Riesling, One Grape - Endless Possibilities

Riesling, One Grape - Endless Possibilities - g 3:0 IF YOU...

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Unformatted text preview: g 3:0 IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW GERMAN WINE. DRINK AGAIN. :l RIESLING — ONE GRAPE, ENDLESS POSSlBlLlTlES. Riesling is one of the world's classic and noble grape varieties. producing what many consider to be the best white wines in the world. They have been favourites of wine connoisseurs for centuries and. today. are gaining increasing recognition for their versatility with food. They offer what today‘s chefs and consumers are looking for ~ light, harmonious wines with suffia cient body and Laste for many occasions. THE VINE The true Riesling is known throughout the world primarily as "White Riesling" or "Johannisberg Riesling." the latter because of the im- portant role played by the famous German wine estate Schloss Joe hannisberg on the Rhine River in the development and recognition of the variety over the centuries. There are many imitators that have assumed the name Riesling. hoping to benefit from the true Riesling's reputation. But Emerald Riesling. Paarl Riesling, and Welschriesling, for instance, are totally unrelated to the true Riesling. The true Riesling's origins cannot be precisely identified. They are unquestionably German, however, probably from an ancient wild Teutonic vine known as vitis vfnifera silvestrfs. The first verifiable reference to Riesling was recorded in a German document in l 455. after which references are fairly common. Today, Germany mains tains a leadership position in Riesling. with approximately 40 per- cent of the world’s vineyard area devoted to Riesling. Riesling is a hardy, frostvresistant grape variety. It grows in tight bunches of smallish green grapes that turn golden as they ripen in au- tumn. The vine is diseasearer sistant and a modest yielder which thrives in inhospitable. steep, rocky soil as well as in fertile rolling landscapes It is grown in cooler climates such as New Zealand and the U.S./\.’s Pacific Northwest, res tiecting the soil in which it is grown. but always preserving its own inimitable integrity. Another distinguishing characteristic of Riesling is that it is a late ripener, requiring one of the longest growing seasons of any variety. It seems ironic that the grape variety that requires the longest time to ripen should be the pre—eminent variety in Germany with the world's northern, most vineyards. But that is precisely the case. Here. at the 50th degree of latitude ias lar north as Newfoundlandi], nature provides exactly what the Riesling demands — a long growing season that extends into late fall with a warm and dry autumn. THE WINE "'3. '1 Although Riesling is planted widely, it is Germany's Riesling wines which are recog nized as the indisputable benchmark by which all others must be measured. No oth- er country produces Riesling wines with such versatility. fruit and balance — aromat— ic wines with bouquets ranging from citrus Fruit to peaches, apples, pears, exotic fruit and spice. There are two main common characteris tics among German Riesling wines that clearly differentiate them from others. First. German Riesling wines are light. With an alcohol content ranging from seven to it percent, they have, on average, 20 to 30 percent less alcohol than wines from other countries, The second crucial factor distinguishing German Riesling wines is that they are muttiidimensional. They can be vinified completely dry with a sltght hint of nat- ural fruit sweetness, or lusciously rich and sweet. The best German Rieslings are distinguished by an invigorating contrapuntal interplay between fruit and acidity, the result of the long, slow ripening period in the north— ern climate. The acidity gives the wine, be it dry or slightly sweeter, a refreshing tartness, In warmer climates. the heat of the sun each day reduces the acidity of the wines Lintil they become soft and less interesting. But in Germany, where the temperatures remain mild throughout the growing and ripenine seasons, the acidity remains fresh, ripe and vibrant. CLASSIFICATIONS LIKE all German Wines, German Rieslings are classified on the basis of the ripeness of the grapes at time of harvest. More than 90 per? cent of German Riesling wines are sold as Otialitatswein, with the assurance that each has passed analytical and tasting tests carried out by panels of government experts. There are two divisions of the Qualitatswein category: OUALlTATSWEIN BESTIMMTER ANBAUGEBEETE [QbA] 7 wines from one of the 15 approved German quality wine growing regions that ripened sufficiently to assure that the wine will have the taste and style of its region. OUALITATSWEIN MIT PRADIKAT [OmP] — meeting all the require ments for ObA wines as to origin and legal approvals, these are the highest quality wines made from riper or overripe grapes. The ripeness level is indicated by a special attribute [Pradikat in Ger man]. In general, riper grapes yield more concentrated wines. Dry and oltedry styles [trocken and halbtrocken] of the first three Pradikat wines are, remarkably versatile, with ideal, while sweeter c1 versions are classics on their own and excellent with certain kinds of food. The last three Pradikat wines are lusciously sweet, to be served with or in place of dessert. . KABINETT — the worid's naturally lightest wines made from fully ripened grapes. SPATLESE — literally means ,,late harvest" and is made from grapes usually picked later during the harvest, when they are very ripe. The wines are fuller in body. aroma and flavour. AUSLESE — wines made from selected bunches of overripe grapes. The wines ai'e richer and more intense in taste and aroma. BEERENAUSLESE {BA} 7 a luscious, sweet dessert wine made from individually picked, overripe berries often affected by botrytis cinereo, the noble mould that concentrates the grape must. Usual- ly these tabOur-intensive rarities can only be produced in years of exceptionally fine weather, EISWEIN — a rich. concentrated wine made from lullyeripened grapes left on the Vine untii there is a hard frost [—8“C or i7.6°Fi. They are picked and pressed while frozen. Eiswein is high in fruit sugar and acidity. TROCKENBEERENAUSLESE [TBA] 7 the rarest of German wines. even more labour-intensive to produce than BA because the indi- vidually seioctod berries are dried up like raisins. TBAs are extremely concentrated and sweet, often with an underlying honeyed flavour HOW DRY SHOULD RlESLlNG WINE BE? Riesling wines differ widely in their levels of dry ness. If you are looking for a completely dry I Riesling, look for the word trocken or dry on the label. If you prefer a less austere winej look for the word halbtrocken or eff~dry, ana yea should find a wine with a very slight touch of sweetness} remaining dry to taste. If no taste description appears on the label, the wine will usually have some perceptible sweetness and can be excellent as an aperitif wine. to ascompany spicier foods, or in the case of intensely rich rarities like Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese, served with or following dessert. HOW LONG WILL RlESLlNG WINES LAST? Because of their acidity. Riesling wines age superbly if stored props erly. A rule of thumb for enjoying Riesling is the following: OM and KABINETT WINES — select younger vintages and enjoy them within five years for fullest flavour. . SPATLESE — enjoyable young. but peak in three to ten years. AUSLESE — need at least two to three years bottle ageing and will l continue to develop new and subtle flavours for at least a decade. BA, TBA. EISWElN — may peak seven to ten years after bottling and, if stored well, can develop and remain fresh and intriguing for decades. ."i‘::i ‘ MATCHING RIESLING WINES WITH FOOD Riesling can provide an ideal complement to many dishes. indeed. because of their fruity acidity, range of styles and varying levers of alcohol. they are widely considered THE most food compatible white wines in the world. A few guidelines for matching foods and Riesling wines may be helpful. Four basic considerations are vital to establishing sucl cessful food and wine pairings: intensity, alcohol, the de— gree of sweetness and acidity. A successful match is one in which these components in wine are in harmony and balance with their counterparts on the menu. First. try to balance the intensity of the taste in the main dish with the intensity of the wine. A subtly flavoured, delicate dish calls for a light Riesling ObA or Kabinett; more intensely flavoured prepav rations may find a better match in fuller Riesling Spéitlese or even Auslese wines. Second. remem- ber that the level of alcohol af- fects the taste of the wine and its compatability with food. Kabinett wines. with their natue rally low alcohol content match perfectly with mild and delicate dishes, such as fish. pork and poultry, served with light sauces. Well-seasoned, more robust dishes. such as veal. some game, or dishes served with more intense sauces require wines with more body, like dry or off~dry Spéitlese wines. The third factor. the sweetness of the wine, depends a great deal on your own preference. But the sweetness of the wine should be in balance with the sweetness in the food. It is important to note that most vegetables have a pronounced sweetness and sauces made from reductions of butter. cream and meat stocks are slightly sweet, call— ing for a wine that is not austerer dry. Finally. the acidity in wine is an important consideration in harmo- nizing wines with food. Fortunately. German Rieslings are high in fresh, fruity acidity that tantalizes the appetite. Acidity can coun- terblance and even cut through the richness of sauces and fatty foods. Wines with high acidity are extremely versatile. going well with most foods. but if a Riesling wine is chosen to match very spicy or hot dishes. a fruitier and sweeter style is more appropriate. APERITIF AND HORS D'OEUVRES German Rieslings are the world's most versatile aperitif wines. Light. low in alcohol Kabinelt wines will enhance the appetite without dulling the palate. And they are su- perb with a wide range of cold meats, fresh salads. light cheeses. canapes and smoked fish. Rich patés call for the intensity of an older. sweeter Riesling Spatlese or Auslese wine. MAIN COURSES Dry ObA, Kabinett and Spatlese wines are su- perb with most sauteed, broiled or grilled seafood. If sewed with a heavy cream sauce. a dry Riesling with a higher alcohol content can form the perfect match. If the sauce is lighter. the wine can have a touch of sweetness. Most pork, poultry and veal dishes also match beau- tifully with Riesling ObA. Kaolnett and Spatlese wines. For game, full-bodied. dry Riesling Spatlese and Auslese wines are a perfect match, depending on the style of the sauce and the seasoning used for the meat. DESSERTS With their intense taste and aroma. Ausiese. BA, TBA and Eiswein may serve as desserts them— selves. They also match well with desserts that are not overwhelmingiy sweet, particularly desserts with the tartness found in such lruits as apples. plums, pears. apricots, peaches and mango. Rare TBAs and Eiswein should be en joyed without the competition of a dessert. CHEESE Neutral and harder cheeses will find a good match in fruity. low alco* hol Riesling ObA and Kabinett wines. Softer cheeses generaily match best with riper Spatlese wines. The richer blue, veined cheeses are mar- velous with Atisiese and BA wines. ORiENTAL AND ASIAN ClJlSiNE Many Oriental and Asian dishes have a touch of sweetness, which fruity German Riesling ObA. Kabinett and Spatlese wines comple- ment so well. Sweet and sour dishes or those with orange- fiavoured sauces are well matched with Riesling Spatlese and Auslese wines. If the food is very spicy, the fruitiness and intensity of flavour of a dry Riesling or wellimatured Spatlese in a sweeter style will complement and act to alleviate the spice. ...
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Riesling, One Grape - Endless Possibilities - g 3:0 IF YOU...

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