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Wine Review: Riesling making a comeback

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Among the most popular white wine varieties throughout Europe is the riesling, a wine that for centuries has been presented in various levels of sweetness to mitigate its often-high acidity but rarely, if ever, as a totally dry wine.

When the most famous riesling in Germany, called Bernkasteler Doctor, was sold in 1882, the final price was a whopping 17 gold marks per vine – indicating the popularity of the variety. Today, riesling wines are making a comeback, not as sweet wines but through modern winemaking, as totally dry wines.

I lived in Germany for several years and sampled many of the sweet riesling wines but never a dry one. When I returned here and began writing about wines, I avoided the riesling as at that time sweet wines were not too popular among people who were interested in wine, and nobody wanted to read about them. When, after a bit of arm twisting, I finally sampled a dry riesling, I realized that my prejudice had resulted in me missing a really excellent variety that had a great deal to offer in its quality, flavor and aroma.

Recognizing my error and knowing that others may have made the same mistake, I sampled some modern dry Rieslings. I present my findings as my apology to my readers and to the variety.

Appassionata 2018 Riesling GG ($50)
If the reader is unfamiliar with riesling wines or an old friend of the variety, the Appassionata 2018 Riesling GG should not be missed. This is a dynamic wine that accentuates all the fruit flavors that the riesling grape can deliver. This dry gem allows flavors often masked by fruit sugar to shine through. A lemon character runs through the flavor and aroma along with that of apricots and raisins. The aroma also has a jasmine quality about it, as well as a suggestion of violets. This riesling is an excellent wine to accompany seafood of all kinds and is a star with sushi.

Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge 2023 Riesling ($25)
Here is a wine made from the grapes of vines that were approximately 45 years old and are still producing quality wine grapes. Modern fermentation techniques have reined in the riesling’s propensity to produce acidic wines, allowing the fruit flavor to shine through. What results is a very enjoyable wine. The Cliff Edge Riesling exhibits a broad spectrum of flavors and aromas with peaches, apricots, pineapple and apple being the most apparent.

Hyland Vineyard Riesling ($40)
This dry wine is an enjoyable beverage that exhibits a broad spectrum of flavors and aromas with peaches, apricots, pineapple and apple being the most prominent. The fruit acid is finely balanced and adds a background of citrus to the flavor and a long finish.

Domane Wachau Federspiel Terrassen 2022 Riesling ($21)
The name Federspiel translates as “Spring Games” and is an introduction to springtime and all of the fun and enjoyment that time of the year represents. This is a dry riesling and presents the aromas of apricot, peach, green apple and a very obvious minerality. If you have left the riesling wines behind because they were often too sweet, this is a dry, full-flavored wine that can be a pleasant change from the usual white wines.

Domane Wachau Federspiel 2021 Buck Riesling ($27)
The flavors and aromas are the signature riesling style but wrapped in a smokiness that adds extra layers of interest to the wine and a fruity finish that lingers on the palate and in the memory for a long time.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at frojhe1@att.net.

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