Riesling (Vitis vinifera var ‘Riesling’)
A very aromatic vitis vinifera grape variety that originate in the Rhine region of Germany. Pronounced ‘REEce-ling’
Specific Regions where Pinot Noir Grapes Are Grown
Mosel, Germany is known for producing benchmark-level Rieslings; Alsace, France and Austria are also known for producing great wines of this varietal though wines from these regions tend to be extremely dry.
German Rieslings are labelled in accordance to when the grapes were picked to help provide guidance to the wine’s style, and German bottles often have a sweetness indicator. These classifications indicate the sugar level when harvested and fall within the Prädikatswein quality level.
German Prädikatswein Ripeness Levels
- Spätlese (Late Harvest)
- Auslese (Selected Harvest)
- Beerenauslese (Selected Harvest of Ripe Berries)
- Trockenbeerenauslese (Selected Harvest of Dried Berries)
- Eiswein (Ice Wine)
Keep in mind that these categories are ripeness (sugar) levels at the time they were harvested, not the final sugar level after fermentations. Therefore, some of these wines may be vinified dry. Wines that fall into the Cabinet, Spätlese and Auslese can be dry, off-dry or sweet in style. Beerenauslese and higher are all sweet style wines.
Rieslings are widely planted in Australia, parts of the US and in the Canadian Okanagan and Niagara regions, though flavour and sweetness of wines from these areas can vary greatly depending on individual growing seasons and by a vintner’s fermentation process.
Synonyms of the Riesling Wine Varietal
Do not confuse the following grape variety names with Riesling. Although they look like synonyms, the are not the Riesling varietal: Welschriesling (unrelated), Schwarzriesling (Pinot Meunier), Cape Riesling (Crouchen), Gray Riesling (Trousseau Gris)
Experience / Tasting Profile Of Riesling Grape Variety
Appearance of Riesling Wine
Young Riesling is generally, pale with greenish-yellow hues present. Aged Riesling turns to a beautiful golden colour with more intensity.
Aroma, Flavours & Mouthfeel of Riesling Wine
Well-known for a complex, and extremely fragrant bouquet of fruit and floral smells and often expected to be quite sweet; however, Rieslings are actually quite varied in their sweetness; a good indicator of a Riesling’s sweetness is the alcohol level: rieslings higher than 12% alcohol (in general) will be dryer, while rieslings under 12% alcohol should be sweeter.
Flavours should be intense and crisp, with a juicy mouth-feel, combined with floral undertones and hints of minerality. Cool-climate Rieslings will present flavours of citrus, green apple, peach, apricot, mango and guava, whereas warmer-grown Rieslings will present more “warm flavours” of melon and other tropical fruit.
Rieslings are rarely oaked; instead steel containers are used during fermentation to ensure that the fruit flavours of the grapes are carried forward rather than being masked by flavours of oak and tannins from the barrel.
The Terroir of the Riesling Grape Varietal: In What Conditions Does Riesling Grow?
The Grapes are vibrant green-to-yellow and are slow growing and need an extended period on the vine to reach full ripeness. The vine itself however, is easy to grow and quite tolerant to a range of conditions. The Riesling varietal grows best in cool to mild climates and produces medium-to-high yields later in the season than other varieties. Riesling grapes are also susceptible to botrytis which often lends them to becoming decadent dessert wines.