Riesling is one of those underestimated grape varieties which unfortunately gained bad reputation back in the 70’ and 80’s when overly sweet wines with no acidity and character flooded the drinks market. Blue Nun, Black Tower or Liebfrauenmilch rings a bell? Well then, I’m here to make few things clear and change your opinion about Riesling.
First of all not every sweet Riesling is bad: if it’s carefully made, focusing on the perfect acidity ,picked in the right time and the producer consciously makes sweet Riesling it will be a pretty damn good treat as a dessert wine or as THE dessert.
Just think about German sweet wines like Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein (ice wine) when late harvest and botrytised grapes help the natural production. Has to be mentioned some of them makes dry wines as well, but talking about German Riesling could take a whole book, or another and another. This time I just want to give a you a brief introduction to fall in love first so let’s mention Alsace with it’s delicious, creamy and rich Rieslings (both sweet and dry). To make sure you pick a good bottle, always go to buy it from specialists not from supermarket to avoid disappointment.
Second of all: not every Riesling is sweet. Nowadays luckily we have so many talented young wine producers from all around the World who is focusing to create fresh, young, well balanced Rieslings, breaking the loop and building back a good reputation. It is about time, innit? (Sorry, I lived in Bristol, still using the slang:))
The reasons why Riesling is so amazing, because it is one of those varieties which doesn’t need any interaction in terms of oak or any biological addition or trick. Riesling absorbs the character of the soil, terroir, climate and makes the most clear wine. Loves to reflect where it was grown. For example in the North side of Lake Balaton, Hungary near Csopak, the soil is so various that almost every square meter is different and it gives all different flavors and characters to the wine. Same as Germany, the Nahe region, a producer called Dönnhoff has a range of Rieslings from many different terroirs and they all taste totally different: you can literally feel and taste the character of the terroir and microclimate. Riesling doesn’t like oak. But if you ever come across with oaked Riesling (because they’re exist) please, try it just see and compare.
The other fabulous reason which makes Riesling amazing because it ages so well, that you can keep either sweet or dry, for ages and can be a celebration drink on your children’s 18th instead of a Bordeaux. No kidding, and it’s definitely won’t be a disappointment. Why? Because Riesling typically balance sweetness with crisp, refreshing acidity that it is just the perfect preservation method for wine. If you keep it in right circumstances and environment it will be grateful and appreciate your care.
Aged Riesling has a typical petrol flavor which isn’t a bad thing, don’t be scared, stay open minded like before and give it a chance. It is true as well for cool climate Australian (best known Clare and Eden Valleys) and New Zealand (Central Otago, Waipara) Rieslings and these days they make fantastic wines, absolutely competitive with the others in the market with their pure lime citrus aromas followed by a crisp, dry, subtly floral palate and a hint of tropical fruit. And petrol.
If you’d like to experiment with New World Riesling then try Ovum 'Off the Grid’ available here.
It is a truly great wine from Oregon, a great example of a complex, high quality Riesling from the States: Smoky mineral, salty wet rock, yellow plum, rich and complex. Oregon’s uniquely cool climate, naturally low yields, and ancient volcanic and marine sedimentary soils give unique character to the wines crafted by its small, family winemakers. Definitely a reputation builder in the world of Riesling. Shame it is too far.
Well I could talk about Riesling for ages and so many more tasty wines and great regions to mention. This article is just a tiny slice of the Riesling cake but I hope I made a little influence on you and gave a little push to try and compare more Rieslings. Most important is to stay open minded and keep taste taste taste and taste the wines, that will give you a good base to learn. Remember, buy these wines from specialists and if you don’t drink them right away make sure you keep them well in your personal wine cellar :)
Happy Riesling drinking folks! :)
Blog posted by Lili - Follow her on Instagram