Summer Drinking Series: Riesling

by Caroline Tanner

We’re diving into the Lea & Sandeman cellars to find the perfect wines for your glass this summer.

Talk to a sommelier, or a member of the wine trade, and it’s likely that they’re happy to wax lyrical about Riesling. Its ability to age, its amazing versatile food pairing potential, the intensity of flavour it can deliver and the value for money that it can offer, all make a compelling argument for these wines.

Riesling thrives around the world – especially in cooler climates, such as Alsace, Austria, Eden Valley (Australia) and Alto Adige (Italy). However, Germany is the home of Riesling – the grape was first recorded here some 588 years ago, and it is grown in all the country’s thirteen wine regions.Braunewell vineyard

“Riesling 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.”
Jancis Robinson MW, Oxford Companion to Wine

In the vineyards, Riesling delights cool-climate winemakers, as it is resistant to frost, hardy and dependably produces fairly high yields of high quality. It is also noted for its ability to reflect the soil on which it was grown, leading to exciting experimentation with site selection. Riesling also has a high natural acidity, which helps produce wines with enormous ageing potential, although, when the grapes have been ripened sufficiently, the wines are equally delicious in their youth.

Sweetness levels

There is still a lingering suspicion that Riesling will always be sweet. This is not the case! Part of Riesling’s charm is the fact that it can be produced in a huge variety of styles, from the piercingly fresh and bone-dry, to the sticky-sweet and luscious. Most Riesling produced in Germany now is, in fact, dry. But if you’re looking for a clue on the label, search for the word ‘trocken’ (meaning dry) or take a look at the ABV – the rule of thumb here is ‘the higher, the drier’. A wine at 7 or 8% is going to have a lot of unfermented grape sugars, but one at 12% is unlikely to have any left at all.


This July, we’re taking part in the ’31 Days of German Riesling’, the perfect excuse to crack open a bottle or two of this delicious wine. See below for inspiration from our excellent German producers.

Weingut Braunewell, Rheinhessen

Braunewell Team in the CellarFrançois Breiniville fled 17th Century France’s Huguenot persecution to settle in Essenheim, just southwest 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, Braunewell’s RIESLING 2021 (£16.95) is hard to beat: dry, citrus-scented and mouth-wateringly refreshing. A step up, the ESSENHEIM RIESLING 2021 (£21.50) is racy and spicy with an interesting smoky element on the nose. And at the top of the tree is the fantastic TEUFELSPFAD RIESLING 2018 (£25.95) from the ‘Devil’s path’ vineyard – brimming with power, precision and intensity. With flavours of lime and mandarin, with a richness, a saline edge and a clearly defined palate that will no doubt age beautifully.


Weingut Lehnert-Veit, Mosel

Lenhert-Veit teamLocated in the heart of the romantic Mosel, the Lehnert-Viet family has a long tradition of quality winegrowing, dating back to the 1600s. Peter Lehnert is now the 10th generation of the family to take charge of the vineyards. These are spread around their hometown of Piesport, on both banks of the river. To get a sense of what they’re up to, try the mineral, sleek and brightly-juicy SCHIEFER Riesling 2021, from grapes grown on slate soils it is amazingly good value at just £15.95. Lehnert-Veit’s 11 hectares include some of the Mosel’s most prestigious sites: the ‘premier crus’ Falkenberg and Günterslay as well as the jewel in the crown, the ‘grand cru’ vineyard Goldtröpfchen. The PIESPORTER GOLDTRÖPCHEN GG Riesling 2020 (£27.95) is an amazing example of the complexity and depth that this vineyard can offer. Layer upon layer of flavour, with delicate floral overly and a fine-boned, mineral structure that relaxes into a long finish.


Browse our german riesling selection