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30 May 2006

Martin's Mantras

FoodfriendlyMartin Pasler recited two mantras during my visit to his Jois (Neusiedlersee, Burgenland, Austria) winery:

"The best wine comes from old vineyards where I don't have to do much"


"If I could eat sushi every day, I would"

Let's unpack this.  Martin is a relatively small winemaker.  He works approximately 10 ha of vines.  Currently, he is seeking additional vineyard real estate.  However, rather than planting new vines, Martin has his heart set on acquiring old (25+ years) vineyards.  Of course, mature "wine gardens" are hard to come by.  So, in the meantime, he leases a few select rows of sufficiently-aged vines from a colleague, until he strikes gold and finds some geriatric grapes to call his own.  In addition to being a fan of the old vines, Pasler is a sushi fanatic.  Upon learning this, I mentioned to him that I dig the raw fish too.  He immediately responded with  recommendations for the best sushi spots in Vienna (alas, great sushi isn't easy to find outside the city).  Martin explained that he could never find great wine to pair with sushi; so he took it upon himself to develop the ideal sushi vino.  The poor guy sat himself down, with what I can only imagine was one big pile of sushi, and developed a white wine cuvee, called Shiro (white in Japanese) specifically for sushi.  Shiro is a blend of Chardonnay, Welsch Riesling and Muscat Ottonel.  The wine became so popular in two well-known Japanese restaurants in Germany, that the restaurant proprietors asked Martin to create two additional wines for Terriyaki and Kobe-style beef.  Thus Momo (rose) and Akka (red) were born.  Who'd have thunk it - Austrian wine produced especially for for Japanese Germany!  This is a great idea, which I hope soon finds its way to North America.

Vineyards Naturally, Martin's close proximity to Lake Neusiedl, lends itself to sweet, botrytis-affected wine.  Pasler offers a number of enticing sweets.  One which caught my palate's attention was a TBA made from the red grape, Zweigelt.  The wine is a lovely salmon color (sushi still on my mind), offering both nose and mouth the pure essence of raspberry & strawberry.  Tasty indeed.  Pasler wines are imported to the US by Winemonger.  See the photo gallery here.

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Jason Truesdell

Actually if I'm not mistaken there are a couple of US wineries producing wine with a sushi pairing in mind, but I can't quite recall which ones, so I can't guarantee greatness.

In Nishi-Shinjuku there's a sushi restaurant that focuses heavily on wine with sushi, which a bit unusual for Japan. Beyond that, wine from Italy, France, Austria, California and elsewhere is popular in Japan, even at Izakaya-type places.


Jason - I figured the idea was so good, there had to be other producers going after the "sushi wine" market. The resto in Nishi-Shinjuku sounds great. Perhaps a live Japanese wine adventure is in order!

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