Gathan Beaga

Rieslings I have loved

The last Riesling I had. Not bad, either.I love Rieslings. In the last two years of trying to keep track of all the wines I’ve tasted, Riesling accounts for one in five wines tasted (with only Pinot Noir exceeding Riesling at one in four!). Riesling is so variable in flavour and scent; style and sweetness: and this is what makes it interesting.

New Zealand has plenty to choose from… and sometimes these can be had at superb prices too. Here’s five I’ve ranked highly in the last couple years.

  • Larry McKenna’s Escarpment Riesling is a favourite of mine, though sadly his superb 2008 has long since sold out at Moore Wilson’s (an insane $15 a bottle: no wonder!) – my notes say “A little of apples on the nose, honey and grapefruit in the mouth, off-dry and completely mouthfilling yet somehow clean and refreshing at the same time.”
  • Black Ridge, whose absolutely lovely 2006 Riesling was recently being sold by one of the North Island mail order wine shops for $11.99 – fantastic value for a now nicely aged vintage. My notes: “Pale straw yellow; on the nose lovely fruit, a little peach even. This is one to roll around in the mouth: dry; a little of those kerosene notes; lots of citrusy acids reminiscent of grapefruit, and a little bitterness at the end.” Keep an eye out for the Valli Old Vine Riesling: it’s also made with these grapes.
  • And who doesn’t like Forrest Estate’s the Doctors Riesling? At $18.50 it’s a little more expensive than some of these others, but it’s worth trying. This is a beautiful sweet yet crisp low (relatively) alcohol wine which was a huge surprise to me when I first tried the 2009: “Very pale in colour, a full nose—even my kids could tell me about the apples in there. In the mouth more apples and some lovely citrusy acid. Very very drinkable, especially chilled on hot summer days.”
  • Waimea Estates Dry Riesling 2005 was a $10.99 find for me at the local New World a while back: “Straw yellow and off-dry, honey and citrus in the mouth but very well balanced and clean with just the honey remaining at the very end.” On the strength of this, I should follow up on their later vintages if I can—I bought the ‘07 for $12.99 from the same supermarket but haven’t had a chance to try it yet.
  • Alexia Riesling 2007 is a $10.99 Wairarapa find from the same mail order house that supplied the Black Ridge. " Yellow, off-dry. Honeyed nose with amazing citrusy mouth reminding me of a breakfast grapefruit. Beautiful. I want to find more, but it’s not listed on their website."

Clearly though there are many many more good NZ Rieslings out there that I need to try. I’d love to hear some more recommendations…