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Riesling - The King of German Wine Grape Varieties
By Sebastian Kuehn
Riesling - Ambassador for German Wine Culture
The Riesling represents, more than any other Grape Variety, the long lasting Wine Culture and Tradition in Germany. Riesling overtook the high-yielding Rivaner (Mueller-Thurgau) Grape in the 1990's and became the most planted Grape Variety in Germany. Since then, it enjoys the top position of all Grape Varieties, not only on a national level. Riesling is in terms of Importance for high quality Wines worldwide usually included in the "top three" White Wine Varieties, next to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
The long history of the Riesling Grape goes back to the 15th century, where written references about the "Rießlingen" prove the existence in the Rhine area for the first time in 1435. Older documents from 1348 contain similar spellings (Russelinge, Rissling) with regard to Wine Grapes, but there is no certainty that they referred to the Riesling Grape, as we know it today. It is commonly believed that the Riesling originated somewhere in a Rhine valley. Furthermore, there is evidence that the original Grape is a Crossing between the Traminer and Heunisch Grapes.
Nowadays, more than half the worlds Vineyards devoted to the Riesling are in Germany. The Riesling Grape grows in every German Wine Region and accounts for more than 22% (22,236 ha) of the total yields on Vineyards in Germany. The largest popularity experiences the Riesling in Rheingau (Rhine District), where it occupies 79% (2,472 ha) of the Vineyards. Other famous Riesling Regions are Pfalz (Palatinate), Mosel (Moselle) and Rheinhessen (Rhine Hesse). But as said before, in general the Riesling Grape can be found with mentionable numbers of Vineyards in every German Wine-Growing Region.
Full of Complexity, Versatility and Longevity
The Riesling Grape has a full, flowery Aroma, which is often described as being almost perfumed. Fragrances of crisp apples or ripe peaches can be found in the mineral rich Wine. It also contains a high, fruity acidity and is preferably used to produce a range from dry to sweet White Wines and also serves as the favorite Grape for the Production of Sparkling Wine. It is unlikely that the Riesling Wine is oaked, usually it comes pure.
The late Harvest Wines have a honey-like Taste caused by the Noble Rot Botrytis. The Berries for the sweet Dessert Wines are handpicked and contain an extremely high amount of sugar and acid, which add a distinctive flavor and complexity to the Wine. Sweeter Riesling Wines like Beerenauslesen (Berries Selection) or Trockenbeerenauslesen (Dry Berries Selections) with their high content of natural sugar are suitable for the Wine Cellar and the later pleasure at special occasions. The usual aging period for Riesling is around 10 - 30 years, depending on the Ripeness of the Grapes. Certain high quality Riesling Wines are among the most long lived of all Wines and can be preserved for Centuries.
Many Wine Drinkers appreciate a Riesling as an ideal Summer Wine that can complement a Variety of Dishes. Especially mature, dry or medium-dry Riesling Auslesen (Selections) or Spätlesen (Late Harvest) pair good with lighter Meals, such as Steamed Fish, Meat and Chicken with light Sauces. Due to its Versatility, certain Riesling Wines also match perfect with sweet-sour Asian Food or the spicy Latin American Cuisine. In terms of Diversity, there is hardly another German Grape Variety that can compete with the Riesling.
Resistant and extremely "Terroir-representative"
The nuances and character of a Riesling Wine is highly influenced by its origins soil and microclimate, which is why the term "terroir-expressive" is often used for the description of the Grape. The Riesling Grape Variety has a strong resistance against cold weather conditions, which might be one of the reasons for the big success of Riesling in the rather cool Wine-Growing Region Germany. The Grapes ripen slowly and reach their full fruitiness in late autumn, whereby late Harvest Grapes can be picked as late as January (especially for Eiswein).
Best conditions for the Riesling Berries to grow are stony Slopes that absorb the heat and overlooking River Valleys. It may take up to 130 days for the Riesling to ripe and with bad circumstances, the Harvest can be poor in some years. But in general, the Riesling Grape is easy to maintain and satisfied with stony Soils, less Moisture and moreover, it is relatively frost-resistant.
To gain more knowledge about the rich German Wine Culture visit the Vinhill Wine Blog. You will find constantly published articles about German Wine Regions, Food & Wine Pairings, Grapes and much more. A visit will definitely pay off for Wine Enthusiasts. Download the handy Fact-Sheet about the German Grape Variety Riesling as Pdf-Format.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Sebastian_Kuehn
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