Much loved by the Victorians, Riesling was once considered the finest of all white wines. Happily, it is once again slowly returning to favour after many years of decline.
Riesling is without doubt a noble variety that can yield intense wines marked by aromas of lemon, petrol, lime zest, elderflower and minerals, and balanced by high acidity and varying sweetness. The best examples can capture the special mineral quality of the vineyard soils; Germany’s Mosel Valley imparts slatey, siliceous mineral flavours, while the granite and sandstone of Alsace are reflected in dry, opulent wines.
The off-dry Kabinett and Spatlese wines from Germany retain the alluring characteristics and offer lower levels of alcohol than most table wines. Fashionable Austrian Rieslings are clean and dry with finesse and classic elderflower and mineral character.
Much interest has been inspired by the dry lemony Rieslings of Australia, whilst the fashion is for slightly sweeter, though just as intense Rieslings from New Zealand. Characteristics of Aussie Rieslings are the high levels of well-balanced acidity, which greatly contribute to the extraordinary ageing potential.
Riesling also produces stunning dessert wines from late harvests of shrivelled grapes and by the selection of grapes that have been concentrated by the dehydrating action of noble rot. Dry Riesling combines particularly well with foods including steamed fish, white meats and Oriental cusine. The sweeter German Spatlese and Auslese Rieslings work with shellfish, pickled vegetables and creamy dishes.