So you maybe have slurped a Riesling recently and were thinking wow … this is Reeeeisling GOOD! Well why not consider taking a grape escape to Germany the home where the king of white grapes flourishes… where everything happens for a Riesling.
Whats Makes Riesling Special.
Riesling is one grape that has amazing diversity and most winelovers will agree is the king of all white grapes. Riesling is so diverse there are many winemakers in Germany that only focus on producing this one grape while being able to create a portfolio of stunning wines with a breadth of aroma / flavour significance, and complexity.
And even if you think sweeter wines aren’t your thing .., we all love a bit of honey, grandmas apricot jam of salted caramel from time to time... these are all reminiscent of the surprise and delight that can be found in a late harvest, even aged Riesling
Its a grape that can be more difficult to grow and although has its challenges (fungus and reaching optimal ripeness) grows better in a cooler climate which the Germans have had to master since Roman times.
Because of the cooler climate most grape varieties in Germany and especially riesling will have a high acidity. This higher acidity is then magically paired with a longer, slower ripening time which allows for full flavour and aromatics to develop. While climate change has its impact on all of us it definitely has influenced Riesling over the past 6 or so years. Warmer conditions have helped to boost yields while also boosting optimal ripening. What does this mean... more awesome, balanced Rieslings that everybody can enjoy.
Taking it a step further Riesling in the hands of a great winemaker, who focus on biodiverse vineyard health, single site yield management and patience with ripening produce incredibly aromatic Rieslings that have a balanced , mineral driven acid structure with pure fruit forward aromas.
Riesling is also a vine with roots that grow deep and therefore can reflect the soils it is grown in adding further character. Great Rieslings from a single site (Grand Cru) are known to have a certain, distinct minerality. Also because of the balance of high Acidity and sugars quality rieslings can age creating round, marmalade and earthy baked notes.
OK… So you can get Dry Riesling… But I heard a lot of Riesling is Sweet and I don’t like sweet wines.
While sure there is plenty of sweet Riesling out there. And in the past a lot of cheap, low quality sweet Riesling were exported while the good stuff was slurped on German soil.
Today Most Riesling is produced and labelled Trocken (DRY in German) which under german law need to have <9 residual sugar. Many of the best dry Riesling can be found in the Rhine Valley, Rheingau and Rheinhessen regions.
However, as mentioned Riesling has a long ripening time and because of the acidity stays riper longer. So there are actually 6 varieties or stages of late harvest Riesling to discover all with varying degree of sugar levels. While to go into detail this is an entire discussion, You go from a lighter, slightly fruiter but still dry wine to at the later end you get a Riesling that is similar to a port, can be aged for 40+ years and decedantly sweet as the juice is squeezed almost from raisins.
But even if you don’t usually like sweet wines what makes these wines different is they still have an acidic, juicy back bone. So while being more ripe and fruit forward they can still be refreshing and enjoyable because there is balance to the wine. And if you like spice, asian food and Riesling Kabinett (off dry - light and Fruity Fresh) or Spätlese ( very ripe, higher sugar, juicy, lower Alcohol) wines are a match made in heaven.
Has all this made you thirsty? If so now you have a good Riesling to take a Grape Escape to Germany. On tour we will discover Riesling in all its glory from smaller producers to critically acclaimed as we cruise through the vineyards to see the vines and admire their grape views. There will also be a chance to swirl, sniff and slurp many other amazing wine varieties beyond Riesling. I promise that after a day slurping many wines with me you will be more experienced and most likely big fans of German wine & Riesling! Zum Wohl ( German for to good health )
Riesling - THE FAST FACTS TASTES LIKE.... 1.Primary, common FRUIT FLAVOURS apricot, nectarine, peach, apple, pear, pineapple, lime, lemon 2.Secondary flavours, terroir influence or after ageing sage, mint, lemongrass, honey, jasmine, petrol, ginger, citrus blossom, rubber, hot stone, marmalade, salted caramel, beeswax /honeycomb, butterscotch. ACIDITY High in young dry wines. Rounds out slightly with Ageing. Riesling is a grape with the highest acidity levels. HISTORY One of the oldest grape varieties to be identified. First mentioned in 1435 when several vines were sold to a German count Germany is the Largest producer of Riesling. In the Mosel alone Riesling account for 92% of cultivation.
PROVENANCE Germany is the largest producer of Riesling. While a Riesling can be found throughout the German wine regions. Its claim to fame lies in the Mosel (especially for sweeter styles and a unique terroir of Slate). But there are also many fine, diverse and mostly DRY examples from the Rheingau. Rheinhessen and Pfalz where each has its own terroir and history influencing the grapes style. In the Rheingau Riesling can have some of the sharpest acidity and come as across extremely bone dry, racey and delightfully fresh. In the Pfalz and Rheinhessen there is generally a slightly rounder acidity and minerality from Riesling grown on lime & sandstone.
AGEING POTENTIAL Its a white wine that can be aged longer than most white wines as acidity acts a preservative. Quality Riesling and Sweeter Riesling can be aged from 8+ -40 yrs. STYLE Riesling is one grape with amazing diversity. Enjoy young for vibrant, crisp, more racey pronounced fruit and pure aromatics. Drink aged for rounder acidity, earthy, beeswax, marmalade even kerosene/ petroleum aromas. Riesling can be “Trocken” bone dry or depending on the stage of harvest. At a later stage there is more sugar in grape and less moisture (water). Riesling grapes at the later stage, so as they start turning in to raisin attract Botrytis aka 'Noble Rot" resulting in a condensed earthy sweetness.