Posted by: Hailey | February 19, 2010

Riesling- Germany’s standout varietal!

Riesling is a white grape variety which originates in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually made as single varietal wines and are rarely influenced by oak. Riesling is a variety which is highly “terroir-expressive”, meaning that the character of Riesling wines is clearly influenced by the wine’s place of origin.

In 2006, Riesling was the most grown variety in Germany with 20.8% and 21,197 hectares (52,380 acres). There are also significant plantings of Riesling in France, Austria, Luxembourg, northern Italy, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, South Africa, China and Ukraine. In the countries where it is cultivated, Riesling is most commonly grown in colder regions and locations.

Originating in German soil, today Riesling is Germany’s leading grape variety, known for its characteristic “transparency” in flavor and presentation of terroir, and its balance between fruit and mineral flavors. In Germany, Riesling normally ripens between late September and late November, and late harvest Riesling can be picked as late as January.

Three common characteristics of German Riesling are that they are rarely blended with other varietals, hardly ever exposed to commercial yeast and usually never exposed to oak flavor (despite some vintners fermenting in “neutral” oak barrels). To this last item there is an exception with some vinters in the wine regions of Palatinate (Pfalz) and Baden experimenting with new oak aging. The warmer temperatures in those regions produce heavier wines with a higher alcohol content that can better contend with the new oak. While clearer in individual flavors when it is young, a German Riesling will harmonize more as it ages, particularly around ten years of age.

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