Riesling really is a ‘something for everyone’ grape and if you’ve pooh-poohed it for being too sweet, there’s a whole spectrum of styles from dessert wines to bone dry, of which one will undoubtedly suit your tastes. It is an aromatic grape that is terroir-expressive, and as a result nuanced in style.
Its versatility is evident in winemakers' ability to temper acidity with varied amounts of residual sugar with minimal compromise on balance. Its this manipulation that allows wineries to produce Rieslings that vary from sweet (an excellent example of botrytis-infected wines) to wonderfully dry and off-dry.
The aforementioned sugar allows Riesling the possibility to preserve for years to come. Pair this with the high acidity commonplace in Riesling and you’ll find a mature bottle having the same wonderful freshness yet with more developed notes of honey and petroleum, which is known and loved in these wines. In fact, at this very moment, Berry Bros & Rudd has a 1976 bottle of JJ Prum for sale.
Another big sell for this grape is its food pairing abilities, the old adage is that it pairs well with Asian and spicy foods but it makes a great accompaniment to wider, more varied cuisines, thanks to that racy acidity. The sweeter wines are generally lower in ABV and as it’s generally such an aromatic and flavoursome wine, it makes a great base for spritzers.
Enjoy our roundup of exciting Rieslings to try this month from various regions.
The Mosel valley is the world's largest producer of Riesling, with Alsace hot on its heels. It’s a region that flourishes on the slate soils that imbue flavours of minerality.
“The reflective and heat-retaining properties of slate help enhance ripening in the cool climate,” says Ernst Loosen of Dr Loosen.
“Slate soil is very well-drained, which the Riesling vine prefers. And the edgy, mineral character of the slate is reflected in the brisk acidity and fine structure of the wines.”
2017 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling GG
This is the Riesling for those who dislike sweet wines. It is bone dry (note the GG on the bottle) with a concentrated flavour that displays the qualities of the blue slate soils. Dr Loosen is one of the Mosel greats, having been awarded VDP classification, classifying it as one of the greatest vineyards of Germany.
Can’t find this bottle? Why not try the 2013 vintage here ($84)
2017 - £40 from Tannico
Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett 2018
From one of the steepest sites of the Mosel, Joh Jos Prum, or JJ Prum, is one of Germany’s most iconic vineyards. This particular bottle is an off-dry, with ‘Kabinett’ meaning it’s the lightest style. Expect a medium-sweet wine with racy acidity and an enjoyably long finish.
Can't find this vintage? Why not try the 2012 here (£50)
2018 £30 from Vinatis
Berncasteler Doctor Riesling Auslese Weingut Dr H Thanisch (Thanisch) 2017
This is a lovely vintage from a revered family-run vineyard, currently with Sofia Thanisch at the helm. The 2017 rings of peach and orange blossom, weighing in with plenty of body and a persisting finish that unfolds notes of minerality. It gives a real taste of the terroir from the offset, it is distinctively on the sweeter side and sits at 7.5% ABV.
£65 Corney & Barrow
Weingut Gindorf Auslese 2018
A summer wine to be enjoyed now, this Riesling has distinctive honeyed notes on the nose and palate, with sweet pear and apricot. Sitting on the higher end of the sweetness spectrum with 7.5% ABV, this is a wine that’s easily enjoyed alone or as the base of a spritzer.
£10 from Winebuyers
For those who tend to veer away from sweeter wines, Alsace Riesling is definitely one to experiment with. Benefitting from being one of France’s drier and sunnier regions it produces more dry Rieslings. Profiles are floral with distinctive notes of stone fruit and hints of smoke. They are generally higher in alcohol but also have a fantastic propensity to age well.
Trimbach Riesling Clos Sainte Hune, 2014
Trimbach’s most famous wine, exemplary in how a Riesling can age beautifully. It's the potential, reliability and flawless results of every vintage that makes Clos Sainte Hune a collector’s favourite. The 2014 vintage is bone-dry with concentrated flavours of floral honeysuckle, juicy pear and citric acidity.
£175 from Vinatis
Hugel Grossi Laüe Riesling 2013
Another revered Alsacian winery, Hugel is a great port of call for a reliable Riesling. Slightly richer in colour, this wine tastes all the better from the years it has laid down already and will certainly continue to perform after more. A sip leaves mouth awash from the acidity, held in balance by candied fruit and crisp apple.
$89 from Wine Chateau
Riesling Beblenheim Domaine Trapet 2015
A biodynamic Alsace Riesling from the Trapet family, predominantly known for their Burgundian, this vintage has depth delivered from a few years’ laid down. Reflective of the limestone and clay soils, this Riesling is dry with a distinctive mineral backbone and stone fruit prevailing from nose to palate alongside high levels of citric acidity.
£19 Corney & Barrow
As it’s such a versatile grape, there are a number of regions in which Riesling can flourish including Australia, South Africa and parts of the US.
Lonely Vineyard Riesling 2016
For those that love the petroleum characteristics that are so unique to Riesling, this Lonely Vineyard vintage is bursting with it. From Australia’s Eden Valley this dry, vibrant Riesling displays the characteristics of its loamy soils in soft minerality and light floral notes.
£19 from Corney & Barrow
Ravines Argetsinger Vineyard Dry Riesling 2015
The Finger Lakes is known for its Riesling and ticks all the boxes for its refreshing palate and high acidity and this Ravines delivers on exactly that. It’s crisp and reflects the minerality of the limestone soils. A nice introduction into the Finger Lakes Riesling.
$30 from wine.com
Remhoogte ‘Free To Be’ Riesling
An organically farmed wine from Stellenbosch, Remhoogte has Chris Broosted at the helm. A sweet wine with notes of wet stone, citrus and apple are apparent. It has great balance and racy acidity.
£15 from Wanderlust
Heumann Rajnai Rizling
Hungarian Rieslings aren't ones to come up with much frequency and this one particularly comes from a small winery in Villány-Siklós. It's a dry wine with pleasant stone fruits and grapefruit and great balance, definitely one worth seeking out.
£13 from Wanderlust