Re-discover the delights of Riesling

Languishing in the doldrums for many years, Riesling wines are now back in a big way, though sadly still overlooked by many consumers.
Riesling from around the World ©Richard Esling WineWyseRiesling from around the World ©Richard Esling WineWyse
Riesling from around the World ©Richard Esling WineWyse

These are, and always have been, ‘go to’ wines for those working in the wine industry but have not always been flavour of the month with many wine drinkers. During the 70s, 80s and to an extent 90s, an awful lot of rather mediocre wine was produced and sold cheaply to satisfy demand during that time (Remember Liebfraumilch?!). Much of this came from Germany, along with Hungary and Austria, and purported to be Riesling. Much damage was thus done to the reputation of this fabulous grape variety, and memories are long for things not good.

Riesling originates from the Rhine Valley in Germany and is the one true classic grape variety that is non-French. It is an aromatic grape variety, making some of the world’s finest white wines, the best having extraordinary longevity. There is a spectrum of aromas and flavours, progressing from floral and lime to intriguing tertiary aromas of petrol and kerosene. It is a variety which is renowned for expressing terroir, with different regions producing their own unique styles. Due to the susceptibility to noble rot which concentrates the natural sugars in the grape, styles can vary from bone dry to very sweet.

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Riesling thrives in cooler climates and is in fact one of the hardiest grape varieties, with a high level of frost resistance. With much production still centred in or near Germany – Alsace and Austria are close by – this grape variety is now grown in specific locations around the globe, producing elegant wines with high but balanced acidity.

Lone Birch Yakima Valley Riesling 2020 comes from Washington State, the most northerly State on the west coast of the US. One of the first grape varieties planted in this State, it is now a world-class growing region. Pronounced aromatics of tropical fruit and apricots, together with lime zest and some sweetness on the palate. Easy drinking on its own or with Thai cuisine. £11.50 from The Wine Society.

Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling 2022 comes from Marlborough in New Zealand – another cool climate viticultural region. Fresh, crisp, just off-dry and brimming with lime and fresh mandarin flavours, together with white peach and granny smith apples. Delicious anytime of day and with Asian cuisine. £10.99 from Waitrose. Moving back to Europe and Riesling’s roots, Schieferkopf Riesling Trocken 2022 comes from the Baden region of Germany. Fruity and floral with citrus and Mirabelle notes, full body with structure and minerality and a fresh, long, dry finish. Made by the renowned Rhone specialist M. Chapoutier, using biodynamic viticulture. £11.69 from House of Malt and other online merchants.

Poderi Colla Langhe Riesling 2021 is made in the Piemonte region of North-west Italy, an unusual variety for Italy. An outstanding dry Riesling, with pure peach and lime, with intense citrus and a long, mineral finish. Complex and refined with great ageing potential from the structure and concentration. From online merchants such as Taurus Wines - £18 - £19.

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And so to my favourite region for Riesling -the Alsace. Just over the Rhine from Germany, some of the greatest Rieslings are made here, with one of the leading estates being Domaine Zind-Humbrecht. With vineyards on difficult, steep slopes and an unwavering commitment to quality, not to mention Olivier Humbrecht being one of the first French MWs, the wines are outstandingly expressive. Riesling Roche Roulée 2019 is full-bodied, full-flavoured and long on the finish, with lime, stone-fruit and minerality. £21 from The Wine Society.

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