2007er Muller-Catoir Breumel in den Mauern Riesling Grosses Gewächs: AKA, Irreparable Riesling Done Right

Wine isn’t always perfect. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s the risk you take when you buy it. In my defense, I rarely take risks on wines I’m not as familiar with, but this one seemed too good to be true. A 2007er Muller-Catoir Grosses Gewächs, the German equivalent of a Grand Cru, from one of the best ‘Clos’ vineyards in the Haartder-Bürgergarten estate, the likes of which had nothing short of rave reviews detailing unusually organic flavors– earthy, dirt-like scents were a persistent theme in all the reviews I read, a factor that intrigued me quite a lot. With a $29.99 price tag marked down from a cool $90, we were almost inclined to take home a few more to sit on.
Alas, it was not meant to be. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t feel comfortable paying $15 for this again, much less forking over its original price. Despite the reviews, it was clear that this was marked down due to repeated flaws. Of the two bottles sampled, both had a subdued, harsh flavor lacking nuanced flavors and any varietal character. After a good 45 minutes of coaxing, a synthetic, vaguely peachy flavor gently wafted into our noses, but the flavor was still cheap, incredibly bitter, and puckered. It was undrinkable. While the cork showed signs of cork rot with a strange yellow residue on top, the wine inside looked fine– it retained its gentle petillance and clear, straw-yellow color. It was an intriguing problem as there were no factors to lead me to believe that the bottle was faulty. The cork sat flush with the mouth of the bottle and the capsule spun freely around the neck. For all intents and purposes, it looked like a perfectly fine wine at an end-bin price- not unusual for a store looking to unload the last of its stock.While I can’t exactly determine what was wrong with these particular bottles, I don’t believe this was a bad wine or vintage. Its factors and recent reviews suggest a completely different wine, so I can only assume that there was an error in storage after this was exported to the United States- high temperatures in a warehouse or poor storage conditions can indeed alter a wine like this. However, I’m not interested enough to go out and purchase another bottle at its suggested retail price for the sake of experimentation!

2007er Muller-Catoir Breumel in den Mauern Riesling Grosses Gewächs
MSRP $90
55/100

Now you’re left with a bad bottle and a bruised ego. What’s a girl to do? Coq au Riesling, of course.

Using a recipe from Amateur Gourmet, who in turn adapted his take on Coq au Vin from Molly Steven’s “All About Braising,” we turned this wine into a star in this rich, hearty dish.Coq au Riesling (a.k.a Alsatian Coq au Vin)
Loosely adapted from Amateur Gourmet and Art of Braising
Ingredients (makes six to eight large servings and amazing leftovers) 
1/3 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
One 4 1/2 to 5 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
All purpose flour for dredging (about 1/2 a cup)
1 stick unsalted butter divided into five pieces
1 large yellow onion (about 8 oz.), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 carrot, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons Cognac or other good brandy
One 750-ml bottle dry Riesling
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup chicken stock
10 oz. pearl onions
1/2 cup diced button mushrooms

1. Start by prepping your ingredients- dicing all the vegetables and chopping your chicken into eight pieces, discarding the carcass and wing tips.2. Render your diced bacon until the pieces are crispy and the fat pools at the bottom. Drain bacon on a paper towel lined plate and melt one of your butter pats in the pan.3. Season your chicken and dredge the pieces in the flour, pausing briefly to contemplate eliminating all of the vegetables and just frying the damned thing. Abandon and move on.4. Once your butter and bacon fat are hot and foaming, place your chicken pieces in to sear on medium-high heat, skin-side down, four to five pieces at a time without crowding the pan. Let the chicken get very brown and crispy, as this will incorporate the most flavor into the dish later on. This will take anywhere from five to ten minutes per batch.
5. When your first batch is finished, lower the heat and melt another pat of butter. Cook the other half. While the chicken is cooking, take the wingette from the first batch and eat it. It will be fully cooked and possibly the most succulent, tender wing you will ever have. I mean, come on, when’s the next time you’ll eat wings cooked in butter and bacon fat?6. When all of the chicken is cooked, you’ll be left with a browned, crispy sauce called a fond. To this, you will add your chopped onions (not the pearl onions) and carrots and stir around, mixing the tomato paste in and at the end, the cognac. Once the cognac is added, bring the pot to a boil and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to release the crispy bits.7. Once the carrot and onion are cooked, reduce the heat and add your spices and wine. This is definitely the only Coq au Vin made with a Grosses Gewächs.8. Once the broth has been brought up to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer briskly for fifteen minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about half. Pour in your chicken stock and bacon and  bring back to a boil. Scoop out half a cup of the liquid to use with the onions later on.9. Now that the stock is finished, you’ll want to add the chicken back into the pot in this order: legs, thighs, and wings, placed underneath the vegetables submerged in the stock. They’ll stay wherever you put them. Finally, put the chicken breasts on top skin-side down so that they don’t dry out in the cooking process.10. Cover the pot and reduce the heat so that the broth is simmering gently. Let it cook for 30-45 minutes, adjusting the heat if the simmer gets too low or too vigorous.

11. While the chicken is cooking, melt another pat of butter in a non-stick or stainless steel pan. When it is melted and sizzling, add your frozen pearl onions. These will take about four minutes to brown and cook down.

12. Take your reserved 1/2 cup of stock and pour it in, allowing it to reach a boil and reduce to a glaze. Once the onions are cooked and the glaze is reduced, pour them onto a plate and melt another tablespoon of butter on the pan.13. Put your diced mushrooms in the pan and cook until they are soft and golden brown. Pour the onions back in and simmer until your chicken has finished cooking. Then, remove the chicken and pour the onions and mushrooms into the pot with the brown, simmering for four minutes.14. Place your chicken on a plate and ladle the sauce over the top. Garnish with chopped parsley and slices of chewy bread to sop up the sauce with!

This makes fantastic leftovers and while work-intensive (around four hours to make), really is a labor of love and a good way to use up Rieslings that just don’t make the cut!

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About Jess
Rotten? Perhaps. Sweet? Without a doubt. Welcome to Nobly Rotten- the wine site that dares to be a little off.

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