It was 2005 when I first visited Austria's Kremstal and Kamptal wine regions. With some help and advice from longtime Austrian wine importer Terry Theise, whom I first met at Jamey's in Philadelphia back in 1989 or 90, I visited a series of the Kamptal region's top producers, including Nigl, Brundlmayer, Heidler and Gobelsburg and dined like a king at Gasthof Jell and Landhaus Bacher.
On Theise's recommendation, I went to Nigl on that trip, and a few others since, each time more wowed by the pristine style of wines they produce, and the ethereal, almost out of this world quality they turn out year after year. Over the years, on other trips, I have had the good fortune to not only taste many of Nigl's wines, but to go through both the joy of a full "new release" line up, and sometimes even taste library wines from this famed estate, as well as dine full on in their restaurant, where the tasting and pairing of their wines may be the best of the best anywhere.
Last night a neighbor whipped up some Kung Pao Chicken, complete with red peppercorns and Chinese five spice. That screamed for a racy, crisp white, that had the sweet type of fruitiness that one needs when dining on Asian fare. And the 2017 Nigl Riesling ‘Dornleiten’ certainly didn't come up short.
While most times I would opt for a Nigl Riesling Senftenberger Piri or Riesling “Privat” Ried Hochäcker Erste Lage, the ‘Dornleiten,’ which Theise describes as a miniture Riesling, largely due to its' youthful charm and early maturity, sure fit the bill.
The ‘Dornleiten’ though is anything but tiny, light or diminutive. What it has is that total fruit in the body style thing going on that is found only in Austrian Riesling, without that "sweetness" that so many Rieslings from Germany have. And it's that dry, crisp, racy, high-acid style that makes Austrian Riesling so perfect with spicy Asian cooking.
Often I'll pull another Theise import, the Brundlmayer Riesling Kamptaler Terassen when the whiff of Asian spices comes along, as that's the usually best example of a Kampal white that punches well above its weight. And it's why when that wine is not in reach, I'll look to Nigl for something that can rival it.
The 2017 Nigl Riesling ‘Dornleiten’ is that wine.
Total cool body, crispy, mineral laden wet stone appeal with bright green apple and lime flavors. It's a real spice cutter, as one sip of the Nigl knocks the spice out of your mouth and gives you harmonious food and wine joy right on the spot.
Nigl's Dornleiten is a gem and for the money, a far better pairing for hot and spicy than any Chardonnay or even most Sauvignon Blanc so think about it the next time you go for Thai, Chinese, Korean or even Indian food. It's a cool wine, that goes great with just about anything hot and spicy.