I wrote this piece for a blog I contribute to, wine is an occasional subject and the articles I write are pretty basic appealing hopefully to the casual wine drinker.
This on Riesling was on reflection not suitable for the blog or for here in its original form, so I have a shortened version for here which I hope will stimulate some opinion.
As I have said elsewhere Riesling by chance was my introduction to fine wine back in the seventies when I purchased four cases of the wonderful ‘71s, and I have been buying Riesling ever since but I must stipulate I am not a Riesling only person , far from it, I purchase wine at all levels from the far flung corners of the globe, it is that never ending search for new grape varieties and what they bring or don’t to the table alongside the classic staples that make wine so fascinating.
But ever since that first purchase I have followed the changes in Germany both in the wines themselves and the legislation that continues to this day.
It is easy to forget that pre war Reisling or “Hock” was fetching higher prices than the likes of Ch Latour for example and the facts can be seen on old menus and wine lists, so why the fall from grace, the war itself undoubtedly had a big effect as all things German were not exactly at the head of the queue for post war buyers and wine of that quality was a niche as few people in the “lower” classes drank wine at all in this country.
The attempts when the general populace started wine drinking to re invent the brand were successful with the likes of blended Blue Nun types which became very popular as the go to white wine of the period, but at a long term cost as tastes changed and more variety in wines became available, resulting in German wines largely taking a back seat in the public eye right up to today.
Riesling has for the newly found become the cult white wine of the serious wine drinker and writer, it’s as if it never left their lips, but that of course is not true, it has become a trend that is all, the truth is that articles and reviews of Riesling are few and far between, it is only mentioned among wines “chattering” classes as a sign of knowledge about a grape they in reality have little contact with.
How many times have we heard the word renaissance when Riesling is mentioned to find later down the track nothing has changed, far to often deja vue comes to mind.
There is more hope now for the grape as the winemakers have mastered the drier versions of the grape which cancels out that “Riesling is always sweet” comment, the latest versions are magnificent examples of the winemakers art and now stand proudly alongside those sweeter stalwarts that the grape produces.
Yet even now the legislature doesn’t help the customer with the endless fiddling with the wine laws and the over explanatory labels, some producers have seen the light and cut much of it out and taken the simpler labeling route and are to be applauded , like Topsy the categories keep growing despite the assurance back in the seventies that they would be simplified, the new drier categories are themselves ridiculous being long winded and totally bewildering to all other than those in the know, the only one that should be widely recognised is G G the new cru class for Riesling.
On a personal level I hope that Rieslings popularity remains were it is, for purely selfish reasons, where else in the world can you buy such superb wines at such reasonable prices and have the choice of buying an introductory wine made with the same skill in in a winery in the top echelon for around £10-£15, the answer nowhere.
The quality being produced in the Mosel and its tributaries is now feeding through to a revival in the Rhine itself and Pfalz and Rheinheissen, and those names that have lived on their reputation from the past are also being revitalised, with the added attraction of endless good vintages, a huge range of stylistic types, the reasons to buy Riesling have never been better.