Riesling Wines…Germany, Finger Lakes, Austria

by Wendy VanHatten

When traveling to Germany, one of my favorite wines is Riesling. Not the sweet Riesling many think of here in the US, the dry, slightly mineral Riesling I find in the Mosel River region.

Did you know…

The Riesling grape originated in Germany and the highest concentration of plantings still exists. Since, for the most part, it is a late ripening variety and is capable of producing many different styles of wine ranging from bone dry to sweet wines. For this reason, it is a wonderful partner for many types of cuisine and ages beautifully.

Riesling is a sturdy grape that prefers soils that drain well which explains why the best examples are generally come from soils of slate, schist, or limestone, etc.

If you can’t get to Germany, check out the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York where 335.2 hectares of Riesling vineyards are grown. In the Finger Lakes, the soils are primarily shale where the Riesling is planted which was deposited over 10,000 years ago when a giant glacier melted. This makes the ideal soil conditions for Riesling.

You could go to Austria, where Riesling here is dry 99% of the time. Not much is grown here with only 4.1% of the production. Again, the soil is important. Here the soils include weathered primary rock soils such as limestone, and schist.

Austrian Riesling is best known for its minerality which showcases notes of slate or flint, but also boasts a lovely floral character and signature fruitiness. You probably won’t taste the almost petrol-like note as it ages, though it certainly does occur.