Riesling Wines are very interesting and allure many different types of wine drinkers. It has been my finding that people that are not really serious wine drinkers tend to go for the sweeter versions of this style of wine but it goes much deeper than satisfying non wine drinkers. There are many different styles of Riesling wines. Riesling is a noble grape that originated in the Rhine region of Germany where it still dominates. This varietal of wine shows definite characteristics dependant on the terroir that it comes from. Cool climates, such as Germany, have high acidity and exhibit apple type flavors. Warmer climates, like Australia, tend to display a lime characteristic. The characteristics of this German origin wine is that it has a very floral bouquet with flavors of peach, honey and apricot on the palate. Let’s throw in a little shocker, “Not all Rieslings are sweet”. Rieslings from Alsace tend to be drier than other areas. Rieslings are actually broken up into five different styles based heavily on sweetness; from driest to sweetest they are Kabinett, Spaltlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese.
One amazing fact that I discovered is that good Rieslings, due to the high acidity and sugar content, can be cellared forever. By that I mean 50-100 years in some fine Rieslings. This just blows me away. We are always looking at body, acids and appropriate chemistry to determine the cellar life expectancy of our red wines yet a Riesling, with its normal high acid and sugar, will age for many years. Aged Rieslings however do take on definite characteristics of petrol and honey notes. Riesling is among the top three choices by consumers for white varietals next to Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Another item that is interesting is that Rieslings are never oaked.
Though we had a very small turnout at our monthly Grape of the Night (GOTN) meeting, due to the holiday season, we had some fine examples from three different terroirs.
2012 Bernan Griffin – Columbia Washington
· Aroma: Green apples
· Taste: Refreshing with light acidity
J. Koces Zeller Schwartz Katz – Mosel region of Germany
· Aroma: Peach and Honey
· Taste: Glycerin, lower acid and creamy
2011 Firestone Riesling – Central Coast California
· Aroma: Dried peach
· Taste: Glycerin, medium acid, bright fruit, little sweeter, apricot, dried peach and stone fruits
Rieslings are very unique and probably among one of the most misunderstood wines. By this I mean that when you ask people if they would like a glass of Riesling wine most assume that it will be sweet. Though we only had three bottles for the GOTN, it was quite evident that not all Rieslings are sweet. My personal favorite Riesling is Jos. Prum Kabinett from Mosel, Germany. This wine is well balanced in sweetness (though slightly dry), with minerality and a perfect acid balance with apricot being on the nose and palate. Many of these characteristics were seen in the J. Koces Zeller Schwartz Katz, which is also from the Mosel region of Germany, that was poured during our GOTN tasting. There is a fine line between balance of sweetness versus thick and syrupy sweet. The great thing with Rieslings is that they offer various subtypes to allow you to select throughout this range of sweetness and style. If you are pairing with various types of foods this opens the door to a wide range of appetizers, entrees and desserts. One pairing example that may surprise you is that spicy foods go well with a good Riesling.
GOTN Riesling was an experience that opened many eyes on a wine that most of us shy away from thinking they are all sweet. I hope that this tasting enlightened those that came to a new experience with such a fantastic varietal.
I want to thank everyone that attended GOTN Riesling. I hope that the knowledge and excitement about wines and wine knowledge is shared by all. I would like to thank Guy Lelarge for allowing us to enjoy the warm service and hospitality of Valencia Wine Company. Guy and his staff are top notch in my book. Hope to see everyone at our next wine adventure.