The noble Riesling grape is full of complexity, mouth-watering acidity, and lively freshness. It is also the most widely misunderstood wine. Do not be fooled by the stereotype that all Riesling is sweet. In fact, styles of Riesling range on the scale from honeyed tropical sweetness, to bone-dry. Riesling is a wonderful choice in warm summer weather due to its freshness, light alcohol content, high acidity, and natural fruit flavors. The best examples also have the ability to age for decades and improve in the bottle.
No matter where it’s grown across the globe, Riesling, the world’s greatest grape, always expresses a sense of place. Like Pinot Noir, it has the ability to illustrate the vineyard in which it’s grown. Individual terrior including the soil, climate, microclimates, elevation, and aspect of the vineyards, all contribute to the character of the wine found in your glass. In this list, we will explore some of the best Riesling producing countries, Austria, France, Germany and Australia, and what makes their styles unique. Very notable examples of Riesling are also found from Alto Adige, Oregon, the Finger Lakes, and New Zealand.
Best of all, Riesling pairs with just about everything! The dry styles are perfect with anything from lighter meats like roasted pork and poultry, to raw bar items like oysters. The off-dry styles are ideal with spicy Asian dishes as the sweetness in the wine subdues the chili heat. You can even pair slightly sweet Rieslings with spicy Spanish sausages like Chorizo and southern barbeque fare.
The very sweet dessert styles of German Riesling classified as Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, or Eiswein pair beautifully with rich and creamy desserts like cheesecake. For a lighter summer treat, pair with refreshing fruit sorbets and fresh berries. Savory blue cheeses like Roquefort and Bleu d’Auvergne also work well for those without a sweet tooth.
This summer explore the diversity and versatility of Riesling, the gift that keeps on giving!
Rieslings from Austria represent a very small percentage of the total wine production for the country, as Grüner Veltliner is the signature grape and the most widely planted. Austrian Rieslings tend to be rounder and more full-bodied than German Rieslings. They commonly have a very austere character, described as steely and minerally.
2014 Brunn Riesling Kamptal, Austria ($17.99): Light straw in color with classic aromas of peach, citrus, and spicy notes. Bright peachy flavors continue on the palate with wet slate and lively acidity.
Alsacian Riesling is defined by it’s bright aromatic character, spice, and floral quality. Think Grandma’s purse wafting perfume aromas. White flowers and stone fruits like peach and nectarine explode from the glass. Offering less minerality than Austrian Riesling, they are usually more unctuous.
2015 Louis Hauller Riesling 1L, Alsace, France ($14.99): The Hauller family began growing wine in the early 20th century in Alsace, and presently farms 25 acres in the Bas-Rhin. The estate and winery are currently managed by Louis Hauller and his grandson Claude. Bone-dry, this wine offers aromas of jasmine, lemon and lime citrus, and a racy, refreshing palate.
2012 Domaine Emile Beyer Riesling Tradition, Alsace, France ($24.99): A beautifully refreshing dry Riesling with power, finesse, and an explosion of honeysuckle, and orange blossom.
2015 Weinbach Riesling Reserve Personnelle, Alsace, France ($26.99): Weinbach Riesling offers mouthwatering, bracing acidity. Round and complex, with aromas and flavors of peach, nectarine, honeysuckle, and kerosene, this is a very special wine.
2014 Heimberger Riesling Grand Cru Schoenenbourg, Alsace, France ($29.99): This Grand Cru vineyard wine shows a hint of sweetness on the palate with good length, balanced acidity, jasmine, and honey.
Mosel and Rheingau, Germany
Germany is the king of Riesling production. It has ideal climates, soil types, and a very organized system for classifying quality and sweetness levels on wine labels. German Riesling is easy to love and offers the most diverse styles. In cool climates such as the Mosel valley in northern Germany, the wines are known for low alcohol, delicate stone fruits, floral, and citrus aromas, with zippy acidity. The Rheingau, located along the beautiful Rhine river, is the most famous of the German wine regions. Located near Frankfurt, Rheingau wines have more structure and a fuller-body compared to that of the Mosel. They offer more intense and pronounced aromas and flavors.
2012 Schloss Lieser Riesling Kabinett Estate, Mosel, Germany ($25.99): Notes of lime, green apple, ripe white peach, and spice on the nose. Look for white pepper spice, minerality, and hints of petrol on the long finish.
2011 von Hövel Kabinett Oberemmeler Hutte, Saar, Mosel, Germany ($19.99): The 21-hectare von Hövel estate operates out of a manor house that was completed in the 12th century. Located in Konz-Oberemmel in the Saar, the old cellar remains the same as it was over 800 years ago. This wine is dry, bright, and fresh with notes of green apple, Thai basil, and lime.
2010 Schloss Schonborn Riesling Kabinett Estate, Rheingau, Germany ($19.99): The roots of the von Schönborn family can be traced all the way back to the crusades, and the first mention of winemaking was in the year 1349. Schloss Schönborn is the oldest estate in Germany and one of the oldest in the world, continuously owned by the same family for 27 generations. This is an incredible value! Slightly sweet with a honeyed aroma of papaya, spice, and a creamy texture. This is a pronounced and full-bodied wine.
Clare Valley, Australia
When most people think of Australian whites they typically think of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. However, the Rieslings of Australia should not be overlooked. They are an incredible value and they express their warmer climate with tropical fruit aromas showing up in the glass.
2014 Kilikanoon Killermans Run Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia ($19.99): Spicy white pepper, citrus blossom, ripe pineapple, white cherries, and lemon curd show off on this outstanding Clare Valley expression.
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