Wine & Ratings

Johannisberg Riesling

About Johannisberg Riesling

Johannisberg Riesling is a common synonym and older name for the German white wine grape, better known simply as Riesling. Wines that used to be labeled with the term “Johannisberg Riesling”—a nod to the name of a wine region in Germany, Johannisberg, where the Riesling grape is prevalent—are now simply labeled either Riesling or White Riesling, according to the U.S. government’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), since 2006.

Riesling is one of the world’s finest wine grape varieties. It boasts a fortuitous combination of acidity and flavor, resulting in wines with excellent aging potential. Rieslings are often among the most cellarable white wines in the world.

In the vineyard, Riesling is a grape variety whose wood is particularly hard, helping the vine to thrive in cooler climates. It is resistant to frost, though susceptible to coloure (shot berries) and botrytis, also known as noble rot. With respect to other German varieties, it is late-ripening, though by international standards it ripens early.

The Riesling grape is highly versatile, and excellent wines are produced at all levels of sweetness. The best examples are unoaked, have high acidity and are relatively light in alcohol.

In Germany, Riesling is widely grown and produced in a multitude of styles and sweetness levels. The best growing regions include Mosel, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Nahe, Mittelrhein and Pfalz. German Riesling can range from bone-dry to lusciously sweet, and alcohol levels can range from a modest 7 percent for sweet selections to a hefty 13.5 percent for dry wines or Grosses Gewächs, a prestigious category of full-bodied wines classified by Germany’s Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP), an association of top quality producers.

In France, Riesling is most at home in Alsace. Typical Alsatian Riesling is heavily perfumed, dry and full-bodied. Sweeter Riesling wines are also produced here; the best examples include Sélection de Grains Nobles (which translates to selection of noble berries, or wines made from grapes affected by noble rot) or Vendange Tardive (which translates to late harvest).

Riesling is very popular in Austria, though it does not carry the same home-town pride as the Grüner Veltliner grape. The most bountiful regions here include Wachau, Kamptal and Kremstal. At its best, Austrian Riesling is dry, aromatic, full-bodied and highly concentrated.

The Riesling grape is also cultivated throughout Europe, with notable plantings in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Moldova and Bulgaria, among others. There is also growing interest in Italy, where there are plantings in Alto Adige and Friuli.

Outside Europe, Riesling is widely grown in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA.

Australia produces some excellent dry Riesling in areas like Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Tasmania and Great Southern. They tend to be lower in alcohol than their European counterparts and can be particularly long-lived. In youth, these wines show fresh lime flavors and minerality, later developing a note often compared to petrol. Some sweet wine is also produced from botrytized fruit.

The best New Zealand Riesling comes from Marlborough and Waipara, though its production is tiny when compared to the ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc. Some excellent sweet, late-harvest wines are made here.

In the U.S., Riesling is most commonly associated with Washington State, though there are considerable plantings and quality wines also produced in California, Oregon and New York’s Finger Lakes region.

Other synonyms for Riesling include White Riesling, Johannesberg Riesling, Johannisberger Riesling, Riesling Bianco, Riesling Blanc, Riesling Renano and Weisser Riesling, among many more.

No matter what you call it, you can find the top-rated Riesling wines reviewed by our expert tasters online. Browse our database below for helpful articles and buying guides!

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