Riesling

Wine of the variety Riesling

Riesling is the name of one variety or breed of white grape native to central Europe and also the appellation of origin (DO) who receive certain quality white wines produced in the Alsace region in France and in other areas of Germany, Austria and northern Italy. The grapes are small, yellowish limited production. In Spain gives dry wine, fruity, fresh and floral, but with less solemnity and complexity in Alsace, Moselle and the Rhine. It is also grown in Catalonia and Mallorca, where the winery in the DO Miguel Gelabert Llevant Plá and has produced a Riesling wine, excellent, getting high-profile awards in various international competitions. With the riesling grape wines are produced special called Gel Vi in the Penedès by a particular process of growing and winemaking.

Riesling is possibly the best and most noble German variety that is also the best known around the world.

It originates from the Rhine River Valley, in Germany, where the first records of wine made with the variety date back to 1435, under the name Rießlingen. It is derived from the French Gouais Blanc variety, which is said to come from varieties like Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Muscadelle.

Its second home is Alsace, a small region in France between the Vosges mountains and the Rhine river basin, where it shares its spotlight with the Gewürztraminer variety. There are some great dry Riesling wines from Alsace. They also make some “Vendage Tardive” (late harvest) and “Sélection de Grains Nobles” sweet wines, made with grapes affected by botrytis.

Riesling grapes produce noble and elegant wines that are perfectly balanced in sugar and acidity, and with exceptional longevity; They also have the ability to reflect their particular terroir. They always result in fruity and floral wines with different nuances depending on the plot, climate and soil they were grown in.

Riesling characteristics

This strain creates very small and compact clusters, with very short stems and small, pale green berries, evenly spread out and difficult to detach.

The strains are medium strength and adapt well to all types of soils although poor soils are the most suitable. It sprouts quite late, so it is not very sensitive to cold but it is prone to diseases.

It is an easy victim for grey rot, which results in interesting sweet wines from grapes affected by botrytis (noble rot).

Riesling wine tasting

The Riesling variety is aromatic, delicate and expressive and offers aromas of limes when the grapes are immature, developing into notes of lemon, pineapple and peach when the variety reaches optimum ripeness.

It also presents other fruity aromas reminiscent of apples, apricots and nectarines. With age, they can also develop aromas of toasted bread or honey, and if the strain has grown in warmer climates, its wines usually express aromas of exotic tropical fruits.

Coupages of Riesling and other varieties are rare, and Riesling wines are not usually aged in barrels so that the wood does not interfere with the flavour. In traditional winemaking, they use large wooden barrels because they guarantee stable fermentation and allow a permanent and controlled micro-oxygenation that helps sharpen the acidity of the musts.

Riesling wines have a surprising and rather strange aroma: the smell of gasoline or kerosene. Some have described this as being like the smell that comes from car brakes. This peculiar aroma belongs to the family of so-called “empyreumatics”. Riesling wines acquire it over the years. There are some Australian Rieslings that even have this from a young age.

The acidity of the Riesling variety means it can also be used to make sparkling wines.

Because it is susceptible to botrytis cinerea, it creates a wonderful range of wines made from grains with noble rot across different levels of sweetness and with something for everyone. They are elegant, gastronomic and very long-living wines.

The Riesling variety grows in very cold weather. Exceptional late-harvest wines and sweet ice wines (Eiswein) are also made from it, using overripe grapes that are frozen with the first frost and have a high concentration of sugars. An exclusive treat!

In Germany, wines are classified by their quality (Qualitätswein) and well as by their sugar content, which we will explain below, from lowest to highest. On the labels of each bottle you will see the following:

Trocken wines: as the word itself suggests: dry. These are wines with the minimum amount of residual sugar, which we could consider to be dry Rieslings in this case.

From here, any of these wines will be more or less sweet.

Kabinett wines (cabinet, for saving): these are light wines, with a low alcohol content and medium sweetness.

Spätlese wines (late harvest): these wines have more sugar than Kabinett, and therefore more body. The grapes used to make these are harvested late.

Auslese wines: Among the “dry wines” are the ones with the most sugar. They are denser than the previous two and have notes of ripe tropical fruits. They made using grapes affected with botrytis (noble rot).

In the sweet wine categories, there are the Beerenauslese (selected berries) and Trockenbeerenauslese (selection of dried berries) that are sweet and very sweet Riesling wines made with selected grapes from the clusters affected by noble rot.

Pairing with Riesling

Wines made with the Riesling variety are very versatile.

The moderately sweet wines are perfect for enjoying with spicy foods and their acidity refreshes and cleanses the palate. So if you love Asian cuisine like Indian or Thai, or you like spicy Latin dishes, Riesling wines are what you are looking for.

Riesling wines go very well with meats like duck, pork and chicken; also with fish and shellfish. They can even sit alongside some red meat or game.

Riesling wines are perfect for enjoying with sushi.

They are ideal for pairing with cheeses and foie. The sweetest Rieslings are a perfect accompaniment for blue cheeses, for example.

They go well with vegetables. They are especially suited to those with a certain natural sweetness like red onion, some peppers, aubergine, pumpkin or carrots.

Riesling cultivation areas

The Riesling grape can create totally different wines depending on the area where it is grown and its aging ability is unrivalled. Although to begin with, Riesling was not widely accepted or appreciated, it is becoming increasingly fashionable, more widely praised and considered to be the best white variety.

We can obviously find Riesling in Germany, its native land.

Also in Alsace, the only region in France where it is authorised.

Riesling can be found in Austria, Australia, the United States, New Zealand and to some extent, in some parts of Spain and Italy, as well as Chile, Argentina and Canada.

Varieties similar to Riesling

If you like Riesling wines, then you might also like wines made with Loureiro, Albariño, Chenin Blanc and Torrontés

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Radoar Vives Riesling 2019

Italy DOC Südtirol Alto Adige (Alto Adige)

A refreshingly crisp Riesling with a slow-crafted character.
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Steinmetz Brauneberger Riesling 2022

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Steinmetz Brauneberger Riesling, a bestseller from the Moselle
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