Crisp weather calls for crisp wines, and there are few better grape varieties to tuck into this time of year than Riesling. The question, of course, is what kind: Unlike popular perception, after all, Riesling can be produced in a range of styles, from the bracing dryness of Austrian ones to the sweeter bottlings of Germany...and a whole range in between.
Of course, Riesling is still misunderstood by far too many consumers, a frustrating number of whom still associate one of the great varieties of the world with the sickeningly sweet cheap stuff that so many of us drank to excess while we were in college.
Good Riesling, however, has the potential to be among them most noble wines you can find. Indeed, in terms of quality for price, Riesling has the potential to provide longer-range pleasure than almost anything else: I have plenty of Riesling in my personal collection that I’m aging for the next 20 or 30 years and that, almost unbelievably, I spent less than $35 per bottle on.
Of course, you don’t have to wait that long: There are plenty of bottlings available right now that are utterly delicious, astoundingly versatile with food, and remarkably affordable. No matter what style you prefer.
All three below are highly recommended, and all three were sent to me this past summer and tasted as part of the excellent Summer of Riesling promotion.
Fritsch Riesling Wagram 2011, Austria
Aromas of white peach and apricot are complimented with apple, mineral, and a whiff of wasabi. On the palate, impeccably balanced acidity provides even more spine to the apricot skin, slate, mineral, crunchy green apple, and peppercorn spice. This vivid, cleanly etched wines is delicious right now, and will be fabulous in the cellar for 10 - 20 years.
Gustave Lorentz Riesling 2009, Alsace
Unexpectedly mature nose, with petrol, marcona almond, almond skin, red apple, and mineral. Bright, pepper-spiced flavors of apple and hard peach are sliced through by a distinct salinity and brininess that reminds me of nori. Drink now - 2027.
Domänenweingut Schloss Schönborn Riesling Qualitätswein, Hattenheim Pfaffenberg 2010, Germany
Vivacious, mineral, and fresh, with aromas of melon (especially honeydew) and sweet red apple, white peach, a vague hint of spice, coconut, and orange. Those melon notes follow through to the palate and are pronounced and round, but sliced through with fabulous acid, crisp apple, slate, and then a hint of softer orange blossom and honeyed character. It all ends with a savory note on the finish. Crystal clear and irresistible. Drink 2015 - 2032+.