For many – in the wine trade, at least – Riesling is the ultimate white grape. This German variety is capable of a wide range of styles, from bone-dry to rich and luscious. It is a master at exhibiting a sense of place, whether that’s taut, mineral-rich examples from The Mosel in Germany, or racy versions packed with refreshing lime-zest notes from Australia’s Clare Valley.
Not only that, but it’s also capable of ageing phenomenally well, adding layers of complexity and even petrol-like notes as it matures (which is nicer than that sounds, trust us). Its origins are German, but Riesling has spread to Austria and Alsace in France to great effect, and further afield to Australia, New Zealand, Chile and, in particular, Canada with producers such as Mission Hill showing their mastery of the grape.
The grape excels at sweet wines, too. In France, Domaine Albert Hertz's Riesling Sélection de Grains Nobles 2017, wows with its beautiful balanced aromas of honey, ginger and butterscotch. Or there’s the much-heralded icewine style, demonstrated perfectly with this bottling from Peller Estates in Canada, laden with notes of quince, pineapple and mango – and only 10.5% alcohol.
The only downside to this variety is that the wine-drinking public has yet to fully embrace Riesling’s charms – memories of sub-standard German wine flooding the UK market in the 1970s and 1980s have done Riesling’s reputation no good at all. But this top-notch grape is gradually winning back support, and, as the wine trade has been trying to tell people for years: if you know, you know.
Cave de Ribeauvillé
A more delicate style than some, but plenty of flavour and character: zesty lime marmalade, fresh and vibrant flavours with a brilliant dash of citrus and a long, toasty finish. A good wine to accompany food, elegant and firm. 13.5%
Charakter F. Steillage Escherndorfer Lump Riesling Spätlese 2015
Divino Nordheim Thüngersheim
Petrol and lemon cleanly illuminate nose and palate as stone fruit sinks to weighty centre with ginger and 5-spice in its wake. Oily mouth with smudge of beeswax and bracing citrus freshness. Unfurls with perfect timing in classic style. 14%
Riesling Sélection de Grains Nobles 2017
Domaine Albert Hertz
Extremely concentrated nose of lime curd, honey, ginger and butterscotch. Very concentrated and complex palate with ripe stone fruit and a firework display of fresh acidity and rich golden sweetness, creating a long, clean, splendid finish. 11.1%
Leonay Mature Release Watervale Riesling 2013
An outstanding example of developed Riesling with yellow citrus, lime curd and complex notes of kerosene, toast, truffle and salinity. Powerful and elegant, showing great tension, power and finesse. A refreshing acidic line runs through the wine. 12%
Leonay Mature Release Riesling 2013
Exceptional Riesling! Restrained, refined, steely and focused. Fresh yet mature; pithy racy and vibrant with classical petrol notes and flinty, smoked, mineral-laced acidity. First in class. 11%
A fresh, vibrant wine with lime curd and lemon zest on the nose, followed by baked peach and honey, with a hint of almonds, on the palate. Drinking beautifully now but it will improve with age. 12.5%
A lovely wine, with a gently perfumed nose of honey and lime cordial and a luxurious lingering blast of toasted pineapple and candied fruit on the palate, balanced by very clean acidity. Complex, layered flavours and weighty texture: glorious. 12.8%
Ungsteiner Weilberg GG Riesling 2017
Weingut Karl Schaefer
Intent, confident and perfectly paced, nose shows the way with citrus and tropical notes then palate embraces in lavish, glowing ripe peach and mango richly balanced with Christmas cake and sparklers of acidity. Poised with handsome typicity. 13.3%
Ripe ginger and pink grapefruit are balanced out with a slight tough of petrol on the nose. Complex and slightly honeyed on the palate with ripe peaches and brioche. Touches of perfect stone fruit lead to a clean, long finish. 13%
Cuvée Louis Riesling 2018
Fresh and candied lime on the nose with a light petrol character. Exciting ginger, spices and pineapple come together with cucumber and creamy vanilla on the palate, finished with hidden acidity that comes to refresh your palate. 12.5%
Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling Icewine 2018
Peller Estates Winery
A beautifully perfumed scent of mandarin peel, dried mango, tart fresh lemon, honeyed pineapple and quince is backed up with just the right amount of focused acidity to refresh and cleanse in a long, complex finale. 10.5%