Beyond Germany: Three Places Bringing Out the Best in Riesling

riesling
Illustration by João Neves

Native to Germany’s Rhine Valley, Riesling has found great popularity worldwide. And for good reason: Though many associate the white grape with sweet wines, its shape-shifting nature means it can just as effortlessly play the role of dry, crisp apéritif, as it can be an off-dry foil to fiery Thai curry or a luscious late-harvest accompaniment to cheese.

Typically high in acid, this showy variety is hardly ever shy and often yields perfumed notes of stone fruit, citrus and honeysuckle that will beckon you back for another sip. Recently on quite a global jaunt, here are three other places to find the aromatic white.

Australia

Though made in Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria, Riesling from the Clare and Eden Valleys of South Australia is considered a quality benchmark. “The Clare Valley does dry Riesling beautifully—we have great weather, lots of sunshine, clear skies and a pristine rural environment free of pollution,” says Jeffrey Grosset, owner/founder of Grosset Wines.

The certified-organic winery has been producing crisp, lemon- and lime-driven versions for four decades.

Hungary

Hungary boasts the fifth-most European plantings of Riesling after Germany, Alsace, Austria and Moldova. Not to be confused with Olaszrizling, the widely planted local white used mainly for bulk wines, Hungarian Riesling often yields quality bottlings.

Made with grapes grown across the country, varietal bottlings and Riesling-based blends prove equally exciting. Regional styles range from bone dry, tank-fermented offerings to spontaneous-fermented bottlings made from old vines.

A Quick Guide to German Riesling

Washington State

One of the first grapes planted in the state, Riesling is now Washington’s second most grown white. Producers in the Yakima Valley, Ancient Lakes and Lake Chelan are known for fruit-dominated versions. Elsewhere, winemakers produce a viscous, honeyed late-harvest style while others freeze Riesling grapes for ice wines.

Chateau Ste. Michelle remains the largest Riesling producer worldwide, joined by boutique winemakers like Chris Figgins, president/winemaking director of Walla Walla’s Figgins Family Wine Estates, who predicts a coming pivot in style. “While there’s many sweet to off-dry [examples], I really believe the future to be dry Rieslings for their transparency and complexity,” he says.

Published on December 8, 2020
Topics: Wine and Ratings