Riesling is an aromatic little white grape, which is full of flavour, sugar and acid. It really takes on the conditions of its surroundings, meaning that the wines reflect the environment in which they are grown, be it the soil type, the climate or how the grapes are treated. Riesling wines come in a variety of styles from very dry through to lusciously sweet.
Styles Of Riesling
Riesling will happily grow in cool climates and where it does the wines have green fruit flavours with floral, and sometimes mineral, notes. In warmer regions, the wines will typically display more tropical flavours, with hints of mango, pineapple and peach. Riesling is rarely oaked, although its high levels of acidity and intense fruit helps develop honey and toast like aromas when aged. The key thing about Riesling is that it is so versatile. So if you have tried Riesling before and didn’t like it, try another style and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Germany is the home of Riesling. In the past, much of this has been exported as Liebfraumilch or Piesporter and, as a result, Riesling has gained a somewhat negative reputation for being sickly, sugary and tasteless. However, German Riesling is not all like that – far from it. Wines range from light to full-bodied, dry to sweet and with green fruit through to exotic and citrussy fruits.
Across the border in Alsace, the long dry autumns provide ideal growing conditions for medium bodied Rieslings, although fuller bodied versions are also produced here. Riesling is also big business in Austria where the wines typically have citrussy, stone fruit flavours with minerally aromas and medium to high acidity.
But it’s not just the Old World that is suited to the growing of Riesling. Australia produces some fantastic quality Riesling, typically with tropical, citrus flavour fruit and sometimes smoky aromas. Eden and Clare Valleys in particular are the key Riesling growing regions.
Across the water in New Zealand, there are some lovely fruity Rieslings being produced, especially in Marlborough and Nelson. Alternatively, try Riesling from Chile and Argentina where it is often blended with other white grapes such as Viognier or Chardonnay.
It might sound strange but rotten Riesling grapes produce great dessert wines. Natural fungus called Botrytis is encouraged to grow on the grapes. In turn, this sucks the water out of the grapes, concentrates the sugars and creates its own sweet, honeysuckle flavour, which is then bottled as dessert wine. Try it next time you serve a dessert and see for yourself.
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Louise Truswell works in the wine industry. She has been writing about wine for couple of years and likes writing about Riesling. To find out more and to choose from a range of Riesling wines, visit - www.virginwines.com
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