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The Riesling Grape

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About Riesling

(Synonyms: Beregi Riesling, Beyaz Riesling, Biela Grasevina, Dinca Grasiva Biela, Edelriesling, Edle Gewuerztraube, Feher Rajnai, Gentil Aromatique, Gentile Aromatique, Gewuerzriesling, Gewuerztraube, Graefenberger, Graschevina, Grasevina Rajnska, Grauer Riesling, Grobriesling, Hochheimer, Johannisberg, Johannisberger, Karbacher Riesling, Kastellberger, Kis Rizling, Kleigelberger, Kleiner Riesling, Kleinriesler, Kleinriesling, Klingelberger, Krauses, Krausses Roessling, Lipka, Moselriesling, Niederlaender, Oberkircher, Oberlaender, Petit Rhin, Petit Riesling, Petracine, Pfaelzer, Pfefferl, Piros Rajnai Rizling, Pussilla, Raisin Du Rhin, Rajinski Rizling, Rajnai Rizling, Rajnski Ruzling, Rano, Reichsriesling, Reissler, Remo, Rendu, Reno, Renski Rizling, Rezlik, Rezlin, Rezlink, Rhein Riesling, Rheingauer, Rheinriesling, Rhiesling, Riesler, Riesling Bianco, Riesling blanc, Riesling De Rhin, Riesling Echter Weisser, Riesling Edler, Riesling Gelb Mosel E43, Riesling Giallo, Riesling Grosso, Riesling Gruener Mosel, Riesling Mosel, Riesling Reinskii, Riesling Rhenan, Riesling Rhine, Rieslinger, Rislinenok, Rislinok, Rizling Linner, Rizling Rajinski, Rizling Rajnai, Rizling Rajnski, Rizling Reinskii, Rizling Rynsky, Roessling, Rohac, Rossling, Rosslinger, Ruessel, Ruessling, Russel, Ryn-Riesling, Ryzlink Rynsky, Starosvetske, Starovetski, Szuerke Rizling, Uva Pussila, Weisser Riesling.)


Map showing the Rhine river.

Riesling is a white-wine grape originating in the Rhine Valley of Germany. It is generally considered one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class white-wine grapes (those in boldface in the varietals list to the left of the page); in fact, many wine experts would class Riesling the greatest wine grape in the world, ahead of such red superstars as Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon—despite which it gets little respect in the U.S., being widely regarded as simply cheap, simple, sweet plonk.

The Riesling grape is naturally a very high-acid grape, which means that when properly vinified, it can not merely withstand bottle age, but continue to develop and improve, sometimes for many decades. The high acid, combined with high natural sugars, makes possible a very evenly-balanced wine, which can well display the rich and deep flavors also natural to the grape.

Riesling wines are typically highly aromatic, with complex and profound floral scents in the nose, which also appear in the taste. Moreover, it is a wine that is quite apt at displaying the much-prized quality of terroir (at least when respectfully vinified). Curiously, fine Rieslings also exhibit a quality commonly described as "petrol", which does not sound at all appetizing but which somehow, in Rieslings, manages to be so (though some wine drinkers are so repelled by the idea that mention of it as a Riesling characteristic is being downplayed by makers, some of whom even strive to minimize or eliminate it, despite the harm they thereby do to the overall flavor, character, and age-worthiness of their wines).

Riesling is very rarely blended, and almost as rarely sees any oak (save occasionally some "neutral" oak). It is never made as a "woody" wine.

The biggest problem Riesling presents to the consumer is its sweetness: not how sweet it is or isn't, but knowing how sweet it is or isn't. Rieslings can be and are vinified everywhere from bone dry (especially in Alsatia) to dessert-sweet (many German wineries produce a veritable host of Riesling bottlings, differing chiefly in their sweetness), and it was long a problem for shoppers, even with a bottle in hand to inspect, to try to determine which sort they might be dealing with. Especially for Old World Rieslings is this difficult: Goethe famously remarked that "Life is too short to drink poor wine," leading Martin Amis to wittily remark something to the effect that a German wine label is another thing life's too short for. Fortunately, in recent years an organization called the International Riesling Foundation came up with a uniform sweetness-labelling scheme that now adorns many bottles of Riesling. Its essence is four levels of sweetness: Dry; Medium Dry; Medium Sweet; and Sweet. But if you encounter bottles not so labelled, here's a clue: look at the alcohol content. If the alcohol is 11% or under, the wine is definitely off dry; if it is 13% or above, the wine is dry; if it is from 11% to 13%, the sweetness is probably proportionately along the spectrum ("probably" because other factors influence the perception of sweetness in a wine).

(Recall that alcohol is produced by the fermentation of the sugars in the raw grape juice; the more alcohol there is in the final wine, the more of the original sugars that were fermented away. There is a good, detailed discussion of the sweetness of Rieslings at the German Wine Lover site, and another at the StarChefs site.)

Note that label notes other than those set forth by the IRF are chancey guides at best; many an American-made Riesling labelled "dry" would go best with the dessert course. Nor are the classic Germanic "ripeness" terms (Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, and so forth), even if you memorize them, much help, because the ripeness only indicates the potential of the grapes—a given vintner can vinify a given lot of grape juice as he or she pleases, making (for example) a "Spätlese" that is actually drier than a "Kabinett", though the Spätlese juice was originally higher in sugars. In the end, the consumer must, if there is no IRF mark available, go by the alcohol content and, ideally, by the reputation of the wine (which requires some foresight and study). Even if you have an appetite for all levels of sweetness, you still want to know which one you're going to get on a given day.

Rieslings are today made all over the world, over a huge range of both style and quality. In the U.S., its history has been a sad one. An early flood of Rieslings, made simple and sweet and cheap, firmly planted the image of Riesling as a cheapo wine; today, winemakers who want to make wines that live up to the potential of the grape fight an uphill battle, because many consumers simply will not pay more than a few dollars for a bottle of "that cheap goop". The tide is starting to turn, but progress so far is glacial. (Those of an age will recall the same thing having happened to the excellent noble grape Chenin Blanc.)

Riesling does well in cool climates, thriving where other "noble" grapes might struggle, and so has ben popular in regions with limited climatic possibilities for wine. Probably the most important Riesling sources today are, more or less but not exactly in this order, Germany, the Alsace region of France, Austria, Australia and New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada, though those are far from all. There is no definite pattern associating style with region, but broadly speaking the middle-European makers tend to go for dry Rieslings, while new World makers tend to style a bit off dry. The regional wines also vary a deal owing to the differing soils in which they are grown, the wine being, as already noted, excellent at conveying terroir. Not many makers are producing the great Rieslings that want one or more decades of aging to approach their full potential, but there are probably more Alsatians of that sort than in the other regions.

If one relies on Wikipedia, these are (always painting with a very broad brush) the regional characteristics:

Again a caution: those are rough rules of thumb with, no doubt, countless exceptions.

Factoid: Riesling has its own producer society, the International Riesling Foundation, whose web site is a useful resource on the subject.

Some Descriptions of Riesling Wines

Some Rieslings to Try

(About this list.)

Owing to the variety of types and regions, our list is a bit longer than usual—yet still took a lot of pruning to get to size. We have included examples from eight Riesling regions (three lying in the U.S.); that still must miss a number of regional variations in the overseas sources, but it's something to be going on with. By and large, we tried to favor dry versions in making the list, but there may still be some more or less off-dry samples.

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
Pikes "Traditionale" Riesling
(Clare Valley, Australia.)

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Opened in a bracket of five 2013 Clare Valley Rieslings, and tasted pretty quickly, on the basis that first impressions are usually the most important ... Slight bottle stink then jasmine, lemon and lime with a juicy burst of citrus flavour set in a firm and lightly chalky/slatey palate. Doesn’t lose its way at any stage on its journey to the back of the palate – lemon tang and spice to farewell. Crunchy, tasty and authoritative all at once. A winner.' 94/100

The 28th consecutive release of this wine and it seems only last week I raved about the 27th. Gorgeous, perfumed aromas of lime, orange blossom and apricot lead to more citrus flavours with a light touch of tropical fruit. Concentrated and subtle, it’s dry and chalky, with a vein of citrus acidity that offers racy drive and power, along with a long finish. Delicious. 5/5

♣ Canberra International Riesling Challenge (2013), Trophy 'Best Australian Riesling' w/Top Gold & 96/100 score

♣ International Wine Cellar (date unknown), 92 points

♣ Wine Spectator (date unknown), 91 points

The '12 vintage had one overarching feature of high quality riesling in its traditional strongholds of the Clare and Eden Valleys, yet its expression varied considerably from one maker to the next. Here lime juice flavours leap out of the glass, coating the mouth, yet supported by fine acidity.

Pale lemon with high floral notes, citrus and pineapple on the nose. Minerally palate with approachable acidity, lively lemon-lime peel freshness with good depth of passionfruit richness. Racy and fresh on the finish.

Bright straw. Vibrant, mineral-accented aromas of orange, pear skin and white flowers, with a gingery topnote. Dry and sharply focused, offering incisive citrus fruit and floral flavors that are underscored by chalky minerality. Finishes dry and long, with resonating orange zest and jasmine qualities. 12% alcohol here.

Elderflower, lime cordial, savoury and baked lemon nose. Very stylish wine that is really well proportioned. Loaded with flavour and beautiful purity, this is tropical, lively and refreshing. Alc: 12%. (19.08 points)

Light and silky, with pretty pear and quince flavors set on a delicate frame that lets the finish play out with finesse. Shows depth and delicacy.

Chateau Ste. Michelle "Eroica" Riesling
(Columbia Valley, U.S.A. Do not confuse this with their upscale Eroica "Gold".)

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Taking its accustomed place at the head of the class as it has in so many past vintages, this latest rendition from Chateau Ste. Michelle and Ernst Loosen is a remarkable wine of impeccable balance and stunning depth. Slightly sweet and buoyed by fine fruity acids, it smells of honeysuckle, white peaches and minerals and follows with long, compact, layered flavors that presently only hint at the richness to come. Top-notch Riesling is capable of great beauty and complexity with age, and, we have no doubt that the greatness lurking here will gradually become more and more evident with time. GOOD VALUE 95 points

♣ Wine Advocate (June 2008), 91 Points, Smart Buy

♣ International Wine Cellar (June 2008), 90 Points

Bright and juicy, with bracing acidity against lightly sweet, expressive pear, apricot and quince aromas and flavors, remaining vibrant as the finish persists.

I don't like to play favorites, but I can't help but gush over today's bottle, the 2011 Eroica Riesling, a superlative vintage from Washington state. Begat out of a partnership between two prominent Riesling producers (Dr. Loosen of Germany and Chateau Ste. Michelle of Washington state), this Washington-bred white marries the best qualities of the pair, resulting in a complex and eminently drinkable wine. Its intensely crisp and fruity perfume (think citrus and white peach) is well balanced by lingering minerality and moderate acidity on the tongue. While this bottle isn't cheap per se, it's an excellent value, and a bottle that I'd happily pay more than its moderate price tag for.

[It] is up-front accessible and suitable for easy sipping. A cooler growing season rendered a piercing acidity – core to any quality Riesling – that extends an inviting hand to food pairings and boosts intensity in the glass. There’s enough limey tartness and minerality to round out the grape’s cloying tendencies, delivering it from the too-sweet rap that fixates a lot of drinkers. That’s not to say it’s an experiment in austerity. Not even close. While there is a lean frame to the wine, it unfurls with ripe aromas, fruit and a spicy bite.

The 2007 Eroica Riesling, made in collaboration with the Dr. Loosen estate in Germany’s Mosel region, is light to medium straw-colored with fragrant aromas of spring flowers, mineral, and honeysuckle. Crisp and just off-dry, in a Kabinett style, it delivers flavors of melon and pineapple. The wine is balanced and vibrant and may well evolve for several years in the manner of a top German Mosel Kabinett. It can be enjoyed now and over the next 5-7 years.

Pale greenish straw yellow. Aromatic with white peach and floral notes on both the nose and palate. Dry and medium-bodied with very crisp acidity. Well-balanced with a very long, refreshing finish. Residual Sugar: 1.66% Quality: 4 stars (out of 5) QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)

From a dynamite vintage [2007] this is the delicious off-dry Riesling offspring born of a partnership between two prominent Riesling estates, Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington and Germany's Dr. Loosen from the famed Mosel wine growing region. Guaranteed to be a palate pleaser from start to finish, the Eroica Riesling brings beautiful balance, unmatched elegance and food-friendly acidity to every sip.

I’ve tried the Eroica Riesling a few times before — it’s consistent ever year. There’s definitely more residual sugar in this wine than in [a comparison Old World] Riesling, though. I swim upstream on Riesling, and prefer a bone-dry style, so my nod went to the [Old World Riesling]. The nose on the Eroica is more subdued, a big whiff of peach cobbler. Flavors are green apple and key lime pie with trace mineral notes. Well balanced acidity.

Mönchhof Urzig Wurzgarten Kabinett Riesling
(Urzig, Germany.)

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♣ This wine is at least off-dry and arguably semi-sweet or even more.

The Mönchhof style tends towards richness and sweetness, and this wine is no exception. That said, it’s not overdone, blending the lightness of flower-shop greenery with notes of berry and citrus. Finishes long, with echoes of pineapple and crushed stone. 90 points

Light yellow in color, the wine is similar to the Estate Riesling, displaying a beautiful floral bouquet, accented with apple, peach, spice and slate. The pure fruit is slightly sweet and showing more concentration and richness and a longer finish –- Highly Recommended Plus.

♣ Wine Spectator (February 2012), 91 points

This has an enticing lushness and good concentration to its Bosc pear, Fuji apple and black currant flavors. Racy acidity backs it all up and carries through to the rich, spicy finish.

Lush, decadent ripe stone fruit aroma with a delicate floral note; rich and concentrated with lovely ripe honeyed fruit flavors.

Our best value was the Ürziger Würzgarten from Mönchhof, which showed great balance between fruit, minerality and acidity.

Scents included oil, vegetables, apples and pears. We tasted the vegetables, oil and sugar on a heavy palate. It was very floral, with tastes of spiced pears and pineapples. My panelists were split on whether they liked this wine. Tasting somewhat like a gewurztraminer, this wine was heavy with good acids.

Peach, apple and quince with some lime on the finish and zippy acidity. A great wine for the price

Leth "Felser Weinberge" Riesling
(Wagram, Austria.)

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Medium green-yellow. Inviting fragrance of pineapple and passion fruit drizzled with lime blossom honey. These aromas open generously in the mouth and are joined by peach, mango and grapefruit zest. Refreshing acidity is nicely integrated into the wine's medium body, but the finish could use more length. Leaves behind traces of honey, wet rock and citrus fruit.

Medium green-yellow. Captivating aromas of ripe peach, apricot, pineapple, apple blossom and lime zest. Racy acidity toys with the sweet extract and wet-slate minerality adds nuance. Mouthwatering finish.

♣ Wine Spectator (date unknown), 89 points

♣ International Wine Cellar (date unknown), 90 points

♣ Falstaff Wine Guide [German] (date unknown), 93 points

The Felser Weinberge have a gravelly soil with high iron oxide content, giving the soil a reddish tint. The 2009 Riesling has a floral aroma with a very dominant pear character. The pear is also quite pronounced on the palate, but balanced by more minerality. Medium length with a spicy and floral finish, which nicely echoes the aroma.

Leth 2006 Riesling Felser Weinberge (90 points)
Notes: Nose: caramelized apricot nose, slight botrytis, apple pie, limestone minerality, toast. Palate: roasted chestnut, peach pie (Ken, 95 points)
Notes: Color: straw. Aroma with notes of diesel fuel and some other untoward quality not readily drinkable. Acid low, alcohol high, generic in flavor (Matt, 80 points)

Spicy and floral, amazing wine.

A lively, light, dancing wine that is lifted by acidity, white fruits, crisp currants and a touch of pepper. Enjoyable, fresh, vibrant and great as an apéritif. 87 points

[T]he Leth 2009 Riesling Reserve Felser Weinberge was stunning with the zucchini blossoms. Here, zinging acidity trumps the residual sugar you find in Mosel (Germany) Rieslings . . . This wine is bone-dry, crisp and refreshing, and ideal for the more intense and spicy flavors . .  But with a restrained 12.5 percent alcohol (however higher than the typical alcohol content you find in sweeter, German Rieslings), I didn't hesitate to order a second glass to quench my thirst after scarfing down those zucchini blossoms.

The nose is subtle showing ripe pear, some waxiness, a hint of spiciness and petrol minerality. Open knit and slightly sweetish on the palate with a bit of lemony acid on the finish. Excellent length. This was my last bottle, and it is starting to lose its vibrancy. [2000 vintage] My Rating: 92 when first drunk in 2002, now down to 90 [in 2004].

Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling
(Finger Lakes, U.S.A. This is not the more expensive Reserve bottling, nor the "Semi-Dry".)

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Surprisingly, I tasted my first Wiemer Riesling just about a year ago and again a few months ago I enjoyed a few glasses of the 2010 Dry Riesling, so I was very elated to find this one [2011] available so soon. Aromas of orange zest, some citrus and a little grapefruit were very aromatic, but I failed to get any of the mineral aromas I have become accustomed to in Finger Lakes wines. There was a hint of that mineral in the mouth with lots of grapefruit and some sugar plum and key lime pie. A very soft mouth feel and an extraordinary long smooth finish. Not your typical Finger Lakes Riesling, but a World Class Riesling. . . [T]he Hermann J. Wiemer 2011 Dry Riesling is a standard that will be hard to beat. Very Highly Recommended.

As we recall, 2012 was a fairly warm vintage albeit with very cool night temperatures during the fall which helped retain the acidity in the grapes. Medium intensity of stone fruit aroma with a strong sense of minerality. Ripe and clean. Dry on the palate, medium alcohol and body. Medium(+) acidity. Medium intensity of yellow apple flavor, citrus and stones. Medium(+) length. What would be the right word - accomplished? The 2012 Dry Riesling tastes as if it had already spent a year in bottle. It is quite refined and perfectly balanced, even has an elegant touch of bitterness on top of the ripe fruit flavors. A very, very enjoyable Riesling under $20.

This pale yellow colored Riesling opens with a mild tangerine like bouquet with a hint of banana. On the palate, this wine is light bodied, balanced and very east to enjoy. The flavor profile is a gentle green pear with hints of mild peach and white pepper. The finish is dry and its flavors fade away nicely. This dry styled Riesling is very food friendly.

Apple, floral blossoms with lemon and lime on the nose. The palate starts with bright tangerine, lemon flavors followed by crisp green apple notes on a backbone of crushed rock. A firm mineral, citrusy acidity lasts through to the finish which is long and lingering. A beauty, so refreshing and just the slightest hint sweet (0.9% RS) to add a pleasant richness to the palate. Mouthwatering to the last drop which you are sad to see go. This one is worthy of a case buy if I can find it.

Fred Merwarth, the talented winemaker who took over from the founder a few years ago, produces a highly consistent and delicious range of rieslings, using a natural and well-reasoned approach that gives the wines a clear and crisp expression, faithful to the German style that has characterized the winery since the beginning. This 2009 Dry Riesling is . . . from a vintage that produced structured, high-acid wines. It is another successful cuvée, with a beautiful citrusy and slightly floral nose, great freshness and yet a lot of substance, mineral character and weight. Hard to resist now, it will develop well over many years. Highly recommended.

[I]t had a sleek texture and translucent golden hue with a flavor that strikes me as indulgently ripe with the fine precision of their earlier harvested Riesling. A foot in both worlds, a flavor in another place entirely. In a good way, though, with a honeyed edge brimming with orange zest and a persistently peachy undertone all alongside a zippy acidity keeping us on our toes in the wee hours of the night. An easy drinker, like the rest, somewhat stilted in complexity for now and a bit harsh, but I’m confident that this can only improve with time. Its airy, acidic nose with mineral-heavy, saline base notes tantalized me more than its flavor, but it still carries the classic Wiemer Riesling profile of lime, apricot, orange, and salt. A wonderful combination if done well.

Winemaker Fred Merwarth makes seven different rieslings, including two single-vineyard wines, a late harvest, a TBA-style, a Reserve and then two "regular" bottlings. This is one of those "regular" wines, and it's delicious. It seems silly to call it "regular" really. The nose is somewhat floral with light petrol notes, but it's dominated by that classic peach-lime-wet stone combination I've noticed in many of the Finger Lakes' best rieslings. If you want to know what "a typical Finger Lakes riesling" smells like, this is it. The feather-light palate is alive with citrusy acidity -- more than many 2007s -- that more than balances the .9% residual sugar. Peach and lime flavors dominate here, with white flowers and super-subtle sweet herbs behind. The petrol notes from the nose are barely noticeable on palate, but there is a terrific minerally vein throughout. A long, peachy finish ends with a citrus zest note. I don't want to overuse the word "classic" here, but this is a classic Finger Lakes riesling, and it's very well priced. (4 out of 5 | Delicious, Distinctive )

It has really nice structure that presents the flavors of the Riesling grape in a very nice way. A lot of German Rieslings are more unctuous almost syrupy that is good but I enjoyed this style a lot. . . I would agree that they do very well at producing a wonderful wine that that has "hints of lime and orange blossom on the nose set the stage for a succulent palate of apricot and grapefruit" that has "a beautiful texture that carries into a long, lingering finish."

Trimbach Riesling
(Alsace, France. This is not the pricier "Reserve" bottling.)

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This 2009 Riesling seems a particularly fruity rendition, more forthcoming and less minerally-austere than this wine can sometimes be when young. The compelling aroma suggests tart citrus, wet stone and floral perfume. In your mouth, the wine is bone dry and at first seems mouth-filling and soft, until the wine’s high acidity registers in the mid-palate. Flavors of lime, apple and peach are vivid; the wine also has plenty of minerality but for now, those characteristics are lurking along the edges rather than revealing themselves front and center. The wine is crisp but its texture suggests oiliness, lending the wine far more substance than most dry, crisp whites. When I tasted this wine blind, I actually considered for a split second that it could be contrived, because of its improbable combination of lightness, fullness and pronounced flavor. (It has exceptional balance of the sort that a technically-oriented winemaker would aim to achieve.) I mention this to say that it was, literally, incredibly good. As delicious as this wine is now, I have no doubt that it can develop nicely in the bottle for three or more years, because Trimbach’s Rieslings are famous for their longevity. 90 points.

The 2010 Trimbach Riesling begins with a very pleasant aroma of tropical fruit and a bit of almond along with some floral notes. Tasting the wine reveals rich tangy fruit (granny smith apple, lemon and quince) with lots of depth. It also has a wonderful texture with a zesty minerality and crisp acidity. The wine is definitely dry, but still fruity. It ends with lots of tangy, zesty, salty fruit that lasts for a long time on the dry, clean finish. A Bulk Buy once again!

♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 87 Points

♣ International Wine Cellar (November/December 2010), 87 Points

♣ Wine Spectator (November 2009), 91 Points

Trimbach Riesling is a great wine at any price. . . The bottle lasted three days – and the may have even more longevity if I wasn’t so heavy-handed with the sample pours. On the first day it was citrus, spice and gasoline. Yes, gasoline. When you see tasting notes that say “petrol” this is what they are tasting. Eric Asimov of The New York Times exhorts American wine writers to stop using the word, because when was the last time you said, "I need to put petrol in the car?" And the gas component in the wine was delicious. On day two and three the gasoline had evaporated, leaving a glass of citrus and stone fruit.

The Trimbach 2007 Riesling – from purchased fruit – boasts unusually high (7.9 grams) acidity that translates into positive brightness of lemon and pineapple, and finishes with invigorating and lasting suggestions of citrus rind bittersweetness, tingling pineapple, and chalk dust.

Trimbach's 2010 Alsatian Riesling delivers exceptional citrus character with classic stone fruit, deep minerality, and a dry, refreshing finish. Lively acidity, clean cut flavor, remarkable balance, and a bit more weight on the palate result in a classic Riesling from Alsace.

Pale bright yellow. Restrained aromas of ginger, caraway seed, underripe pineapple, flowers and crushed stone, with a riper note of peach emerging with air. Dense, juicy and penetrating, with good texture and weight for a basic bottling. Finishes a bit warm, but there's no shortage of flavor here.

This subtle Riesling offers a finely woven mix of white peach and crushed pine needle flavors, with hints of brine and smoke. There's racy acidity, but it's well-meshed, and a mineral note lingers on the delicate finish.

Pure, subdued aromas of citrus peel, flowers and menthol. Pure and intense for this basic-level riesling, with good grip to the very dry flavors of white peach, lemon, flowers and minerals. . . Finishes with good length and focus.

Giesen Riesling
(Marlborough, New Zealand. This is their basic Riesling bottling; they also make other, more upmarket bottlings.)

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Soft, juicy and moderately sweet riesling with lovely sweet-and-sour action, a smooth texture and pleasant floral and citrus flavours. I particularly like the wine’s acidity, which is perfectly in balance with the level of sweetness without being too obvious. Very good value…Score: 93 ★★★★½

The 2014 Giesen Riesling, made in the medium sweet style is quite appealing. Perfect with Asian style chicken salad, with sesame and an accent of chili oil. Light straw color, really pleasant fresh fruit aroma, flowers, apples and blossoms; light bodied, smooth on the palate, good structure; medium sweet, medium acidity, good balance pleasing, delicious apple, flowers and a bit of mineral in the flavors; medium finish, easy aftertaste.

http://www.airnzwineawards.com/default,10482,giesen-riesling-new-zealand-2015.sm An impeccably composed riesling filled with citrus and subtle toasty notes with fine texture and perfectly pitched acidity. Awarded "Elite Gold" medal.

Voted by the judges as their favourite Riesling, which is very high praise indeed, and it's not hard to see why. Fresh and vibrant with lime zest and sweet apricot notes balanced by crunchy acidity.

The Giesen Riesling 2014 is a delightfully juicy white wine. A pale straw yellow in the glass, the nose shows mouthwatering orange blossom, lime, tangelo, honeysuckle, and lavender. The palate is succulent, with fresh citrus flavors and a vibrant acidity. The texture is clean, crisp, and juicy.

Strong petrol wafts up in the nose, a sweet tinge crosses the palate, and the finish is dry with a bit of an acidic bite. Even a few tannins creep into this wine. It has the longest finish of the three [simultaneosuly tasted Rieslings].

The bouquet of this lighter hued wine abounds with the scent of tropical fruit and perhaps a touch of lychee. Full of flavour in the palate with honey, apple and tropical fruit including cherimoya and yellow guava. A blend of Marlborough and Waipara fruit, this lower alcohol, medium sweet style will relish chilling — it’s one for blue sky summer sipping.

Trefethen Dry Riesling
(Oak Knoll District, U.S.A.)

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Some quotations and facts about this wine:

The wine was dry and absolutely delicious and a big surprise to me. Like a good Austrian riesling, it’s for lovers of gravelly, minerally flavors rather than overtly fruity wines.

A vibrant, fresh take on honeydew melon, lime zest, kiwifruit and apple flavors, with a racy finish. Drink now.

The 2012 Trefethen Dry Riesling was fermented and aged in stainless steel. It is a classic dry Riesling: Bright in its focus, crisp and dry, notes of jasmine, orange blossom and lime on the nose that lead to floral flavors on the palate, delightful acidity and minerality, with a clean, lasting finish. Dan Berger: "Classic Riesling aroma with a trace of jasmine spice, bright and lilting. Always a phenomenal wine...." At the 4th Riesling Rendezvous, the 2010 Trefethen Dry Riesling, was one of the 20 wines of the International Riesling Tasting (Dry), which was a blind tasting. Neil Pike [see "Pikes Traditionale Riesling", above] reviewed the wine: "Classic wine, citrus, a lot of texture, a bit of pair flavors, we are in the New World I think."

Very pale gold in color, this dry riesling from Trefethen is California riesling at its finest. Very Fragrant on the nose, with aromas of peaches, white flowers, granny smith apples and grapefruit. Though very crisp and dry with flavors of tart apple, kiwi and citrus, there are rounder flavors like peaches, cantaloupe, honey, and even a little fennel. With just a hint of sweetness more felt than tasted, this wine pairs nicely with the slight sweetness of pumpkin and carrots. This is also a fairly light-bodied wine at 12.5% ABV, which is nice when served with a first course such as this.

Trefethen has been making dry Napa Valley Riesling as long as most anyone, and, from the beginning, its wines have favored delicacy over richness and aggressive fruit. This latest very much fits the family mold and is a clean, fairly crisp, if somewhat too mild wine, and, truth be told, it could do with a boost in fruity depth with which to buffer the slight, latter-palate bitterness that holds it back from higher marks

Quite fresh and bright with nice lemony fruit. Crisp and appealing. The palate is bright and lemony with nice crispness, and a hint of mineral on the finish. 87/100

Bright, fresh, lemony and apple flavors hit our tongue and the wet slate, minerality was just what we hoped for. In this bottle was exactly what we like to bring to a party, something approachable but different than the average bottle of white.

This Riesling actually tastes off-dry, to judge by the honey and vanilla bean sweetness that accompanies the citrus fruits. It's brisk in acidity and refreshingly low in alcohol. Continues a string of successful, restaurant-fancy Rieslings from Trefethen.

For a Splurge

Unless you want to go to $125 and up (for Trimbach's "Clos Ste. Hune" Riesling, colorably the greatest white wine in the world), a good "reasonable" splurge would be Trimbach's still-famous "Cuvée Frédéric Emile".

• That wine at 1000 Corks
• That wine at Wine Searcher
• Its Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.
• Its CellarTracker pages.





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