Riesling may be Germany’s most prominent and perhaps prestigious grape varietal, but sommeliers are increasingly seeking out Germany’s other varietals. Case in point is Silvaner, an early ripening varietal that is most commonly associated with Franken (nearly a quarter of German Silvaner production is from here).
Silvaner comes from a natural cross between Traminer and Österreichisch Weiss (literally Austrian white) and is one of the oldest grape varieties. In 1659, the cultivation of Silvaner was first documented in Germany, namely in Castell (Franken). It was once the most important grape in Germany. Silvaner can produce moderately rich wines, with mild acidity, but can also be a great conveyor of terroir. A classic pairing to asparagus, Hartigan recommends “Silvaner, and specifically Thörle Probstey Silvaner from the Rheinhessen, matched with pan seared British Columbia scallops, topped with a lemon and chive beurre blanc, and accompanied with grilled asparagus.”
Pan San Seared Scallops with Lemon Chive Beurre Blanc and Asparagus
1 shallot, finely diced
10 tbsp butter, cold, cubed (1 tbsp cubes)
1/2 cup Silvaner
1 large lemon, juice
2 tbsp heavy cream
Salt & pepper
2 chives, finely diced
2 tbsp olive oil
12 large BC rock scallops, patted dry with paper towel
1 lb asparagus, trimmed
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Directions: Sweat shallot in 1 tablespoon of butter in pan set over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add wine and lemon juice. Raise heat to medium-high, when you have a rolling simmer, reduce to medium. When sauce has thickened add heavy cream. Lower heat to medium-low. Whisk in all but one of cubes of butter one at a time until the sauce has emulsified. Finish with pinch of salt and pepper, and chives.
Set another pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and remaining butter. When butter has melted and just starts bubble, season scallops generously with salt and pepper. Gently add to pan. Seared on one side for 2-3 minutes. Turn and sear for 1 more minute. Remove from pan.
While scallops are cooking, toss asparagus with remaining olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper. Set a griddle pan over medium-high heat. When pan is host add asparagus. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. To serve lay spears of asparagus on a plate, top with scallops and finish with beurre blanc. Accompany with a wedge of lemon.