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Riesling- This noble grape variety is extremely versatile, making wines from bone dry to lusciously sweet – steely to voluptuous! It can also make superb sparkling wines.
It is aromatic, light in alcohol and can age well for many years in bottle due to its high acidity. Riesling has also been crossed and cloned dozens of times – Müller-Thurgau, Scheurebe and Kerner to name a few.
When young, Riesling usually smells and tastes of fresh lime, whilst riper grapes can result in stone fruit characteristics of peach, apricot and apple, with soft floral notes, most notably honeysuckle. As Riesling ages, it generally develops an aroma of petrol, which can be quite pungent – it’s a smell that Riesling officianados love, but others find rather off-putting!
The Wachau region of Austria makes Rieslings which can display powerful pure fruit and minerality– here the grape may be labelled as Rheinriesling or Weisser Riesling.
An important grape in Alsace, the only region of France where it is allowed to be planted under appellation laws, the wines can be austere and mineral with searing acidity.
Some lovely limey Rieslings are produced in New Zealand, whilst in the cooler climates of Australia - Western Australia, and the Claire and Eden Valleys - a richer, fatter, citrus style is made.
Riesling is also on the increase in the USA (particularly in Washington State), and South Africa.
Because of its susceptibility to noble rot, it is made into dessert styles the world over - a Beerenauslese, Eiswein or Trockenbeerenauslese from Germany or Austria, a Vendange Tardive or Selection de Grains Noble from Alsace, an Antipodean stickie, a late harvest from a new world country– there are plenty to choose from for sweet wine lovers!