Re-Discover Riesling

I scream, you scream, we all scream for……Riesling!

Riesling (Rees-ling) is most associated with its native Germany, though it is now planted in many wine growing regions the world over.  Not all Rieslings are alike; this grape can make  geographically expressive wines with a broad spectrum of aromas and flavours and a variety of sweetness levels.  So open your mind and prepare to expand your sense perceptions as we explore this amazingly versatile grape.

The Grape

Riesling makes pale, lemony-green coloured wines that deepen in intensity with age. Yes – the best Rieslings can develop many years in the bottle.  Much of the pleasure of drinking Riesling comes from the experience of smelling the wine because it really does smell like flowers and reminds me of walking through an apple orchard – it is an intensely aromatic grape. When you taste the wine, you’ll notice how it makes you salivate; that’s the high natural acidity present in the grape. For this reason, so many Rieslings are made in an “off-dry” to “medium-dry” style with low alcohol levels and some residual sugar to balance that zing.

Geography (or in wine speak “terroir”)

The wine’s aroma, mouthfeel, and flavour also depend on where the grapes ripen.  Riesling grown in cool climates (parts of Germany or Canada for example) will have more fresh grape and green apple characteristics. Across the German border in France, Rieslings from Alsace are usually riper, generally making the wines drier and weightier with more citrus, stone fruit and honeyed notes. Warmer regions tend to produce softer style wines with ripe tropical fruit notes.  Each region has its own distinctive style.

Winemaker’s Influence

Richness and complexity is obtained by either late harvesting very ripe or even botrytis-affected grapes.  An uber ripe Riesling with enough vibrant acidity can age for many years in the bottle developing notes of honey, smoke and that classic petrol smell.

Bishop’s Celler has a great selection of Rieslings to try at the moment.  Due to it’s beautiful aromatics and refreshing flavours, it is one of my favourite summertime wines.

We don’t have to go far from home to get a great bottle either.  Gaspereau Vineyards and Domaine Grand Pre both made award winning Rieslings this year. Here are some other Canadian Rieslings to get excited about:

2013 Norman Hardie Riesling, Ontario

Grapes sourced from Prince Edward County and Niagara, where the soil is a wonderful combination of clay and limestone.  Pronounced primary fruit aromas of lemon, apple and citrus with a clean mineral edge.  The acidity is high and balanced in this lightly off-dry style.  The wine is light bodied but intensely flavoured and perfectly refreshing.  Yum!  Drink this on its own or with any food that has a bit of spice to cool that palate.

2012 Tawse Limestone Riesling, Ontario

This is a single vineyard, sustainably farmed Riesling from one of Canada’s award winning wineries. Candied orange peel, honeysuckle, herbs and spice and a hint of minerality characterise the nose and palate.  Residual sweetness is balanced by lively acidity and and a long pleasing finish.