Fillet of Halibut with Szechuan Aubergines and Edelzwicker

A new fishmonger has opened in town and D’s first purchase was some lovely looking halibut. She used a recipe of Skye Gyngell whose book we have been exploring lately. The fish worked beautifully with a very crisp skin and the flesh just turning from transparent to white. The treatment of the aubergines results in a soft, spicy bed for the fish and the whole is beautiful, but a bit of a challenge for a wine.

You might correctly anticipate that I would go for an aromatic Alsace white and this time I chose an Edelzwicker that I had found on our last French trip. Edelzwicker is always a blend of Alsace grapes, and the better ones use a high proportion of ‘noble’ grapes like Riesling and Pinot Gris. This one was Edelzwicker, Alsace, Cave de Turckheim. No vintage was stated just the 12% alcohol content and the main grapes: Pinot Blanc/Sylvaner/Riesling.  Given that the highest proportions were of the relatively soft Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner it proved remarkably dry and limey – what you might expect from a majority of Riesling. So this was not as full as I expected. And despite the usual quality of the Caves de Turckheim, this was one of their cheaper wines (I paid only £3.83 a bottle in France, less than £6.00 equivalent in the UK) and frankly not good enough for the wonderful meal. To cope with the spicy aubergines this needed a Pinot Gris of the quality of the Man O’ War we had last week or its Alsace equivalent. That would have meant £10 or so a bottle, but this is no everyday dish.

An interesting experiment then, but I shall have to find a different use for the remaining Edelzwicker. It won’t be hard; it’s a perfectly good wine, just not what I had expected. Less spicy Chinese dishes and perhaps charcuterie should go well.

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