Riesling is hard to get, I reckon
I'm drinking Riesling tonight, sitting outside just after the light has finally faded and the temperature has dipped into the late teens.
It has taken me a long time to 'get' Riesling, to the point where I actually really enjoy it, rather than just appreciate it. I've joked here before that Riesling is the one variety that, once you are in the wine trade, you have to like. Outside the trade, seemingly, no one buys it, no one drinks it. But as a writer, I must plug it because that's in my contract.
This year, though, I've passed the appreciation phase and entered the enjoyment phase. I've been buying Riesling, and drinking it through choice. Especially Mosel Kabinetts, which, with their beautiful tension between sweetness and acidity, tantalize the taste buds and leave you wanting more. But I'm also quite taken by the new generation of Trocken Rieslings from Germany, when they are made with ripe enough grapes.
Austria and Alsace are also great destinations for Riesling. Both seem to be able to do dry Riesling really well, without it being austere or awkward.
Australia is famous for its dry Rieslings, with both the Clare and Eden Valleys excelling. They're cheap, too, and can age well. I appreciate them (although sometimes they can be a bit austere and samey), but I'm also excited to see new styles emerging, including those where some residual sugar is left in to provide balance.
Tonight's wine, however, comes from New Zealand, and the Marlborough region. It's Spy Valley Marlborough Riesling 2007, and for the technically minded this has a pH of 3 and TA of 8 g/litre, weighing in at 12% alcohol. It's super fresh, with explosive flavours of lime and grapefruit, finishing with high acidity and a nice dollop of sweetness that serves to balance out the acidity without making the wine seem anything other than dry, fresh and minerally. There's nice delicacy here, even though there's also a lot of flavour, and a hint of grippiness about the palate. I really like it. In the UK it is available from Bibendum (http://www.bibendum-wine.co.uk/) and will be one of the wines in their forthcoming summer sale, when you'll be able to pick it up for a song. For me, this is an 89 point wine.
New Zealand is promising for Riesling. Here's a really informative post from Framingham winemaker Andrew Headley, published on the Caves de Pyrene Grapevine.
Is Riesling an accessible variety to you? Is it something you got pretty much straight away? Or, like me, did you have to warm to its charms over several years of relatively heavy drinking?