Riesling | Vincabulary


*Editor’s Note – The print edition shows an incorrect wine description for Trimbach Riesling. The correct copy is below. We apologize for any inconvenience. 


[reez-ling, rees-ling]


I still remember my entry-level wine class all those years ago, working through basic characteristics of key grapes. I knew next to nothing, and felt overwhelmed by all the material – new terms, foreign words, spitting in public. I recall how my ears perked up when my instructor passionately began to tell us about Riesling. “Many wine lovers believe this is the greatest grape variety in the world, capable of extraordinary feats of vinous magic.” Zing. Like the first lick of Mosel Riesling on the tongue, I was struck. My love affair with this ancient and noble grape had begun, and strengthened along with my wine knowledge.

This highly aromatic grape, dating back to the 15th century Rhine Valley in Germany, is aptly capable of making a wide range of styles – from achingly crisp and bone dry, to unctuously sweet and everlasting, plus bright and lively sparkling. Quite a hardy grape, Riesling does best in poor soils that are well draining (ideally slate and sandy clay) and responds best to a long, slow ripening period. Unlike many whites, this grape is all about purity of fruit; the use of oak is rare, as it can muffle and overwhelm the delicate, floral, citrus aromatics and flavours. But Riesling’s most potent draw is its natural and piercingly high acid, providing the wine with tremendous aging potential and allowing it to nimbly balance out ridiculous levels of residual sugar. The highwire balancing act between razor acidity and ripe sugars is an addictive effort – both for the vintner and the consumer.

Perhaps the most important point to understand is that Riesling is highly terroir-expressive. This means that the grape variety easily translates its provenance, and expresses the site of where it was grown. The wines below are all undeniably Riesling, united by acids, apples, honey and minerality, but individually they stand alone and reveal a real sense of place.

Mosel to Eden Valley to Kelowna: presenting as separate as the geography itself. An extraordinary feat of vinous magic indeed.



Deinhard Lila Riesling Brut Sekt NV
Rheinhessen, Germany
$15.50-18   12.5%

Fresh apple, soft perfume and sweet candy necklace. The frothy palate is bright and cheery, with a citric sour gummy bear finish. Easy to find, easy to enjoy, this sekt is crowd pleasing and party-ready.



Charles Smith Wines
Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2011
Columbia Valley, Washington State
$25-29*   11%

Kung Fu Girl can stand up to many foods, balancing ripe, tropical lychee, apricot and gooseberry with piquant citrus acidity. A lime zest finish and sweet/sour buoyancy makes it a natural for Asian flavours and spice.



Pewsey Vale
Individual Vineyard Selection Eden Valley Riesling 2011
Eden Valley, South Australia, Australia
$24-28  12.5%

Slate and sweet lemon curd aromas lead to a bone dry palate, with dried herbs, prominent stoniness, red apple, spiced bitter melon and subtle eraser notes. Wild meadow flowers linger on the finish.



Riesling 2011
Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$24-28*  12.4%

Ever felt a wine sing in your mouth? With vibrant, crisp granny smith apple, minerality and honey, this off-dry wine’s acid literally leaps across the lively palate. Focused lime rind extends through the juicy, lengthy finish. One of North America’s top Riesling producers.



Maison Trimbach
Riesling 2009
Alsace, France
$29-33   13%

The most challenging Riesling of the bunch – one that is hard to fully wrap your tongue around, but impossible to turn away from. Sand, subtle petrol and pear skin aromas lead to a bone dry palate, one of edgy refinement. Firm, bracing acidity hovers over ripe Asian pear and a honey wax mouthfeel. White pepper spiciness on the finish.



Dr. Loosen
Wehlenser Sonnenuhr Kabinett 2011
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
$26-30  8%

This might be the most focused, concentrated 8% that you’ve ever tasted. An exceptionally steep and rocky blue slate site in the Mosel yields this elegant wine. Expressive ripe pear and bruised, perfumed white blossoms entice to an off dry palate. Floral spring perfume, pear, white peach and delicate citrus comes to life through crisp acidity and electric minerality. Red grapefruit through the long finish.


DRINKing Guide: How to use our purchasing information.

*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. Some may be in limited quantities. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores – visit www.bcliquorstores.com or download the free BC LiquorStores iPhone App for locations and availability. Prices may vary.

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

Comments are closed.