The King of White Wines: Riesling

 

The purity of fruit aroma combined with a unique fruit acidity make the Riesling into one of the greatest grape varieties in the world, which has been experiencing a true renaissance internationally in recent years. About hundred years ago, German Riesling wines were among the most expensive in the world and some were even more expensive than Chateau Lafite!

 

Germany is the home country of Riesling! Over 22,000 hectares in German vineyards are planted with Riesling which is about 60 percent of all the Riesling in the world. Pfalz and Mosel are the two largest Riesling-growing regions in the world. One of the first authenticated documents which mentions growing Riesling in this country is the invoice from a winery in R├╝sselsheim to the Count of Katzenelnbogen for "six vines of Riesling planted in the vineyard", dated 13th March 1435. Due to monastic viticulture, Riesling quickly spread into the German wine regions - particularly into the river valleys, whose heat-storing capacity was especially well suited to this grape variety. Thanks to German immigrants, Riesling also advanced to other countries in the world, such as Australia, the USA and New Zealand.

 

Unlike most other grape varieties the characteristics of a Riesling depends on the type of soil it grows in. In other words, the Riesling grape expresses its "terroir" (soil & microclimate) so greatly that a good Riesling can be a "footprint" of the place where it is grown. The typical aromas of Riesling are reminiscent of apple and peach, citrus notes, apricot and floral hints, amongst others. Some Rieslings, especially when they are grown on slate, develop a concise mineral note.

 

The Riesling plays out its strengths in an unmatched number of variations: As a sparkling wine, a light Kabinett wine, as a noble Sp├Ątlese (late harvest) or precious Auslese, Beerenauslese (BA), Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) or ice wine. The styles range from bone dry, off-dry, semi-sweet to sweet and noble sweet wines which makes Riesling with no doubt the most versatile grape variety in the world. Unlike most other white grape varieties, Riesling possesses the ability to mature extremely well mainly due to its high acidity which gives especially noble sweet Riesling wines its extreme longevity - the best ones can still being enjoyed even after more than fifty years. Those noble sweet wines have one secret in common: the noble rot (botrytis cinerea). It is a "good" fungus which gives the Riesling aromas further perfection. The fungus pierces the skin of the grapes so that water evaporates from the grapes, leaving behind a much higher concentration of sugar, fruit acids, extracts and minerals. This results in very intense, concentrated noble sweet wines which are rare treasures.

 

Riesling is wonderfully fruity and refreshing and pairs very well with most cuisines and in particular with Asian flavours. In an off-dry or semi-sweet style, Riesling harmonises perfectly with spicy ingredients as the sweet and refreshing acidic element of the Riesling balances the spiciness of many Asian dishes. In a dry style, Riesling is a charming partner for many fish and seafood dishes. Riesling pairs also well with white meat such as chicken or veal and the noble sweet styles such as Beerenauslese are delicious aperitifs or pair sensationally with sweet desserts and cheeses.