RIESLING RENNAISSANCE 7
Rieslingis a variety of white wines made from the Riesling grapes. It isfamously known as the Germany’s primary contribution to the wineworld. The popularity of the wine emanates from its physical delicacythat is hard to produce. A simple error that leads to squeezing orcrushing the Riesling grapes before vinification leads to bad wine.The grapes undergo through a unique process of vinification tomaintain the sharp and acidic taste of the wine. Since the wines areseldom soaked makes them pure, sweet and sparkling. Regardingpopularity and importance, Riesling wines are rated amongst the topthree high-quality wines with the likes of Sauvignon Blanc andChardonnay. In the year 2004, Riesling wines were the 20th most grownwine grape variety and occupied approximately 48, 700 hectaresequivalent to 120,000 acres (Glatre, 2001).
TheRiesling grapes have indicated diversity through the provision ofvarious flavours from everywhere they grow. Riesling serves as anextremely terroir-expressive wine due to the effect of the place oforigin on the quality of the wine. The grapes belong to an aromaticvariety that displays flowery and perfumed aromas as well ashigh-level acidity. The flavours of Riesling heavily depend on theplace where the grapes grow. Germany is considered to be the sourceof high-quality Rieslings due to the presence of acidic soils thathave a balance between fruit and mineral. Consequently, GermanRieslings are associated with great age ability. Wines from low-costand low-level German producers are known to age for 35- 50 years whenstored well (Fischer, Swoboda, & Dieth, 2007).
Thetaste of Riesling begins with the nose. The grapes are amongst themost aromatic varieties in the world. The wines produce weird smellsthat drive wine enthusiasts crazy. The most typical aromas producedby the grapes include fruit flavours such as apricot, nectarine,honey crisp, Pineapple, Lime, peach, Meyer lemon, pear and apple.Also, the Riesling grapes produce other aromas ranging from the Beewax, citrus blossom, Ginger, Rubber, honeycomb to chemical aromasproduced by gas, diesel or petrol (Russell, 2012).
ClassicGerman Rieslings describe the ultimate winemaking profession inMosel. The best grapes grow on steep and south facing hills along theMosel River in Germany. The grapes are referred to as the MoselRieslings due to the definite flavour of slate rocks along the Moselvalley. The wines are packed in tall and thin bottles. Theconcentration of alcohol is less than 10% and can at times contain analcohol concentration as low as 6%. A rich citrus flavour contributesto the high acidity of the wines. Riesling grapes are solely used inthe production of the wines to maintain the purity. The grapes arerarely blended with other grapes for the production of Rieslingwines. However, the wines are blended with other grapes for theproduction of cheap and sweet table wine or maiden’s milk commonlyreferred to as ‘ Liebfraumilch.` (Nelson, 2001).
InGermany, Riesling wines are classified based on the season of harvestas well as the level of sugar ‘brix’. The standard of sugar inthe wine depends on the natural sugars contained in the grapes at thetime of production. The first category is referred to as theDeutscher Wein and Deutscher Landwein. The wines are called tablewines due to their dryness and high acidity levels. However, they arecharacterised by a broad range of sweetness levels (Arkell, 2006).
Thesecond category is the Qualitaswein. It entails wines produced fromgrapes with a varying range of ripeness. Besides, the wines areeither very sweet or quite dry. The Qualitaswein entails threecategories that include Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese. Kabinett arewines produced from grapes harvested earliest in the season. Thewines contain a crisp taste as well as dryness. Consequently, theyare meant to be used as quaffing wines during meals. Decent wines aremade from lately harvested grapes. Therefore, they contain high sugarlevels, low viscosity as well as alcohol content. The presence of thenatural acid in Riesling grapes causes the crispy as well as thehoneyed taste. The experience of the wine’s taste is similar tobiting into an overripe apple that is crispy and sweet (Russell,2012).
Finally,the Auslese wines represent a select of pickings from latelyharvested grapes. The wines contain a moderate level of sugar as wellas alcohol content. Other classifications entail the Beerenauslese(BA) that is created from overripe grapes. Beerenauslese wines areused as desserts (Fischer, Swoboda, & Dieth, 2007).
TheTrockenbeerenauslese wines are produced from grapes that have almostshrivelled to the vines raisins. Consequently, they are used ashoneyed dessert wines. The Eiswein wines are also referred to as theIcewines. They are the best dessert wines in the world. They areproduced from grapes that are harvested after the frost. The grapesare processed while frozen. Consequently, they are referred to asdesert wines due to their combination of purity, sweetness, acidityand concentration (Glatre, 2001).
Thediversity of the Riesling grape is well illustrated in the productionof less traditional and more experimental styles of wines that arecloser to the American style. A good example includes the Rheingauand the Nahe. However, the less traditional wines lack the brashflavour contained in the traditional wines (Fischer, Swoboda, &Dieth, 2007).
Thehistory of Riesling dates back to the era of King Louis the German(840-876). The king is credited with being the first individual tohave planted the Riesling grapes along the Rhine region in Germany. The first documentation of the planting of the grapes dates fromMarch in the year 1435. The documentation is located in an invoicethat belonged to the Cistercian monastery in Eberbach. The billingreferred to six Riesling vines that belonged to the vineyards of thecounts of Katzenelnbogen. The history records that in the year 1392,the monks from the Rheingau had cultivated a variety of grapes forwhite wine. The grapes were planted in vineyards previously used inthe cultivation of red wine grapes. Consequently, historians believethat Riesling white wines were part of the transition (Russell,2012).
Theorigin of the name Riesling is equally ambiguous. According tohistory, the name emerged during the 15th century. The origin isrelated to be a derivative of ‘Russling’ that implied ‘darkwood’. Besides, the name is also believed to have emanated from theword ‘Rissling’ that meant ‘to tear or pull apart’. In thepresent day, the name Riesling appeared in the year 1552 from a Latincontext in a herbal written by Hieronymus Bock that stated,“Rieslings grow on the Mosel, Rhine and in the District of Worms.”The Latin meaning was later rewritten to German in the year 1577(Nelson, 2001).
Rieslingsaw its victory during the 17th century. The era was characterised byincreased cultivation in Germany with an emphasis to improve quality.Consequently, in the year 1672, St. Clara Monastery in Mainz orderedfor the replacement of red vines with white wines. The red vines wereremoved and replaced by healthy Riesling vines- gates of ‘Rissling-Holz’. In the year 1720, 294,000 vines of Riesling were planted inthe vineyards that belonged to the Benedictine monastery Rheingau/Johanisberg. The Initiative as was noted by the cellar masterindicated that in the entire Rheingau region, there should be nogrape variety planted for producing wine other than the Rieslinggrape (Arkell, 2006).
Similarly,in the year 1744, the prince-bishop of Pfalz/Speyer -Cardinal Franzdecreed that there should be no other vine grown on his vineyards aswell as around Deidesheihm, other than the noble varietal grapesincluding Riesling. Besides, the revolution also occurred in Alsaceon 8 May 1787 when the prince-bishop of Mosel/Trier ordered theremoval of all inferior grape varieties and the replacement withRiesling (Nelson, 2001).
Afterthe revolution, the preference for Riesling had a lasting effect onthe grape growing regions. The transition set the trend for thefuture Riesling growing areas as known today. Besides, the revolutionnot only created the future of viticultural endeavours of the churchbut also to the development of the secular viticultural culture thatremains closely associated with Riesling up to date (Russell, 2012).
Inthe 21st century, the German Riesling are related to high quality andguaranteed authenticity. The Riesling wines are rated as the mostexpensive white wines in the world. The majority of the bestRieslings are produced in Germany. Regarding elegance from mineralrich soils, Australian wine is similar to that produced in Germany.Although Australian wines have a high content of alcohol, they do notage as their counterparts from Germany (Glatre, 2001).
Incentral Europe, Riesling grapes produce wines with similarcharacteristics as Germany. Riesling wines from European countrieslike the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Romania provide high-qualityRiesling as well. The grapes do not grow in Spain or Italy due totheir warm climates (Russell, 2012).
Arkell,J. (2006). Wine.London, UK: Collins.
Fischer,C., Swoboda, I., & Dieth, R. (2007). Rieslingthe full diversity of the world`s noblest vine.Munich, Germany: Hallwag.
Glatre,E. (2001). Riesling.Paris, France: Flammarion.
Nelson,K. S. (2001). Allalong the Rhine: Recipes, wines, and lore from Germany, France,Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Holland.New York, NY: Hippocrene Books.
Russell,J. (2012). Riesling.Place of publication not identified: Book On Demand.