So today I believe we at Wine Republic have found an editor to help with my videos. I'm quite pleased. And on top of that the intern has written about Riesling.
Varietal Overview: Riesling
History and Cultivation
A great number of the world’s most believed wine varietals originate in France, yet many forget that there is a different European source that produces one of the sweetest (although not all sweet), sparkling, and most aromatic white wine varieties; German Riesling. Riesling grapes are thought to be native to the Rhine River region in Germany, with first notable mention of the varietal happening in 1435, which outlines the sale of several Riesling vine cuttings to German Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen. Interestingly enough, modern DNA fingerprinting has traced the parentage of Riesling to a Medieval peasant wine known as Gouais blanc.
Since its first mention, Riesling vines have been a staple in German wine country, and have only grown in popularity. This popularity skyrocketed in 1787, when the Archbishop of Trier, in a push to increase wine quality, sent an order that all “bad” vines of any varietal be replaced by Riesling vines. Today, Riesling continues to stand tall as Germany’s signature and most popular grape variety.
Riesling is thought to have first spread out of Germany around 1477 when it was first introduced into Alsace, France. Here it was highly lauded by the Duke of Lorraine, and has stuck within the region ever since. Introduction into other world regions appeared much later, particularly around the 19th century when it was introduced to such wine-growing giants as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States (cooler regions such as Washington state, the Finger Lakes region in New York, and Michigan).
Riesling grapes themselves are delicate in composition, and this understanding is carried forward into the wine production process. However this is not to say that these grapes cannot withstand the elements. From a vinicultural perspective, Riesling is fairly hearty in the field and is able to withstand frost, pests and rot, which is why this varietal can grow in many regions where other grapes cannot; namely the Rhineland. The white varietal grapes are naturally acidic, highly aromatic and perfumed, which translates over to the finished product. This aromatic wine is almost always unoaked to preserve the pure flavors and scents of fruit and flowers. Producers tend to use late-harvest in order to tone down the acidity of these grapes. Overall, Riesling grapes are known to have a high affinity for terroir, meaning that the grapes are apt to pick up strongly on the flavors of the land within which it is grown. The grapes are relatively small and grow in fairly compact clusters, and thrive most often in cooler climates such as their native land in Germany.
Tasting Profile and Pairings
Due to the grape’s affinity for picking up the flavors of the land, there are noticeable differences that help to distinguish Old World (German) versus New World Riesling. However one thing is common amongst these different wines; Riesling is almost never used in a blend. As mentioned before, it is a delicate wine, and therefore these unique flavors must be preserved and can easily get lost when combined with other grapes. In all Riesling production, extreme care must be taken not to crush or bruise the skin of the grapes. Doing this could release unwelcomed tannin into the juice which would produce a bitter flavor that would drown out the delicate fruit notes.
German Old World cool-climate Riesling often has strong notes of green apple and other delicate green tree-fruit, yet there is a wide spectrum of flavor possibilities and it is difficult to find a one-size-fits-all description for Old World Riesling. These wines can range anywhere from dry (trochen) to sweet (suß), depending on differences in production and harvest (with later harvest being optimal for a sweeter wine). “Trocken Riesling” or dry Riesling, is the most common variety produced in Germany. This wine tends to have a higher minerality, crisp, light, and refreshing. These aspects of the wine make it great with hard-to-pair food such as Chinese dishes, Tex-Mex with cilantro, salads with vinegar-based dressings, sushi, and Thai food. It is best not to overpower this wine with dark, heavy meat, but it can handle a variety of light-yet-flavorful sauces and spice.
New World Riesling tends to be associated with slightly warmer climate production, and a cornucopia of tropical and stone fruit. As expected, these wines also have a great degree of variation in flavor and therefore it is difficult once again to use a single set of descriptors to describe such an array.
Riesling has a unique quality when aged, and this is the formation of petrol notes. From a chemical standpoint, this phenomenon occurs due to the formation of a chemical known in short as TDN. For those who are expecting a sweet, floral wine, this can be slightly off-putting and seem misplaced. However, some of the most highly regarded and expensive Riesling bottles are aged to this character. German Riesling drinkers tend to be more averse to petrol flavor than those who drink other Riesling (such as that from Alsace), which has caused the German Wine Institute to go so far as to eliminate the descriptor “petrol” as a possible aroma in German Riesling. However it is important to note that if a bottle of Riesling smells somewhat like your cars gas-tank, it may just be a high-end wine!