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31 Days of Riesling
Riesling is often described as being one of the greatest and most diverse grape varietals on the market. Although it originated from Germany, it has found many homes in different climates in every corner of the world. Its naturally aromatic flavour profile, and high acidity gives the wine an (almost) unparalleled ability to come in an array of sweetness levels, from completely bone dry to lusciously sweet… and everything in between. These varying sweetness levels make riesling a perfect accompaniment to a whole array of different cuisines – from spicy curries, fried chicken or even to have alongside grilled fish dishes. With versatility like this it is no wonder that Riesling is often cited as the favourite grape by some of the industry’s leading sommeliers. In addition to its versatility, the acidity, intense flavour profile and ability to carry residual sugar gives the finest examples of this grape extreme longevity in the best vintages – making it one of the best white wines to cellar for collectors!
New York State, USA, Forge Cellars
When thinking of classic regions in USA you may be forgiven for overlooking New York State, but in recent years this little known wine region has gone from making small production around the Finger Lakes for local consumption to gaining a reputation for quality wine making around the world. This is a beautiful bone dry style of Riesling and is a blend of 16 different plots of land which are all farmed organically and sustainably. With only one acre of land being devoted to Riesling quantities are always limited. In this excellent wine you will find a dry level of sweetness, a wonderful flinty minerality showcasing the Finger Lakes unique terroir, as well as a delicious fruit profile of mango, apricot and chamomile. This estate loves nothing more than to give back, and they are currently working to help support restaurants in New York State through the current pandemic. Try a new region for £27.50
Marlborough, New Zealand, Blank Canvas
Riesling may not be the first grape that comes to mind when thinking of New Zealand white wines, but the maritime climate and high levels of UV rays give the wines made here their characteristic bright fruit and crisp acid. In fact the Maori name for Marlborough, where this wine is made, directly translates to “the place with the hole in the cloud”, referring to the almost excessive amount of sunshine this part of New Zealand receives! The offering from Blank Canvas is certainly on the sweeter side of what Riesling has to offer, but its fresh acidity allows this sweeter style of wine to finish dry. Find delicious notes of lemon, honeysuckle and old fashioned lemonade in this bottle. This would be perfect with tropical fruit tart, foie gras or as an accompaniment to blue cheese. Its not just us who love this wine, as it has been reviewed by many Masters of Wine including Julia Harding MW and Bob Campbell MW and consistently scored above 90 points. If you have a sweet tooth, or simply just want to try something new, it wont disappoint at only £16.70.
Clare Valley, Australia, Grosset
Clare Valley is one of the most classic regions for bone dry Riesling. These wines have a reputation for being of extremely high quality and some of the best examples have longevity only paralleled by the viticultural elite. Lying in the northernmost limit of Barossa in sunny South Australia these wines are planted on hard slate soils around the Polish Hill River which is where this legendary Clare Valley example originates from. The altitude of the region means that the diurnal swing allows the wine to preserve its freshness. The vines produce mineral rich austere examples of Riesling with notes of fresh flowers, lemon, lime and scintillating steely acidity. This is one of the great names of Australian wines, consistently getting reviewed at 95+ points by some of the worlds greatest wine critics such as Tyson Stelzer. With age, the acidity integrates and the lemon-lime characteristic mellows into beautiful toastiness after a few years in bottle. This particular example from Grosset can reach up to twenty years of bottle age, but with its balanced fruit profile can also be approached now. £38.50
Kamptal, Austria, Waldschutz
The wines of Austria are incredibly fashionable – with the world discovering the wondrous dry aromatic varieties. Although the Wachau region of Austria gets the most praise and attention, the picturesque region of Kamptal is a source of outstanding quality and yet still offering good value for money. The region is slightly warmer than Wachau, and therefore offers a greater diversity of grape planting, but still showing that great concentration of flavour that has made Wachau so popular around the world. Waldschutz is a family operated vineyard that is focused on working in harmony with nature – in their own words “What nature does not allow, we can not force”. With such a mindset, the vines here produce incredibly focused wines with peach and intense minerality with refreshing acidity. Perfect with grilled white meat or fish on a hot day! Only £17.50
Rheinhessen, Germany, Peth Wetz
Although the stereotypical German Riesling is much sweeter, there has been a movement over the last couple of decades towards a drier style. This is in response to a global demand for drier styles of wine in general. Rheinhessen is one of the most forward thinking and most progressive wine regions in Germany – much in contrast to the Liebfraumilch that they were churning out until the turn of the century! This region is home to many young, highly motivated, talented and well travelled winemakers who are not afraid to push boundaries and try new interpretations of the grape. Peth Wetz is an exciting vineyard owned by Christian Peth and his wife Maja Luise who makes exceptional wines that challenge how we think about Riesling. This dry vegan friendly wine sees time on the lees as well as being unfiltered. These two factors give the wine incredible texture and an unparalleled broadness on the palate. This wine gives creamy notes of grapefruit and pear, it is delicate but still with great intensity of flavour. In the ever evolving world of wine, this bold new take on German Riesling is quickly becoming ‘the new normal’. £19.50
Molsheim (Wolxheim), Alsace, Domaine Lissner
There is a such a strong Germanic influence in Alsace, that when walking the streets you could easily be forgiven for forgetting you’re actually in France. Traditionally wines of this area a drier style of wine, although with global warming some producers are beginning to leave just a touch of residual sugar. Just as in Burgundy, the Grand Cru sites in Alsace are ranked, not the producer, so there can be many producers all farming the same plot of land. However, these grand cru and lieut dit labelled wines are often capable of long term ageing and can offer great quality and excitement for a fraction of the cost of many other regions. Lissner has a great reputation for such long lived wines, and the Wolxheim grand cru is often cited as requiring nearly a decade of bottle age to begin to approach its potential. Patience rewards however, as when it reaches its potential it is unquestionably profound. Bruno Schoegel utilises biodynamic winemaking techniques, and often says he likes to “allow the wine to make itself” by using wild yeast fermentations and not adding sulphur. For those willing to wait, the 2016 is currently available for only £27.00