So, what’s the big deal about Riesling?
Somebody asked me the other day what was my favourite grape variety above all else? I’m not going to lie, I did have to think about it for a second or two and then it suddenly came to me that it was indeed Riesling.
Riesling is one of those grapes that is beyond misunderstood. Known to many as the very sweet wine from Germany with a bad reputation – think labels such as Black Tower and Blue Nun; eventually the German wine makers took this on board and have been making much drier wines ever since that not only taste magnificent but pair beautifully with food, as well as maintaining low alcohol contents, some as low as 9%abv!!!
I love Riesling because of its sheer diversity and flavour profile which changes significantly depending how long you leave it on the vine and indeed what climate it is grown in. It’s amazing to think that just a few weeks maturing in the Mosel or Rheingau in Germany can increase sugar levels to the point of turning a crisp dry white wine into one of the world’s greatest dessert wines.
I can remember when I really got into Riesling. It was back in my days at The Ritz, London where I was introduced to the merits of this awesome grape and I quickly saw its potential for many different occasions; food pairing, aperitifs and even just enjoying a bottle on a summer’s evening.
A lot of the coolest Riesling’s I have tasted in recent years however have actually come from the New World; Australia and New Zealand to be exact. Australian Rieslings from the Claire Valley are being made to such a high quality these days by producers such as Jasper Hill and Jim Barry that they are finding their way onto wine lists up and down the UK and guests are slowly starting to realise that it isn’t all about the sugar. Many people ask me for your typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and the first thing I often ask them in return is if they are willing to try something new and go on an adventure. Sigh – I even had to do this with Wellies & Wine very own Editor Sarah Edwards who was obsessed with the usual – yawn – Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from NZ. If the answer is yes why not, then I pop out a New Zealand Riesling from a winemaker like Felton Road, and the guest is usually startled by the fact that it is possible to drink something other Sauvignon Blanc (not that there is anything wrong with that by the way – each to their own ;-), and have a wine that has this incredible freshness and acidity which can be drunk with pretty much anything you put with it.
At The Forest Side, we have many different Rieslings all over the list, and it will always be my go too for any luncheon in the sunshine or a picnic up in the fells on a sunny day. Why not book our latest lunch offer at just £29.50 per person and I’ll introduce you to one of our Rieslings? Below is a selection of some of the best that I have ever tasted over the years:
Trimbach, Clos St Hune, Alsace, France, 2009
Jasper Hill, Georgia’s Paddock, Heathcote, Victoria, Australia, 2014
Riesling Kabinett ‘Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl’ Dönnhoff 2014
Felton Road, Riesling, Dry, Central Otago, New Zealand, 2015
I implore all wine lovers to get your hands on these wines and discover the delights of what Riesling has to offer – I promise you won’t be disappointed.
By Charles Carron Brown, Head Sommelier of The Forest Side Hotel & Restaurant
The Forest Side Hotel, Keswick Road, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9RN
T 015394 35250 W theforestside.com