Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine and Mosel regions of Germany. It was first planted in Australia in 1838 at William Macarthur’s Camden Park property west of Sydney but since flourished under the care of German immigrants in South Australia’s wine regions, in particular the Clare Valley and Eden Valley.
Riesling is a highly aromatic and fruity grape variety. Throughout history, Riesling has been revered for its vibrant personality, its pure fruit flavours, its diversity of styles, its ability to show you where it was grown (terroir), its versatility with food and its ability to age for decades.
About the Variety
Riesling is one of the few grapes that can produce wines in the complete sweetness range, from totally dry to extremely sweet, or anything in between, and still maintain its distinctive fruit character and fine structure. It has no need for the cosmetic enhancements of new oak, malolactic fermentation or high alcohol.
Australian Rieslings are noted for their oily texture and citrus fruit flavours in their youth and a smooth balance of freshness and acid as they age, producing toasty, honeycomb and lime aromas and flavours.
Rieslings purity gives it a transparency that allows the character of the soil, climate and culture of its winegrowing region to shine through. Adaptable to a wide range of soil types, the vine’s highest vigour will be on fertile soils with high moisture availability.
Riesling performs best in cool regions, affording the fruit a slow, even ripening period, which allows for a greater concentration of flavours at moderate sugar levels.
South Australia’s Clare Valley and Eden Valley are Australia’s most noted Riesling region, consistently producing elegant, fragrant and finely structured wines. Victoria’s Grampians and Great Western vineyards have a long history of producing elegant Riesling while Western Australia’s Great Southern region (in particular Mt Barker, Frankland River and Porongorup), produce intense examples of the varietal.
Up and coming regions include the Canberra District and Tasmania with the later perhaps closest to the German style with some residual sugar.
Riesling is a versatile wine for pairing with food, because of its balance of sugar and acidity. Due to its purity, it allows the wine to enhance food flavours rather than competing with them or covering them up.
Seafood is a natural match for young, dry Riesling with oysters and sushi a perfect pairing. Its acidity also allows it to cut through deep fried seafood dishes.
Lighter Rieslings with a bit of sweetness and low alcohol cool the palate and match perfectly with the lighter texture of spicy Asian cuisine, such as salt and pepper calamari or chicken chilli stir fry.
Very sweet, dessert style Rieslings are gorgeous to drink on their own, with fruit-based desserts, or with rich blue cheeses.