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Riesling really is renascent

28 Mar 2002 by JR

I know I'm a bit monotonous on this subject but I really do think that at long last the tide has turned for the long-underrated Riesling grape. Here are a few of the many promising signs from around the world.

  • A Riesling tasting in London last month attracted more than 500 acceptances. The comparable figure at the previous such tasting was well under 200. The tasting was preceded by a seminar by me, Jasper Morris of Morris & Verdin (much of whose income derives from selling white burgundies including those of Domaine des Comtes Lafon in the UK) and Martin Lam of Ransome's Dock restaurant on why Riesling is the world's greatest white wine grape. It was so popular that we had to do it twice - and the participants can't all have come because they found the title so preposterous. In fact the most heartening thing to me was that so many young people attended that I suddenly realised I didn't have to go through all that hand-wringing about how their perceptions of Riesling must have been blighted by awful Liebfraumilch and Piesporter Michelsberg. This new generation has probably never even tasted the cheap sugarwater from Germany that served to introduce their parents to the concept of wine drinking.

  • Winemakers all over the world are succumbing to the Riesling virus. In Chile, at Concha y Toro to be precise where a number of even more exciting Pinot Noirs are bubbling up, the talented young winemaker there will be essaying his first Riesling this year, from fruit grown in the cool far south of Chile's wine country. Leading Chilean wine writer Patricio Tapia, a thwarted Riesling fan himself, can't wait.

  • Riesling is being produced in the most unlikely places nowadays. Even the generally torrid wine region Alicante on the Mediterranean coast of Spain has recently added Riesling to its offering.

  • In Australia and New Zealand Riesling has definitively joined the upper echelons of white-wine production with a recent high-profile Riesling competition being chaired by Wolf Blass himself, and his bow tie. His comment was that the huge number of entries 'showed that winemakers were responding to the increased demand for quality Rieslings'. And Rosemount, never slow to anticipate a trend, have just launched a new Riesling brand.

  • Fact: Riesling enthusiasts tend to be cleverer, wittier and better-looking than the average wine-lover. Scientists at Geisenheim are currently investigating the causal mechanism. (See comment in your turn on purple pages.)

Tags:  riesling
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