I drink Riesling throughout the year, but when there is no R in the month – that is, summer – my consumption increases exponentially. I am planning a trip to Germany, the true home of Riesling, and will report back. But in the meantime, here are four bright fresh summery Rieslings from elsewhere. Most Riesling is low in alcohol with enticing aromas, pure fresh fruits and a wonderful brisk, thirst-quenching acidity. It is all about fruit; if there is any oak-ageing, it is well-used barrels that impart no flavour.
New Zealand produces a range of high-quality white wines, including Riesling. Framingham is one of my favourite producers in Marlborough, and they make an excellent range of Rieslings, including the dry wine featured here. Elsewhere from Marlborough, look out for the delicious Greywacke Riesling and JN Wine has the very good Doctor’s Riesling from Forrest for a reasonable €17.50, as well as the Felton Road Dry Riesling.
Australia might not seem the obvious place to grow a cool-climate grape, but Riesling has a long and noble tradition going back to the mid-19th century. The cooler, more elevated sites, such as the Eden and Clare Valleys, produce wines that are usually bone dry with a crisp acidity and mouth-watering green fruits. Favourites include Pewsey Vale, Henschke, Mount Horrocks, Grosset and Leeuwin Estate. O’Briens has two worth checking out; the Koonunga Hill Retro Autumn Riesling (€21.95) and the Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling, Clare Valley (€31.95).
Alsace, lying just across the Rhine from Germany, once produced steely, bone-dry Riesling with more body than their German counterparts. These days some are a little sweeter, but the best retain that wonderful austerity that goes so well with food. And, like Grüner Veltliner, Riesling is a fantastic and versatile food wine. It has a sweetness to the fruit that makes it ideal with scallops, prawns and crab. It also pairs nicely with sushi and sashimi, as well as smoked salmon. In Alsace, it is frequently enjoyed with chicken, including coq au Riesling, fatty pork and creamy sauces. And also, of course, with choucroute garnie. Slightly sweeter Riesling is one of the great matches for spicy Thai and Vietnamese seafood and chicken dishes as well as herby, spicy salads.
Looking further afield, O’Briens has the Château Ste Michelle Riesling (€16.95) from Washington, and Whelehan’s the delicious Dr Konstantin Frank Margrit Dry Riesling (€39) from Finger Lakes in New York State.
If you enjoy mature white wines, or want to build up a cellar, I find Riesling is one of the most reliable white wines to lay down (or if it is screwcap, stand up). Over the years I have stashed away odd bottles and now have a collection going back a decade or more, and I have yet to be disappointed.
Specially Selected Kooliburra Clare Valley Riesling 2020, Australia
Fresh, crisp and dry, with green apple fruits and a zesty lime acidity. Great value for money and perfect with most fish dishes or mild Thai green curries — chicken or prawn.
Tim Smith Wines Eden Valley Riesling 2021, Australia
Fresh free-flowing green fruits with racy lime and lemon zest. A lovely wine at a very keen price. By itself, with crab salad, or a spicy Thai prawn salad.
Riesling 2019, Calcaires Jaunes, Muré, Alsace
Clean as a whistle with vibrant yellow fruits, a strong mineral edge and a lip-smacking dry finish. A posh aperitif or with smoked salmon.
From Mitchells, Glasthule and CHQ, D1; Avoca, Kilmacanogue and Dunboyne; MacCurtain Wine Cellar, Cork.
Framingham Classic Riesling 2021, Marlborough, New Zealand
Very moreish tangy orange peel and succulent peach fruits in a beautifully balanced wine of real quality. Enjoy solo or with all manner of fishy delights.
From Baggot Street Wines, D4; Clontarf Wines, D3; wineonline.ie; Redmonds of Ranelagh, D6.