Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Trimbach and Thai Food

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Back in November, I wrote a post about pairing Rosé Champagne with Thai food. I love Rosé Champagne and think it accompanies a wide array of foods, so I'd thought I'd see how well it partnered with Thai cuisine. The results were spectacular- great wines and wonderful food.

As that worked so well, I'm going to take a look at other wines from around the world and see how well they marry with Thai food. So I thought I'd do focus on the wines of Alsace this time around as these whites are recognized as arguably the ideal wines to accompany Thai cuisine. And what better way to do this than to sample this food with the wines of Trimbach?

One of the most renowned houses in Alsace, Trimbach was established in 1626 (yes, almost 500 years ago!) and is located in Ribeauvillé, where members of the 12th generation of the Trimbach family - namely brothers Pierre and Jean - manage the company on an everyday basis accompanied by their father Bernard and uncle Hubert. 

Like most wine houses in Alsace, Trimbach produces a wide variety of wines that represent the array of grape varieties in the region. Muscat and Pinot Blanc are produced, but the emphasis is on three varieties: Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Several examples of each of these are produced, ranging from a regular bottling to single vineyard offerings.

Along with two friends, I tasted out four Trimbach wines with the Thai food; three Reserve offerings - Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling - along with a special selection Riesling known as Cuvée Frédéric Emile. The Reserve line is really quite notable, especially given that these wines are retail priced at $25 each. The Pinot Gris (2006 vintage) is quite dry with a rich mid-palate and big finish - this is not like most Pinot Gris (or Pinot Grigio) produced elsewhere. The aromas are of dried pear, apple peel and yellow flowers and there is very good acidity. This wine showed very well and can be enjoyed for another 2-3 years.

I adore Gewurztraminer and this 2009 Reserve bottling did nothing to dampen my desire of this variety. The aromas are textbook - lychee and yellow roses - and thankfully, this is not as perfumed as some examples of Gewurztraminer. Medium-full with plenty of appealing spice in the finish, this has lively acidity and is quite forward and even a bit fat on the palate - this is so delicious right now! This wine just jumps out of the glass and welcomes you with its fragrances and spicy flavors and I can't quite figure out how they made a wine this good for only $25!

The 2009 Riesling Reserve is also an excellent wine, but this is a very different style than the Gewurztraminer. While the Gewurztraminer is quite forward, the Riesling is lean and subdued. It's got lively acidity and light touch of minerality (what we used to label as "steely" in a Riesling). There are beautiful aromas of lime, melon and white peach and the wine just sort of glides across your palate, while the finish is long and dry. This is fine now, but it will open up and reveal greater complexities with another 2-3 years and it should still be drinking well in another 5-7 years.

As for the Cuvée Frédéric Emile Riesling (this from the 2005 vintage), this is one of the most distinguished wines from the producer, a selection of grapes from several vineyards including the Grand Cru sites Geisberg and Osterberg. The grapes are picked later than normal, giving them maximum ripeness and flavor, without sacrificing much in the way of acidity and to preserve varietal purity, the wine is aged solely in steel tanks, as the Trimbach brothers believe that wood aging does not add anything to this wine. Medium-full with a rich mid-palate, this has a very long finish with lively acidity and a hint of ginger in the finish to go along with the notes of apricot and chamomile in the aromas. This is a big wine with excellent complexity, yet it is always balanced and never over the top. Showing beautifully now, it should drink well for another 7-10 years. The Cuvée Frédéric Emile is a very limited wine, which helps explain the $75 price.

As for the wine and food pairings, as I wrote above, the white wines of Alsace are classic partners with Thai food and this particular night confirmed that quite well. We ate at Siam Country, one of my favorite BYOB hangouts in Chicago and tried a variety of dishes from spring rolls to satay to ginger pork to chicken with noodles and green curry. Each of the wines worked very well with virtually every dish; particularly good pairings were the Gewurztraminer with the ginger pork, the Pinot Gris with the chicken with green curry and the Riesling with the spring rolls. If I had to choose one or two wines for an entire Thai meal, I'd go with the Riesling and the Gewurztraminer; the former for its richness as well as its subtleties in playing up to the food, while the Gewurztraminer accentuates the spice in the dish. I'm not sure I'd want to play up the heat of a curry dish, so in this instance, the Pinot Gris would be the ideal match, while the Frédéric Emile Riesling clearly could stand up to any of these dishes and was particularly good with any presentation of chicken or pork.

Of course, you don't have to have Thai or Oriental cuisine to enjoy with these Trimbach wines. Many preparations of pork, veal, chicken or vegetables or quiche work beautifully with these wines. That's one of the secrets of the great white wines of Alsace, especially when they are rendered by the Trimbach family!

The wines of Trimbach are imported nationally by Palm Bay.


  1. a few days ago i drunk on a special occasion the 1995 Clos st Hune from Trimbach. Unbelievable great Riesling

  2. Yes, a great wine. I can only imagine how wonderful that must have been!