Monday 18 December 2017

Rise up to Riesling, the cool customer of the New World

Liam Campbell, Wine columnist Weekend Magazine

Liam Campbell

Riesling is an uber-chic cool German varietal that can comfortably deliver the full range of white-wine styles, from still to sparkling, desert dry to honeycomb sweet.

South of the Equator, the New World countries' cooler coastal or high-altitude regions mimic its German homeland. Here, Riesling is mostly a crisp and dry fruity wine, at home in the company of white meats and fish in spicy Asian sauces.

Riesling is more of a marathon runner than a sprinter. It is very slow to ripen. This longer hang time allows the vine to extract more minerals and trace elements from the soil to enhance the grapes with more aromatics and flavours.

It is Riesling's remarkable stamina to continuously improve with age, preserved by its naturally high levels of citrus-fruit acidity, that give it the immortal element. At its best, that vital acidity can run through the wine like a low-voltage electric current, tingling and stimulating the tastebuds.

Its essence is the almost glacial purity of its citrus and green-apple fruit. That, and a curious bouquet when fully mature of freshly ironed fabric, which some unflatteringly call 'petrol-like'.

If you are raising a glass, raise a Riesling.

1) Riesling 2010 Sugar Loaf from Marlborough, New Zealand, 9pc

Fruity aromas of barley sugar. Off-dry with a subtle natural hint of honey, ripe pear, slatey minerality and green-apple skins. Balanced perfectly and interwoven with the lemony acidity. Serve with chilli-hot and spicy vegetarian samosas.

€14.99 in Dublin at Red Island Wines, Skerries; McCabe's, Blackrock; The Gables, Foxrock, and Wines on the Green, Dawson Street.

2) Riesling 2009 Klein Constantia from Constantia, South Africa 12.5pc

Leafy and vegetal aromas. Dry with ripe lemons and zesty flavours with its crisp acidity fully integrated. A pebble-stone minerally finish.

€17.99 at Ardkeen Stores, Waterford. In Dublin: Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, and The Vintry, Rathgar

3) Dry Riesling 2010 Huia from Marlborough, New Zealand, 13pc

Fragrant squeezed lemons and limes with that hint of petrol implying maturity. Chalk dry and delicious with a citrus fest of lemon peel, lime and kumquat, enrobed in a tongue-coating oily texture.

€19.25 at Searson's, Monkstown, Co Dublin.

4) Dry Riesling 2008 Astrolabe from Marlborough, New Zealand, 13pc

Perfumed aromas with talcum-powder and mineral scents. Dry with pithy flavours and citrus zestiness with a lingering mineral aftertaste.

€19.99 at O'Brien's off-licences, Dublin citywide

5) Riesling 2006 Petaluma from Hanlin Hill, Clare Valley, South Australia, 13pc

Complex bouquet of wet slate, mineral, lime and zest. Bone dry and pithy with baked lemons and a silky texture.

€21 at La Touche, Greystones, Co Dublin

6) Riesling 2007 Casa Marin from Miramar Vineyard, San Antonio Valley, Chile, 13.5pc

Perfumed with pine cones and a subtle whiff of petrol. Refreshing grapefruit flavours and the crisp acidity in harmony and fully integrated with a lemon-pie fruitiness.

€22.99 at Caviston's, Greystones, Co Wicklow, and Gibney's, Malahide, Co Dublin;

Mitchell & Son's Spring Wine Sale finishes on April 3 with 20pc off all wines, Champagnes, ports and sherries, including fine wines and Riedel glasses and decanters. Located in Dublin's Custom House Quay Building, IFSC, and in Glasthule Village.

Irish Independent

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