A collector’s favourite, a well-made Riesling can age longer than any other grape variety, red or white. Riesling grows slowly and needs a long time to ripen in order to develop its flavours fully. Cool regions are best, where it can retain its acidity very late into the growing season. Fully ripe Rieslings have the density and structure to age for many years due to its outstanding fruit concentration and naturally high acidity.
Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine valley of Germany. An aromatic grape, this variety exhibits flowery, perfumed scents as well as high acidity. Riesling was recently estimated to be the world’s 20th most grown variety with an increasing trend. In terms of quality wines, it is usually included in the “top 3” white wine varieties along with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The character of Riesling wines is greatly influenced by the wine’s place of origin.
No other wine can match Riesling for its stylistic range. It is one of the few grapes that can produce wines in a broad sweetness range, from totally dry to extremely sweet, or anything in between. Riesling is easy to drink with complexity, lemony and mineral notes. When aged, it will show lots of baked apple flavour with a full bouquet. It is a vibrant wine and has a slim profile when younger. Riesling accentuates gently over time.
Riesling is particularly well suited for slate and sandy clay soil. In Ontario, Riesling is commonly used for Icewine, where the wine is noted for its breadth and complexity. The Niagara region is a major producer of icewine in general, often rivaling Germany. Late harvest wines and some sparkling wines are produced with Riesling in Niagara, but the largest share of production remains table wines.
Ontario’s warm summer climate adds a layer of richness to the wines. In fact, Niagara’s summer heat makes for bright wines and often shows up in dry, styled versions. Many Ontario producers and wine lovers will confirm that Niagara’s best offerings come from the Niagara Escarpment region which encompasses the Short Hills Bench, 20 Mile Bench and Beamsville Bench.
Riesling is ideally suited for cooler climates for two key reasons; One, it buds late so it avoids the pitfall of spring frosts. Two, it has naturally thicker bark than most other grapevines, making it able to avoid a damaging cold winter, like the ones we have here in Southern Ontario.
Riesling is the 20th most planted variety in terms of total acreage, at 120,000 acres worldwide. Where is it most planted? Take a look at these impressive numbers:
Germany (52,380 acres)
Alsace, France (8,347 acres)
Washington State (5,370 acres)
Australia (4,114 acres)
California (2,470 acres)
Ontario (1,650 acres)
Oregon (797 acres)
New York, Finger Lakes (700 acres)
South Africa (211 acres)
It is one of the few wines that can stand up to the stronger flavours and spices of Thai and Chinese cuisine. The fruity and mineral notes pair surprisingly well with vegetable and egg dishes and enhance Asian-inspired flavours. Plus, it can be paired with traditional meals like fish, chicken or pork. Our winemaker’s personal favourite pairing with the Riesling variety is using Riesling Icewine to glaze salmon on a BBQ.
Make Riesling a favourite this season by choosing from our selection below: