Riesling - this renowned classic is number one in Germany
At the beginning of the 19th century German Riesling wines were among the most expensive in the world. Many producers today are aiming for these heights again.
Simply sniffing a Riesling is a great pleasure. Hints of apple, citrus, peach and apricot can be detected. 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. At the beginning of the 19th century German Riesling wines were among the most expensive in the world!
One can confidently speak of Germany as the home of the Riesling. With 24,049 ha cultivated in 2019, it covers nearly a quarter of all German vineyards. In an international comparison, German producers have a share of around 40% of global Riesling cultivation. The Pfalz and the 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 Rüsselsheim to the count of Katzenelnbogen for “six vines of Riesling planted in the vineyard”, dated 13th March 1435. Due to monastic
viticulture this grape variety has introduced important new emphasis to the wine culture since the Middle Ages. The term “Johannisberg Riesling”, commonly used in the United states, is derived from the Johannisberg vineyard in the Rheingau, the oldest surviving Riesling
vineyard in the world.
Riesling quickly spread into the German wine regions – particularly into the river valleys, whose heat-storing capacity was especially well suited to this variety. Thanks to German immigrants Riesling also advanced to other countries in the world, such as Australia, the USA and New Zealand.
So much stylistic diversity from the one grape
Unlike most other grape varieties the character of a Riesling depends on the type of soil it grows in. heavy clay soils promote a citrus fruit aroma, new red sandstone ensures a taste of apricot in the wine, and slate soils create a concise mineral note which is at times reminiscent of flint. Riesling wines can age beautifully. When matured, they often have a noble dark greenish-blue tinge that promises maximum enjoyment to the connoisseur.
A great grape like the Riesling plays out its strengths in a number of variations:
As a “Winzersekt” (winegrower’s sparkling wine), as a light Kabinett wine, as a noble spätlese (late harvest) or precious ice wine – regardless whether created dry, semi-dry or noble sweet. Riesling is wonderfully refreshing in this diversity and as a food companion goes particularly well with fish and poultry dishes with light sauces, or vegetable ragout. As the semi-dry variety, it is the ideal accompaniment to Asian cuisine.
Then there are the sweet treasures: Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. Incomparable exquisite pleasures which have one thing in common: the noble rot (botrytis cinerea), which contribute further perfection to Riesling's aromas. Riesling is particularly suitable for these sumptuous varieties as it matures slowly and late, and the noble fungus can spread delicately around the grapes. If the weather in the autumn is propitious, and it is neither too cold nor too dry, then there is nothing to stop the evolution of these rare sweet pleasures.
The elixir from these individually hand-picked berries delivers concentrated flavours with bright Riesling acidity. The smell of dried fruit, honey, ripe pineapple and yellow peaches caresses the nose. These are delicious aperitifs – or wonderful partners to fruity desserts or strong cheeses.
Riesling also makes an ice wine of great pleasure. Ice wines are concentrated, extremely refined wines with brilliant acidity, bright fruit flavours and sweetness from a grape, that can reach must weights of up to 250° Oechsle. No wonder then that Riesling ice wines rate among the treasures of wine.