlic, bay leaf, cloves, juniper berries and coriander
  • Add the bacon, pork belly, pork knuckle
  • Add the wine and stock
  • Cover, bring to a boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer
  • Cook for 90 minutes
  • Add the potatoes
  • Brown any uncooked sausages in a skillet over medium heat, drain and add to the pot
  • Add any precooked sausages to the pot
  • Continue to cook until the potatoes are done and all the sausages are heated through, about 30 more minutes.
  • Serve!

Markus Wine Company "Nimmo" paired with choucroute garni

 

 

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Comments
5 Responses to “Somewhere between Lodi and Alsace”
  1. I love seeing Markus get the credit he deserves. His wines are outstanding. I featured his Borra Heritage in my #WinePW article this weekend as well. Cheers to Markus!

  2. I just learned about these wines in Michelle’s most recent post; now I can’t wait to sample them for myself. P.S. The Choucroute looks delicious!

  3. Love me some choucroute (I studied in Alsace) and some Markus (man crush).

  4. lgowdy says:

    Choucroute! I love saying that word loud (and eating it too 😉 When I read the Nimmo was oaked I had the same reaction as you. But bet it’s smoking good with the dish.

  5. Nancy says:

    Will you be cooking like this in PC!?! Num!

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