Riesling is a noble grape that produces some of the world's finest, most long-lived whites. A light, vibrant white wine that often has citrus, floral and mineral notes. It's mostly associated with Germany, but other well-known regions making it include Alsace, Washington, Niagara, Finger Lakes, Okanagan and Australia’s Clare Valley and Eden Valley.
Styles range from bone dry to intensely sweet. Aromas and flavors include apricot, peach, wet slate, minerals, flowers and petrol (when it's aged).
They are the second level of six in the German prädikat system of classifying Rieslings based on ripeness of the grapes: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein and Trockenbeerenauslese. Kabinett refers to high quality German Riesling that is usually light and dry to slightly off-dry and made from fully ripened grapes. The sweetness in kabinett Rieslings comes from natural fruit ripeness, not sugar.
My reviews of these Garnacha red wines are updated weekly. These Riesling white wines offer great taste at a good price. You'll find a definition of Riesling white wine at the bottom of this page as well as food pairings for Riesling in my wine matcher. This is just a small set of my reviews, but you can get all of them when you join my wine community.
Spätlese is the German word for "late harvest," used to describe Rieslings made from grapes with sugar levels at harvest that are higher than Kabinett and lower than Auslese. They are therefore more full-bodied than kabinetts and less so than ausleses. These grapes are picked at least seven days after the main harvest. Because spätlese contains more sugar than the grapes from the main harvest, they are typically medium sweet.
Auslese is the German word for "selection," used to describe specially selected, perfectly ripened bunches of grapes for this style of Riesling. Often, the grapes have started to over-ripen, becoming affected by the desirable mould botrytis cinerea or noble rot (edelfaule in German). They are hand-picked and then pressed separately from other grapes. The wine made from these grapes is sweet.
Beerenauslese is made from overripe grapes that are hand-picked and are pressed separately from the other grapes. These grapes are fully infected with botrytis cinerea or noble rot which shrivels them. This concentrates the sugar. Beerenauslese is very sweet but has enough acid to balance the wine. In Canada, it's called icewine whereas in Germany it's eiswein. Canadian vintners use both the vidal and riesling grapes while Germany uses mostly riesling, which has more balancing acidity for this sweet wine. This wine has a medium to full body, with a long finish and surprisingly low alcohol of, on average, just 10%.
Trockenbeerenauslese is the German word which means “dry berry selection” and describes wines made from specially selected, overripe grapes. They are left on the vine until nearly dry, having been shrivelled to raisins with noble rot. These grapes are picked individually at the height of their maturity, so they’re very concentrated in flavor and sugar and produce extremely rich, sweet wines. These wines are very rare, very expensive and considered to be among the world's finest dessert wines. They have excellent aging potential.
When the Riesling grapes are left on the vine several weeks to several months after the normal harvest time, they dehydrate and become more concentrated in their flavors and sugars. Sometimes a benevolent mold called botrytis cinerea (a.k.a. noble rot) causes this dehydration which also increases sweetness. This Riesling has higher residual sugar levels producing a thick, sweet, rich dessert wine.
Food matches for dry Riesling and Kabinett styles include beef, poultry, game birds, pork, cheese, pizza turkey dinner, spicy foods and seafood go well with this wine.
Pair late harvest and Auslese Rieslings with nuts, melons, soft cheese, curries, spicy food and Thai dishes.
Icewine, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese go beautifully with fruit-based desserts, biscotti, nuts, foie gras, cheeses and dishes with a touch of sweetness such as glazed ham.
© 2014 by Natalie MacLean. All rights reserved.