Time to drink German Riesling – Es ist Zeit, Riesling zu trinken!

by Andrew Hooper

Is there anything finer than a glass of Riesling? To many in the wine trade a noble Riesling is a thing of beauty to be valued, adored and written lyrically of, and drunk with suitable reverence. Outside the trade, the wider wine drinking public remains to be entirely convinced, although early signs of a Riesling renaissance are welcome.

The Mosel

There is a lingering suspicion that Riesling will be sweet – a legacy from a less enlightened time. No it won鈥檛. These days your bottle of Riesling will be as crisp and dry as any other dry white you might choose to run off home with. Well, most of the time. Rieslings do come in off-dry, really not that dry and quite sweet too, it鈥檚 wonderful in any fashion, but the usual will be dry; the default to adopt is that your bottle of Riesling will be dry unless you know otherwise. A useful word to know here is trocken*, the German word for 鈥榙ry鈥 – if you see the word trocken on the label, you鈥檙e OK it鈥檚 a dry one.

鈥淩iesling is the great vine variety of Germany and could claim to be the finest white grape variety in the world on the basis of the longevity of its wines and their ability to transmit the characteristics of a vineyard without losing Riesling’s own inimitable style.鈥
Jancis Robinson MW, Oxford Companion to Wine

With an appreciative nod to our Antipodean cousins and their work in the field, if you want great Riesling it鈥檚 a good idea to look at Germany.

Weingut Braunewell
Fran莽ois Breiniville fled 17th Century France’s Huguenot persecution to settle in Essenheim, just south west of Mainz. Over 300 years later his descendants are crafting charming wines in the heart of the Rheinhessen. For simple zippy delight and cracking value, the RIESLING 2016 Trocken Weingut Braunewell (拢12.95) is brisk with nice mandarin and peach fruit with bright lip-smacking acidity keeping it super refreshing – great aperitif, or with lighter slightly spicy foods, or with idle chit chat and friends. At the top of the tree is the majestic TEUFELSPFAD RIESLING 2014 Trocken Weingut Braunewell (拢24.50) from the 鈥楧evil鈥檚 path鈥 vineyard – mineral, taut, as bracing as a sea breeze with depth and subtlety and the ability to age a wee while in the cellar.

Weingut Bamberger
The Nahe valley doesn鈥檛, perhaps, have the same popular cachet as the Rhine or the Mosel, but there are some great wines coming from the region, not least those from Heiko and Ute Bamberger at Meddersheim. For sheer Rieslingly Rieslingness, they don鈥檛 come much better than their MONZINGER FR脺HLINGSPL脛TZCHEN 2014 Riesling Trocken Weingut Bamberger (拢13.95) bold, intense and full of character but ultimately dry and clean and ridiculously moorish. Those brave enough to decry the 鈥榙ry dry dry鈥 mantra of modern times will find much joy in the PLAISIR 2014 Riesling Weingut Bamberger (拢13.50) which balances the rich oiliness of a nice simple Riesling with just a touch of sweetness – it鈥檚 an absolute delight for simple easy drinking and, at 11.5% abv can be drunk guilt-free even on a school night.

Hermann D枚nnhoff
Also from the Nahe and, again, from a family estate with a long history is the pretty RIESLING 2014 Qba Hermann D枚nnhoff (拢14.95), a charming and gently off-dry Riesling with pretty peach and nectarine fruit.

The Petri Family

The Petri Family

Weingut Petri
Maximilian Petri’s has 14 hectares around the village of Herxheim am Berg in the Rheinpfalz, 200 metres above sea level on a foothill of the 鈥淗aardt鈥 mountains which are, essentially, an extension of the Vosges mountains in Alsace. KALSTADTER SAUMAGEN 2015 Sp盲tlese Trocken Weingut Petri (拢14.95) is an interesting example of modern German wine. The word 鈥榮p盲tlese鈥 means 鈥榣ate harvest鈥 and used to be practically a guarantee of sweetness, but Petri鈥檚 Kalstadter is fermented out to dryness (hence 鈥楾rocken鈥) with the extra sugar from the riper grapes presenting as more body and richness. This is a lovely food Riesling coping even with quite grand dinners.

July is 31 Days of German Riesling Month – they say it takes 30 days to acquire a habit so with a little teutonic definition, what better time to gaze across the LEA & SANDEMAN range in search of good German Riesling. Happy hunting.

*ah, but not when it says trockenbeerenauslese when it鈥檚 quite the opposite. Nobody said linguistics (and German linguistics at that) was easy. Fortunately trockenbeerenausleses are not only hard to pronounce but they鈥檙e quite rare too so the confusion is unlikely to arise.

You can browse our whole German Riesling selection on our website:

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