By Marco Giovanetti –mtltimes.ca
Riesling is one of the three most popular white wine varietals and often one of the best discoveries for many new wine enthusiasts. Riesling is grown in wine regions everywhere but is the dominant grape variety grown in Germany. German Rieslings are considered by many experts the best made, with Alsatian wines nearly on par. Riesling is also grown very successfully in such diverse climates as Austria, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and many places in the U.S., especially the Finger lake District of New York, Michigan, Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California.
Riesling is an aromatic grape variety with flowery, almost perfumed aromas and high acidity, making it one of the most versatile and food-friendly white wines available. It is also highly “terroir-expressive”, meaning that the character of Riesling wines is clearly influenced by the wine’s place of origin. Most Riesling, unlike Chardonnay, does not undergo malolactic fermentation. This helps preserve the tartness and acidic characteristic of the wine that gives Riesling its thirst-quenching quality. Riesling is made in wide variety of styles, aromas, and flavor profiles. It can range from bone dry to seductively sweet in taste, with fragrances ranging from flowers, ripe peaches, tropical fruits, and mineral stone (such as slate or quartz) and, with time, the wine acquires a petrol or orange oil note that can be very pleasing.
Riesling’s versatility makes it an easy-to-pair wine and all-time favorite of new young Sommeliers. Riesling is a versatile wine for pairing with food, because of its balance of sugar and acidity. It can be paired with white fish or pork, and is one of the few wines that can stand up to the stronger flavours and spices of Thai and Chinese cuisine. Serve chilled.
Canada is a major world producer of Riesling. In Ontario, Riesling is commonly used for Icewine Niagara is a major producer of ice wine in general, placing in it par with Germany. Late Harvest wines and some sparkling wines are made with Riesling in Niagara but it is the still wines that hold the lion share of production. Many producers and wine critics will argue that Niagara’s best offerings are coming from the Niagara Escarpment region which comprises the Short Hills Bench, 20 Mile Bench and Beamsville Bench.
In British Columbia, Riesling is also commonly used for the production of Icewine, table wine, and sekt style sparkling wines. The Riesling wines coming out of the Central and Northern parts of the Okanagan Valley get the most international acclaim. Coincidently, the largest acreage of its vines are found in this area. Much of the Southern Okanagan Valley is too warm for quality Riesling, but there are a few pockets here and there that are producing excellent fruit used in both blends and single varietal wines
In Nova Scotia, particularly in the Annapolis Valley region, Riesling has lot of potential, the valley enjoying warm summer days with cool nights and as consequence gives an extended growing season. The Maritime climate weather combined with glacial soils contribute to give the Riesling over there an interesting profile.
Riesling is also a very popular grape in Washington State. It was one of the founding grape varieties dating back to 1967 in the Yakima Valley. Today, Washington has emerged as a world class Riesling growing region with 5,307 acres of Riesling grapes planted, making it the largest Riesling producing region in North America. Columbia Valley’s high summer temperatures, with mean temperatures only slightly higher than Alsace or Germany, provide the opportunity for full-flavored yet elegant wines. These Rieslings tend to be packed with fruit with a distinctive floral style. They also tend to be made in a sweeter style than its European counterparts.
Okanagan Valley 2012, Riesling, Tantalus ( $29.80. SAQ Code: 12456726)
On the nose, aromas that bring to mind dust minerality, silex and smoke. In addition, white grapefruit and lemons and lime in brine. In the mouth, the wine is full body with an intense acidity. Divine saline taste like licking a rock. Austere with a sweet and sour green apple candy finish. Long finale. 93\100. Food Idea: Try it with grilled langoustines sprinkled with sea salt. 95\100.
Washington State 2013, Riesling, Kung Fu Girl, Charles Smith Wines ( $20.05, 11629787)
On the nose, honey with cantaloupe and ripe yellow fruits. In the mouth, medium to full body, good acidity. Flavors bring to mind orange essence. New world style Riesling, on the fruit side. Food Idea: Shrimp and chicken pad thai. 88\100
Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr Riesling Grand Cru Rosacker. ( $26.90. SAQ Code: 00642553)
Very aromatic nose. Nuances of naftaline with lime and golden apple. Strong minerality. In the mouth, full body with a high acidity balanced by a midpalate sweetness. Stoic and austere with a very long persistence. Lovely retronasal flavors that remind me of anis and white balsamic notes. Beautiful clean finish. 93\100. Food Idea: Chicken and goat cheese salad.