In an article that appeared The Sydney Morning Herald’s website recently, leading Australian wine critic Huan Hooke writes of Rielsing as follows: “the varietal is somewhat less than fashionable and sales have been flat for years, even though it remains the darling white grape of winemakers, merchants and writers. Indeed, it’s almost as though winemakers have thumbed their collective noses at the unheeding public and decided to indulge their passion for riesling regardless. They continue their quest to improve their wines while adding new styles”. So a bit like here, then.
There were 211ha of Riesling planted in South Africa at the end of 2010, the equivalent of 0.2% of the national vineyard and making it the 27th most planted variety. What you call a niche category. Even so, it is indeed a subject of fascination for wine geeks and if you go in for the stuff, then you shouldn’t miss the “Riesling Rocks” festival at Hartenberg this Saturday where most of the top producers will be exhibiting. Tickets are R120 a person and are available from Webtickets.co.za.
Sadly, I’m unable to attend but entering into the spirit of the occasion, I opened 2006 from a Paul Cluver Estate in Elgin last night. Deep yellow in colour, it showed good fruit expression, thick texture and crisp acidity. In addition to citrus, green apple and peach flavours, a touch of honey. Lots going on but somehow lacking true finesse. Score: 15.5/20. Perhaps Riesling outside of Germany will always fail to be entirely convincing a bit like Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy.