What does Jancis Robinson, one of the world’s leading wine critics, consider to be the “world’s greatest white wine grape”? Not Chardonnay, not Sauvignon Blanc, not Pinot Blanc, not Viognier but Riesling. Riesling is one of the noble grape varieties which originated in Rhine Germany and is known for its complexity, versatility and variety. It’s capable of producing an extraordinary variety of white wine styles from still to sparkling and also ranging in sweetness from dry to very sweet. To herald in summer, Toronto Vintners amassed a variety of dry Rieslings from some of the leading Riesling wine producing areas in the world for its tasting on June 16, 2015 – Alsace France, Mosel and Platz in Germany, S. Australia and close to home - Niagara. We were accompanied in our enjoyment of these wines by guest speaker, Alex Palmer of Vinexx.
2011 Charles Baker, Picone Vineyard Riesling (Niagara, Canada) $35
“The 2011 Picone Vineyard Riesling from Charles Baker is a beautifully fragrant, tight and minerally wine, very much in a Mosel idiom with it's seemingly delicate nature yet deceptive depth and power. 11% alcohol is seamlessly integrated, and this retains a sense of transparency: pure, ethereal, as heavy as a feather. 20 grams of residual sugar are all but impossible to detect thanks to a pH of below 3 (2.95) and total acidity of 9 grams - there are few places in the world where such balance can be achieved. Very good to excellent length. Perhaps Baker's most accomplished Riesling to date, where the vineyard site is given maximum expression and the winemaker himself fades into the back-story.” Tasted April 2013. John Szabo. 92/100 Winealign.com
Cave Spring’s top Riesling. “With Riesling being such a vibrant wine it’s wonderful to see what poise and subtlety it can also achieve. This is quite special, with a mild, gentle, complex nose of fresh apple, lemon, mineral, fresh herbs – all intricately layered and nuanced. Light to medium bodied, lacy, fresh, and almost perfectly balanced. Lovely fruit and follow through to excellent length. Don’t overmatch with aggressive recipes – its appeal is in its poise, not strength.” D. Lawrason (DL 07/08)
“From the Gaisberg and Osterberg Grand Crus, which are essentially limestone sites. 2007 is one of the driest Frédéric Emile's ever made, with just 0,7 grams residual sugar, and is the vintage currently on sale (it's customary chez Trimbach to hold this cuvée 4-5 years before release). Jean Trimbach compares this wine to Chablis, and recommends decanting before serving. It's astonishingly still completely fresh, with just the merest hint of lime, super tight, riveting acids and bone dry palate. Great length. Really fine wine here.” Tasted November 2013. John Szabo. 93/100 Winealign.com
“A surprisingly advanced, earthy, very stony, terroir-driven riesling from the Saering grand cru, with substantial flesh and depth on a bone dry, mid-weight frame. Length is excellent. Very solid, original wine. Drink or hold. Tasted October 2014. Value Rating: ***” John Szabo. 92/100 Winealign.com
“The colour is evolving in yellow gold. The nose is intense, spicy and flinty with some matchstick character, petrol and dried yellow fruit. There is an evergreen forest and mintiness as well that I like in German riesling. It's light to mid-weight, crisp, mouth-watering and dry with a hint of spritz. The finish is quite bitter and mineral driven.” Excellent length. Best 2015 to 2020. Tasted June 2013. David Lawrassson. 90/100 Winealign.com
“Displaying in site-typical fashion a more rarified, high-toned, and ultimately more subtle expression of herbs and flowers than is found in the corresponding Pechstein, Burklin-Wolf’s 2009 Forster Jesuitengarten Riesling trocken GC – with mint, chamomile, and lavender allied to citrus oils and distilled pit fruit essences – manages to project both greater richness and a juicier brightness. Grapefruit, lime, tangerine and apricot suffused with herbs and chalk, inform a palate of superb textural refinement and exhilarating persistence. This should merit following for 12-15 years. “ David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate #193 Feb 2011. 93/`00 Drink 2011-2026 www.erobertparker.com
2012 Jim Barry Riesling, The Lodge Hill, (Clare Valley, Australia) $26
“The 2012 The Lodge Hill Dry Riesling reveals an intense lime juice, grapefruit and lemon peel nose with an herbal undercurrent. Light to medium-bodied, dry and crisp it has a nice suggestion of silkiness to the texture and a long finish. Approachable now, it should cellar to 2020+.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown, eRobertParker.com #204, Dec 2012. 91/100 Drink 2012-2020 www.erobertparker.com
2011 Grosset Springvale Watervale Riesling (South Australia) $38
Light straw-green; as ever, a more open and expressive bouquet early in its life, the palate likewise more effusive, with ripe lime/lemon fruit running through the length of its immaculately balanced palate. Drink [until] 2021. Score: 95 (James Halliday, winecompanion.com.au, Feb. 7, 2012) “The 2011 Grosset Springvale Riesling has wonderful, ethereal aromatics, fragrant lemongrass and freshly squeezed lime, intense lime pith and pure lemony flavours with some wet pebble minerals notes, a mid-palate fleshiness before its tight, lean structure follows through to a cleansing minerally finish that is slatey, powerfully focused and piercingly long.” Winemaker’s tasting notes.