The Riesling grape is the flagship variety of the German wine industry. It is used to create famous and prestigious wines, dry, fruity, sweet, fresh and very perfumed. It grows on the slopes of the river Rhine in the Rhineland region, mostly in the Mosel Valley, a prodigious area for German viticulture.
Wines were already produced during Roman times in Rheingau, the birthplace of the Riesling grape. The British, who greatly appreciated the wines from this area, adopted in their language the abbreviation Hock —from Hochheim—to refer to any dry and sweet German Riesling wine.
Riesling grapes are small, with a bright yellow color, and their yield is quite limited. The fruit can produce extraordinary wines without having to be combined with other varieties. It is so expressive that it does not require the contribution of oak barrels for color or flavor; and so unique, with so much harmony; aromas and structure, that whoever drinks it will sense the scents of the vineyard.
These magnificent grapes are used to produce a wide range of products, from fresh, dry and flavorful wines, to the impressive “eiswein” or ice wine, whose grapes are harvested during the night at below-freezing temperatures. And let´s not forget the famous sweet wines produced from the pomace – edelfäule in German – caused by the Botrytis cinerea fungus, which affects the vines and aides in the production a particularly fine and concentrated sweet broth.
These are five of the best German wines, produced in the Mosel Valley with Riesling grapes.
Riesling Eiswein 2001
WINERY: Weinhaus Barzen // REGION: Pfalz // GRAPE: 100% Riesling
For its preparation, the clusters are left to freeze on the vines and carefully collected by expert hands. The grapes are pressed while they are still frozen, which allows for a greater concentration of aromas and flavors. Later, it is left to ferment, in small batches, to retain the virtues of the juice. The resulting color is pale yellow with golden reflections. On the nose, it is delicate with clean, lively and concentrated aromas, complex, floral and refreshing. In the mouth, it is dense, with a brilliant acidity that leads to a long finish full of elegant mineral and citric refinement.
Georg Breuer Estate Rüdesheim 2010
WINERY: Georg Breuer // REGION: Rheingau // GRAPE: 100% Riesling
This excellent Riesling is pale yellow with golden sparkles, clean and bright. The nose shows good intensity with notes of white acid fruit, white flower, citrus, light notes of quince on a strong minerality. On the palate, it has a good flavor, very fresh with certain unctuosity, and excellent acidity, which marks the passage through the mouth and balances the sweet notes. It is a light and structured wine with a long well balanced finish.
Riesling Trocken 2012
WINERY: Wiengut Fritz Haag // REGION: Brauneberg // GRAPE: 100% Riesling
The Weingut Fritz Haag winery is currently managed by Oliver Haag, a wine producer that is causing a stir with his interesting Rieslings. Riesling Trocken 2012 is pale yellow, with aromas of green apple and wet slate. On the palate, you immediately detect hints of ripe pear and green apple. It is a round and perfectly structured wine, a brilliant creation.
Riesling Bernkasteler Lay Kabinett 2012
WINERY: Dr. Loosen // REGION: Bernkastel // GRAPE: 100% Riesling
For more than 200 years, Dr. Loosen has been producing some of the most famous wines of the Mosel: white wines with character, with all the complexity of the best Rieslings and a great capacity for maturing in the bottle. The Bernkasteler Lay Kabinett 2012 has a vibrant yellowish color, with fruity aromas of grapefruit and peaches. Its passage through the mouth is dense, with an effervescent and juicy fruit explosion, and acidity that gives it a pleasant and lingering finish.
Werner Domdechant Hochheimer Trockenbeerenauslese Riesling 1989
WINERY: Domdechant Werner // REGION: Hochheimer // GRAPE: 100% Riesling
The word trockenbeerenauslese indicates that this wine is dry, that no sugar has been added during its fermentation, that it comes from a late harvest, and the selection has been extremely careful. Also, that the strains have been affected by the Botrytis cinerea fungus. It has a pale mahogany color. Its aromas, reminiscent of fruits like plums and pears, bring to mind balsamic and herbal scents, and the perfume of a dark and humid forest. In the mouth, it is full-bodied but not overwhelming since it is balanced by an excellent acidity. It has a long and round finish. ■