Riesling Wines

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Riesling is a white grape variety that’s known to be grown in the countries of Germany; the province of Alsace, France; Austria and northern Italy. The grape variety has been historically planted and grown in those countries ever since its taste had been appreciated by the different winemakers.

The very first documented report regarding the Riesling grape variety was during 1435 which was the year when the storage inventory of a small principality on the Rhine listed the acquisition of six barrels of Riesling wine from a Russelsheim vintner. The wine was first called riesslingen at the time and the modern wording of "Riesling" simply evolved and was documented in 1552 when it was mentioned in the Latin herbal of Hieronymus Bock.

The most extravagant and costly wines which are made from Riesling are those late harvest dessert wines which are essentially produced by simply letting the grapes hang onto the vines well past the normal picking schedule. Because of several processes and transformations that essentially remove water, the wine becomes more concentrated and consequently presents a richer layer on the palate. Some of these methods are done through the means of the "noble rot" fungus or Botrytis cinerea.

Another method is through freezing the case of ice wine wherein the water is removed and the resulting wine becomes richer. One of the consequences of this is that the wines have more sugar. There have been radical cases where there were several hundred grams per litre. The resulting wine also has more acid content in it in order to balance all of the sugar, more flavor and complexity all in all. These essential elements all merge into one of the most long-lived of all white wines.

The great advantage of using "noble rot" was noticed way back in the 18th century at Schloss Johannisberg. The Abbey of Fulda sent word to permit the picking of grapes in his vineyard but it arrived too late and the grapes had already began to rot. However, when they made it into wine, it turned out that the wine that came from those supposedly rotten grapes were still of excellent quality.

Because of the fragile nature of the Riesling grapes, the winemaking process needs further attention and definitely requires even more special handling during the harvesting process. This is to ensure that crushing and the bruising of the grape skins do not happen. If this happens, the broken skins could eventually have tannin seep into the juice, giving it a noticeably coarse taste which will eventually throw off balance the Riesling’s range of flavors and bouquet.

Riesling is a type of wine that is best consumed during its freshest states. The grapes and the must may be chilled  every now and then throughout the vinification process. Overall, the Riesling is a terrific type of grape variety. It produces classy wine and it tastes excellent whether it was picked right on time or purposely left to rot. That, in itself, makes it literally a wine for the ages.


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