Stereotypes may be the source of some cracking jokes but that they so often reinforce a negative idea of a place or peoples can be extremely frustrating. Just the other night we were out for dinner with friends and the wine list came to me for a decision.
I picked out a 2009 d’Arenberg Stump Jump Riesling (£9.50 www.slurp.co.uk) that is an excellent Australian dry white. I really like the vivacity of fruit; aromas of clementines, lime and apple set the scene for a delicious mouthful of crisp, tangy fruit. In short, it’s a cracking wine.
I was both pleased and disheartened at the response to the wine.
On the upside, everyone loved it! Yet everyone admitted that with Riesling on the label, nobody would have ordered it had I not been there. Too strong are the memories of the nasty stuff that was imported decades ago and the bad headaches that, apparently, came from drinking it.
In truth, my support of Riesling in this wine column is becoming as old as the negative memories themselves.
Wine critics have been flying the Riesling flag for years and yet we’ve never fully succeeded in moving it right into the spotlight.
Before I give you some suggestions for must-try Rieslings can I get one little niggle out of the way? Riesling is pronounced ‘rees (a similar sound to fleece)-ling’. Okay, so now you know how good it can be and how to pronounce it. All that’s left is to go out and buy some.
The delicate nature of Riesling does rather lend itself to summer drinking so it’ll be particularly pleasing if we get some sunshine too.
Let me begin by going straight to Germany where some of the world’s finest and longest-lived Riesling wines are made. Dr Loosen Estate Riesling 2010 (£8.99 www.oxfordwine.co.uk) is a benchmark example of the grape’s vivid fruit character and fresh style.
It also demonstrates another brilliant Riesling quality; that it can produce delicious wines with very modest alcohol levels. This one comes in at just 8.5 per cent.
From New Zealand comes the Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling 2010 (£8.54 www.waitrosewine.com) that has a more tropical fruit with a floral edge too. I tried this with a smoked chicken and mango salad the other day and was very pleased with the combination of flavours.
At £6.99 (www.marksandspencer.com) the Australian Moonbridge Riesling 2009 is an attractive option too. It is — once again — dry in style but the fruits do have a more honeyed flavour and it does feel richer in the palate.
I personally adore those Rieslings that have smoky fruits with a strong mineral quality.
The Austrian Domane Wachau Achleiten Smaragd Riesling 2009 (£18.04 www.waitrosewine.com) is one such superstar and as I have been lucky to taste older vintages of this wine I can confirm that it ages magnificently well.