Slow to ripen, Riesling’s hallmark is fruity acidity. As such, it is predestined for northern wine-growing regions, where it can finish ripening under the late autumn sun. It can thive in a variety of soils but heat-retaining, steep stony sites along river valleys provide optimal conditions.
The spectrum of Riesling wines ranges from simple to sublime, from dry to lusciously sweet. A typical Riesling is pale to greenish yellow in color; reminiscent of peach or apple on the nose; and has a pronounced acidity. Rieslings grown in slaty soils, are often said to have mineral notes; some smell of flintstone; mature growths can show interesting petrol overtones. The very finest Rieslings have a tremendous ageing potential.
Riesling is doubtlessly Germany's most celebrated grape variety and numbers among the economic mainstays of the German wine industry. With 55,845 acres, Germany is the home of the world's largest vineyard area devoted to Riesling, well ahead of Australia and France, which rank second and third, respectively.
Riesling probably evolved from a natural crossing of “Weisser Heunisch” (Gouais Blanc) and Traminer. Earliest documented in 1435 in the Rheingau, Germany.
Light, young Rieslings – whether dry of with fruity sweetness – are ideal summer wines. More mature Rieslings are better food partners. Dry and off-dry Rieslings go especially well with light dishes, steamed fish, meat with light sauces and small poultry. An off-dry to slightly sweet Spätlese harmonizes well with fresh, unripened cheese. Spätlese with natural, fruity sweetness and lusciously sweet Auslese are excellent with fruit-based desserts. Mature Auslese and Beerenauslese are ideal apéritifs.