It came as an extremely pleasant surprise to see sales of Palliser Estate dry Riesling come second only to Chardonnay during our winery of the month promotion in November last year.
Riesling is one of the oldest German grape varieties and one of the most misunderstood wines on Earth.
It is thought to have originated in the Rheingau where early writing dates back to 1435 and in the late 1800s, Riesling was regarded as one of the great wines of the world, commanding even higher prices than many Bordeaux reds at the time. These days, Riesling has fallen from grace and lest we tempt fate, we're always a little hesitant to suggest it, but Riesling is clambering back up, albeit slowly.
It's always encouraging to see Riesling sell well because it has been misunderstood for so long. Not to mention mispronounced. It's pronounced 'Rees-ling'.
So why is Riesling so underrated and thought of as sweet?
Dialled up aromatic flavours and high acidity both make for a wine with a strong personality. Acidity acts as a preservative and can help to age wines as well as keep them refreshing, which is key to great Riesling. To balance high acidity in cold climates or cool years, winemakers often stop fermentation before Riesling is 100% dry but, paradoxically, most Riesling's acidity masks its sweetness, making it appear intensely aromatic to smell but crisp and fresh to taste. This is part of its magic charm. Riesling grows best in a cool climate because it tends to ripen late in the season and needs to do so slowly, in order to retain its hallmark acidity. This means, it is often medium dry or even sweeter. But with climate change in full swing, Riesling is being treated differently than it has historically and there's a real swing to making dry Rieslings all around the world.
Here's a bunch of the best to buy in store and online - links below.
Top Rieslings at Regional
2016 Wittman Kirchspiel Riesling RRP $85.99 Dry
2019 Mount Edward Riesling RRP $24.99 Dry, certified organic
2020 Palliser Estate Riesling RRP $26.99
2019 Prophet's Rock Riesling RRP $38.99 Dry
2019 Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling RRP $25.99 Dry
2014 Jim Barry The Florita RRP $69.99 Dry
2007 Forrest The Valleys Riesling RRP $31.99 Dry
2021 Felton Road Dry Riesling RRP $38.99 Dry
What's in the name?
The name Riesling is thought to come from the German word rizan, which means to split, which only seems mysterious until you learn that this white grape has a natural propensity to split in the later stages of ripening.
It has been suggested that the name might come from the Austrian Ritzling, the name of a river in the Wachau region.
One thing we know for sure
Wherever the name comes from, one thing we know for sure: Riesling is one of the most recognisable white wines in the world thanks to its intense lemony, lime zesty, Granny Smith apply aromas and it's zingy refreshing qualities. The drier, the better, but it's all about balance and the best thing about Riesling is: it doesn't cost the earth to find one that tastes great and is beautifully balanced.