To continue our series of tasting games, we will now focus on Riesling – after all, we have just kicked off the Summer of Riesling so we feel it’s important for us to explain why Riesling from Austria is so special.
First thing is first, the stats. Riesling in Austria makes up just over 4% of the total production at 1,835ha, most of which is located in the area of Vienna and Niederosterreich along the Danube River where primary rock soils are plentiful. Despite having small plantings, though, Austria is considered one of the top Riesling-producing countries in the world.
Throughout these areas you can expect to powerful and age-worthy examples of the grape that are crafted for food. Depending on the area from which the grapes originate, Austrian Riesling generally has a big focus on minerality and will portray flavors of flint and slate due to the soils particularly in the Wachau, Traisental, Kremstal, and Kamptal.
Riesling is a late-ripening grape which results in a high concentration of flavor, though Austrian Riesling is almost always dry with the exception of dessert wines. Austrian Riesling is noted as being high-acid, mineral, dry, and powerful, but still quite round and light on its feet. In its youth, it is known for its stone fruit character, floral notes, and minerality, but as it ages it will take on a heavier scent of roses and, at times, petrol.
In certain years, Botrytis aka Noble Rot, will infect the grapes. These grapes will then be used to create Auslese and Beerenauslese wines which as prized. In the Wachau, Riesling is classified by the Codex Wachau – Steinfeder, Federspiel, Smaragd – and it has long been one of the most important grape varieties of the region.
Austrian Riesling is perfect company to grilled fish dishes, of course, but it also pairs nicely with roasts. For the summer, it’s also perfect company for spicy foods, such as Asian cuisine, or Al fresco styled foods such as ceviche or sashimi.