Riesling is dazzling – and ages brilliantly, so stock up

Wines from Germany’s favourite grape are very versatile and can be great with or without food

John Wilson: To me the most reliable wines to cellar age come from Germany

John Wilson: To me the most reliable wines to cellar age come from Germany

 

Austria, Australia and Alsace all produce world-class Riesling, but in Germany is it held in uniquely high esteem. There it produces almost every style of white wine, from dry to sparkling to very sweet.

German wine labels can be lengthy and intimidating, but if you just remember the words Riesling and Trocken, you should be okay. The Trocken bit means dry; most of these wines will have a small amount of residual sugar (as does much commercial Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio), but you don’t really notice it because of the acidity, and German Riesling is all about the interplay between the two. 

Young German Riesling Trocken is typically aromatic and fresh, with a crisp acidity and racy green-apple fruits. These wines are low in alcohol, too, so they make for perfect summer drinking with or without food. As the wines age, they take on more complex flavours of honey, toasted nuts and rich stone fruits, always with a fine acidity to provide balance. To me, they are perfect wines. Riesling from the Mosel tends to be the lightest, those from the Pfalz, Rheingau and Rheinhessen are richer in alcohol and fruit. 

Returning briefly to my own cellar rationalisation, to me the most reliable wines to age would seem to come not from Bordeaux or Burgundy, and certainly not white Burgundy nor the Loire, but from Germany. I don’t think I have had a single dud while working my way through several dozen bottles of Riesling Trocken ranging in age from five to 20 years old. 

For many years, Riesling lovers (I include myself here) were a small, lonely band of anoraks trying unsuccessfully to persuade the rest of the world to join us. Now, however, if supermarket listings are an indicator, we may be witnessing a genuine growth in interest. Aldi and Lidl both list German Rieslings, and Dunnes Stores has had great success with the wine featured here, great value at €11 a bottle. The top wines are not cheap (the home market is happy to pay for quality Riesling) but compared with white Burgundy, they are arguably more reliable and better value.

Riesling Trocken can be drunk solo, but also goes really well with a wide variety of foods; it is all down to that zingy acidity balanced with a touch of sweetness. It provides a great accompaniment at the start of a meal with mixed nibbles. Also try it with crab, scallops and prawns, all of which have a subtle sweetness, as well as raw fish such as tuna and salmon. I love Riesling Trocken with grilled mackerel. You could also try it with any aromatic, lightly spicy Vietnamese, Thai and Malaysian chicken and seafood dishes. In Germany it is often consumed alongside pork dishes, or at Christmas with goose. 

Riesling Feinherb Schiefer Steillage 2019, Mosel, Reh Kendermann
10.5%, €11
A fine Riesling with racy, crisp green apple fruits, a touch of honey and a subtle smokiness. A great summer aperitif with a range of nibbles, sushi or smoked salmon.
From Dunnes Stores, dunnesstores.com

Thörle Riesling Trocken Kalkstein 2019, Saulheim
13%, €24.95
Scented, crisp and mineral with a mass of taut white peach fruits, and a firm backbone of acidity. It lingers beautifully. Keep it a few years or drink with prawns or a herby crab mayonnaise.
From The Corkscrew, D2, thecorkscrew.ie.  

Riesling Kabinett Trocken Winkel 2019, Rheingau, Scloss Vollrads
12%, €29.99
Subtle but persistent pears and green apples with an exotic touch of ginger and pineapple. Try it with lightly spiced prawns or chicken in a creamy sauce. 
From Ely Wine Store, Maynooth, elywinebar.ie; The Corkscrew, D2, thecorkscrew.ie; wineonline.ie

Riesling Trocken Kiedricher Klosterberg 2017, Robert Weil
12.5%, €39.95
A magnificent complex single vineyard Riesling with luscious white peaches, a touch of spice balanced perfectly by a strong mineral acidity. Keep it or drink it. For a real post-lockdown blowout, try it with scallops or lobster.
From O’Briens, obrienswine.ie 

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