In keeping with many of us in the wine business, I love the Riesling grape. In many ways, for me, it is the grape. The one I love before all others. If a Riesling is on offer, it always calls to me and it pains me that so many people seem indifferent to its charms.
It follows from this that I like to present Riesling to consumers and hope that my love of the grape variety will rub off on to them. To that end I am always trying to win people round to Riesling. It has to be admitted that my success has been patchy, many people who enjoy other wines seem unable to find the pleasure in a fine Riesling that I do, but I have had some converts recently and it was two particular Rieslings that did it, so I thought that I would share them with you. They are both very different in style, but both are hugely enjoyable as well as being affordable.
If the delights of Riesling have passed you by, will you do me a favour – give it one last try. Today may be the day that you see the Riesling light and these may be the examples that win you round.
Neither of them come from traditional Riesling areas, so the problem that many people seem to have with German wines – memories of cheap non-Riesling versions from the 1970s – should not feature here. Remember too, if these seem a little exotic for you, Alsace Riesling from France is always dry and mineral – I recently tries the superb 2010 Andre Scherer Riesling Réserve Particulière (around £11 a bottle from Les Caves de Pyrène and Le Parc) and it was a joy, bone dry but rich. Much the same could be said for the wonderful, and more mineral 2008 Riesling Federspiel Weissenkirchen from Domäne Wachau, Austria (£10 a bottle from Majestic)
The Waipara (pronounced why-pra) is between Marlborough and Christchurch on the East coast of South Island and is doing great things with a range of different grapes, but especially Riesling. In the Summer it is warmer and drier than Marlborough and Christchurch during the day, so the fruit is very ripe, but the much cooler nights retain the Riesling’s naturally fresh, lively acidity.
This is from 2008, so there is some mineral development on the nose – this makes it just a little bit petrol-like, but the exotic floral perfume is the more dominant. The palate is quite rich with a nectarine / peachy succulence and texture together with flourishes of minerality and fresh, bracing lime and apricot acidity which is balanced by just enough sweetness to tame the acidity and make it an off-dry wine.
This is a terrific wine, nice and rich, but still refreshing and balanced, it would be a lovely aperitif or perfect with a wide array of light dishes and spicy, asian foods – 89/100 points.
£10.44 per bottle from Tesco Wine by the case.
I find this Riesling captivating and not at all what I expected from Riesling in Chile, this is fresh, zesty and lime drenched on the nose with a clean purity that comes from the cool wet conditions of the Bío Bío Valley and suits the grape perfectly. On the palate it was dry and crisp with racy of acidity and clean minerality making your mouth water, but there was loads of fresh grass and exotic, zesty lime and mandarin citrus fruit too with just a touch of more succulent nectarine lurking in the background. Amazingly it carries its 13.5% alcohol perfectly and you simply do not notice it. A lovely dry Riesling – 90/100 points.
£7.60 per bottle from Slurp.co.uk – which seems ridiculously cheap to me.
So there you are, two superb Rieslings to try, both from unlikely places, both easily available in the UK and both offering great value for money. New Zealand has been having a huge amount of success with Riesling in recent years and the Thornbury wine is a lovely example and is a pretty traditional Riesling style, beautifully off-dry. It is not dry, but not sweet as such – the touch of fresh sweetness just fleshes the wine out and balances the high acidity to make it a lovely wine to drink without food or with rich spicy foods.
Chile on the other hand is pretty new to Riesling, but on this showing they could do great things with the grape. The Cono Sur Riesling is crisp and dry and very modern with ripe, tropical and exotic fruit notes throughout. That crisp quality and touch of the exotic makes it a great match with Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine.
Give them a go, they might just be the ones to win you round to Rielsing. If they don’t, well cook with the remainder or send it to me!
I will be leading some tastings of New York Finger Lake wines very soon, so more Rieslings to come…