It’s time for the next installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. Last time around we began the second half of the challenge by getting to know Pinot Grigio. Now it’s time to move on to one of my favourite white varietals – Riesling!
About the Noble Grape Challenge
Let’s refresh ourselves on what’s going on here – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites and going through them from lightest to darkest, we’ll learn about the key characteristics and flavours of each.
Riesling was the first white varietal I discovered a love for, so it’s near and dear to my heart. It’s known for being incredibly interesting and engaging, with lots of things going on in the glass. Some of the most Riesling-y characteristics (like petrol) can sometimes be off-putting for newer wine drinkers, but often offer something different from the usual fare.
Riesling gets a lot of love from people in the wine industry, which makes sense. If you’re drinking similar tasting things all day everyday you eventually get to a point where you pretty much know what you’re going to get from sip to sip. But Riesling is so different from other varieties and can be so different from region to region that it’s often a refreshing break from the same old, same old.
Have I sold you on Rieslings yet? Here’s some more Riesling-related trivia, in case you need more convincing:
- Riesling is a freaking chameleon grape! It’s commonly made made in dry or off-dry styles, but can also be made into ice wine. So many options!
- Late Harvest Riesling is very real, very delicious thing. The grapes are left hanging on the vine to the point of pretty much being overripe, which means the grapes will have lots of sugar in them. High sugar + fermentation = an early stop to the process, leaving a sweet dessert wine behind. Seriously, try it.
- Germany is Riesling Mecca, but it also pops up in Alsace (France) as well as Australia and my own wine backyard, Niagara.
- It’s pronounced reece-ling, not reeze-ling. Lean on that ess, my friends! It feels so good when you do. Reeeeeeeeeeeessssssssse-ling!
The Test Case
Today’s test case is from the Alsace. Despite my abiding love Riesling’s chameleon capacities, I admit that I’m partial to ones from the Alsace.
(Little tip, the Alsace region is right next door to Germany’s main Riesling regions. They’re pretty much cousins!)
Alsatian Rieslings tend to be bone dry, with high acidity, bright lime and floral flavours, and a delicious mineral backbone that always makes me want to take a new sip as soon as I’ve swallowed the previous one. Danger, danger!
Let me introduce you to the Willm Réserve Riesling.
Can we take a minute to appreciate how sleek and sexy this bottle shape is? Gorge.
- The colour is a really lovely straw colour. I’d love to call it pale gold but I think it’s more in the medium straw category. Still, though, very pretty.
- The nose gives up some lovely white flowers (honeysuckle, elderflower) and a bit of lime blossom (that I hope will show up as lime proper on the palate). There’s also maybe a bit of white pepper, but I might just be searching for something else.
- The palate – whoa acid! This wine is super bright and juicy. As I hoped the blossom on the nose turns into delicious lime on the palate, accompanied by lemon (juice and pith), apricot, peach, and creamy white flowers (honeysuckle, and maybe peony?).
- There’s a creaminess on the nose and the palate that makes me wonder if this wine has undergone a bit of malo-lactic fermentation, but I think that’s probably not the case. The small amount I know of wines from the Alsace is mostly about how they like to make the wine with very little intervention.
- It has a surprising amount of body too, for a Riesling and for a wine so high in acidity.
- There’s also a very slight effervescence on the palate that I am totally into.
- As suspected, it’s suuuuper dry and has a nice stony/mineral quality that adds a whole other dimension.
Is it a surprise that I really like this wine? Because it shouldn’t be. In my world Riesling + Alsace = YES.
You can also probably tell from my tasting notes that Rieslings will offer a lot to you and your palate, and also make you think if that’s the sort of thing you’re interested in.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Riesling to go enjoy.
Next time on NGC (and just in time for the warm weather) – Sauvignon Blanc!