Riesling is one of the oldest German grape varieties and it is without question the wine lovers wine, I have yet to meet a sommelier, wine maker or wine expert who doesn’t adore it, yet the general public tends to be really suspicious of it. So why? To those in the know they see Riesling as a complex, aromatic, delicious wine which ages exceptionally well, however the general public seems to believe that all Rieslings are sweet and nasty. I think we should place the blame firmly at the feet of Blue Nun which was indeed very sweet and ever so nasty!
Despite the stereotype, not all Rieslings are sweet, in fact quite a few of them are dry or off dry. Also as Riesling tends to have high acid and where you have higher acid you have a lowered perception of sweetness. Riesling also goes with pretty much any food, but goes especially well with spicy food like Indian or Thai.
Cork dorks like myself, well we just go crazy for Riesling, and even more so when it's been aged. The smell of a good quality aged Riesling is unmistakable, it smells like Kerosene or petrol, as strange as it may seen, that's a good thing for Riesling lovers....ok, I can see how that might take a bit of convincing but in the meantime lets more onto my top Riesling picks.
My first pick is from Central Otago and is the driest of the three with 7.4% residual sugar, the Bannockbrae Dry Riesling is from a small boutique winery in Bannockburn and has flavours and aromas of : Lime, honeysuckle, crisp granny smith apple and stonefruit. This wine has so much going on but all of it is good! I recently enjoyed this with Thai Food & it was perfection & only $22. Contact Bannockbrae directly to order.
A little bit sweeter at 11.5% residual sugar the Johner Estate 2016 Riesling from the Wairarapa has all the hallmarks of a Riesling that will most definitely age well, it's also made by German winemakers The Johners and it has to be said if there is a country that knows its Riesling, it is most definitely the Germans. This wine has smells like orange blossom but flavours of peach and lime with just a hint of honey. Drink it now at $24 a bottle or buy a case and cellar some to see how well it will age & improve.
Misha’s Vineyard “LimeLight” Riesling is from Bendigo in Central Otago and is the sweetest of my picks at 33grams of residual sugar, which makes it technically medium but one of the best quality. All of Misha's wines are single vineyard & hand harvested and I have yet to find one that isn't delicious. Available widely for $28 this Riesling has flavours of lime, lemon zest and flint, making it quite a typical expression of the New Zealand style of Riesling. Another wine with great balance of sweet and acidity making it destined to age well.
I really hope that some of you try some of my picks and realise there is nothing to fear when it comes to Riesling! If you're not sure of the sweetness level, do ask the retail assistant for their help. A well trained staff member will know what's what. Also don't be afraid to try something a little sweeter if you are having spicy food as the spice in your meal will offset the sweetness in the wine.
Click the link below to hear my full Riesling chat on RadioLIVE with Leah Panapa