Curious to explore all about Riesling and the best bottles you can add to your wine collection?
White wine made from Riesling grapes allures us with its fragrant aromas, beautiful yellow hue, and the ability to offer a little something for everyone. You’ll come across an impressive range of Riesling wines - from sweet and age-worthy to bone dry and young!
Why is it such a favorite among wine experts and enthusiasts? Which are the best Riesling wines you should buy in 2021?
Let’s explore the different types of Riesling, how it’s made, their taste, and the easiest way to get the finest Riesling bottles!
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)
- A Quick Intro to Riesling
- A Brief History of Riesling
- Riesling Winemaking Process
- Types of Riesling Wine
- Riesling Taste and Characteristics
- Riesling Food Pairings
- Riesling Wine Regions and Wine Styles
- The Best Riesling Wines to Buy in 2021
- Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1959
- Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1959
- Joh. Jos. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2005
- Markus Molitor Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2013
- Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Goldkapsel 1971
- Staatsweingut Kloster Eberbach Erbacher Steinberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1921
- Graf von Schonborn-Schloss Schonborn Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1945
- Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbacher Markobrunn Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1911
- Weingut Keller G-Max Riesling Trocken 2004
- Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Beerenauslese 1971
A Quick Intro to Riesling
The Riesling grape variety is native to the Rhine River region in Germany, but it’s also grown in other parts of the world.
Riesling is famous for producing some of the best late harvest wines in the world - thanks to the grape’s high acidity. The Riesling wine has a rich floral aroma, a light body with citrus and peach flavors, and distinctive petrol notes.
But how did it all begin in the first place?
A Brief History of Riesling
The origins of Riesling vine cultivation can be traced back to the Rhine wine region in 15th century Germany. The first official record of the grape variety is from the storage inventory of Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen.
During that period, Riesling was the wine of the aristocracy and was often stored in wine cellars due to its great aging potential.
By the 1850s it became even more popular and was priced higher than some of the most prestigious Bordeaux and Champagne wines of France.
Riesling Winemaking Process
Let’s take a look at the four different stages of the Riesling winemaking process.
1. Noble Rot
To make a sweet wine, the grapes are left on the vines for longer before harvesting. This way they get affected by the fungus Botrytis cinerea (noble rot), which removes most of the water in the grape bunches.
The grapes’ sugar levels, and aromas become highly concentrated, giving the wine a natural sweetness and intense flavors.
During harvesting, the winemaker is very careful not to damage the grapes.
If the grape skins are damaged, the tannin levels of the grape must increase and disrupts the balance and texture of the wine. To preserve the grape flavors, some winemakers chill the grape must right after harvesting.
The fermentation process happens in stainless steel tanks with a controlled temperature of around 10-18 °C. Riesling does not go through malolactic fermentation. This way, the winemakers preserve the delicate crisp texture and high acidity levels of the wine.
After fermentation, the wine is stored at temperatures just above 0 °C. This removes most of the tartaric acid (acid found in grapes and other fruits) and prevents its crystallization.
After that, the wine is filtered, so all impurities and remains of yeast are removed.
Read more: Want to try a delightful fruity wine? Pick some of these amazing Moscato Wines!
Types of Riesling Wine
There are four main types of Riesling:
- Sweet Riesling: Most German Riesling wines are sweet and can be stored for up to 30 years.
- Semi-sweet Riesling: These Rieslings have balanced sweetness levels, and can age for around 20 years.
- Dry Riesling: This Riesling is mostly produced in Germany, Austria, and the US. Its aging potential is between 5-15 years.
- Sparkling Riesling: That’s a popular type of Riesling most common in Germany. You can find it under the name “Sekt” (a label for German sparkling wine.)
Also read: Here are 10 festive Sparkling Wines to pop open in 2021!
Riesling Taste and Characteristics
Young Riesling wines have a beautiful and rich fruit aroma with noticeable flavors of apricot, green apple, peach, and pear. All Riesling wines have a distinctive high acidity that prolongs their shelf life, adds to their crisp, delicious taste, and enhances their juiciness.
Aged Riesling wines can have subtle petroleum notes that some describe as a distinctive rubber or gasoline smell.
Even though the aroma may be unpleasant for some wine drinkers, it is a sign of high-quality aged wine. This distinctive aroma is a result of the natural compound TDN found in the grapes.
Also, remember to serve your delicious Riesling chilled at around 6 °C!
Riesling Food Pairings
The fact that you can enjoy Riesling in both its dry and sweet versions makes it a great wine to pair with a wide range of foods.
A drier Riesling is the perfect match for delicious spicy foods like a flavorful Thai curry or crispy sesame chicken. You can serve a sweeter Riesling along with a milky cheese and dried fruit platter.
Read more: Curious to find out How Many Calories Are in a Glass of Red Wine?
Riesling Wine Regions and Wine Styles
The Riesling grape variety thrives in cooler climates with clay-rich soil. The flavor profile and characteristics of the wine vary depending on the vineyard terroir.
Here’s what you need to know about Rieslings from the different wine regions:
The main Riesling wine regions in Germany are:
- Mosel Valley
- Rheingau (home to famous Riesling producers like Johannisberg)
In Germany, look out for these six different terms on Riesling wine labels that indicate the sweetness of the wine and the grapes’ ripeness:
- Kabinett: Off-dry to dry Riesling made with fully ripened wine grapes
- Spätlese: Medium-sweet or dry Riesling made with ripe grapes picked a few days after the usual harvest (late harvest wine)
- Auslese: Semi-sweet or sweet Riesling made with selected ripe grape bunches
- Beerenauslese: A sweeter wine made with overripe grapes often affected by noble rot
- Trockenbeerenauslese: A very sweet dessert wine made with fully botrytized Riesling grapes
- Eiswein (Ice Wine): Ice wine can be made with Riesling and other grape varieties. Instead of using noble rot, winemakers freeze the grapes to increase the residual sugar levels and the intensity of the aroma.
The grape variety is mainly grown in the Alsace region of France, which is close to the border with Germany. The Alsace Riesling vineyards are located in the foothills of the Vosges mountain, which protects them from rain and harsh weather conditions.
The Alsatian Riesling is a dry wine with high acidity and citrus and peach aromas.
Riesling is the second most famous white grape varietal in Austria after Grüner Veltliner.
The warmer climate in Austrian wine regions like Wachau are suited for the production of full-bodied Austrian Riesling wines with a higher alcohol content that are just as good as their German counterparts.
Riesling wines have been produced in Australia for over 150 years. The grape variety thrives in the cooler Australian climates of the high altitude Clare and Eden Valleys. Clare Valley Rieslings vary from dry to sweet and have a delightful crisp acidity and peach aromas.
Australian Riesling wines have a distinctive oily texture and zesty lemon aromas with honey undertones.
5. New Zealand
New Zealand Riesling is mostly grown in the cool climate regions of Marlborough, Nelson, and Central Otago. The wines vary from sweet to dry and have a delicate texture with mineral zest undertones.
6. The United States
Finger Lakes in New York is the main Riesling production region in the US. The wines have a distinctive minerality and white peach aromas.
Other Riesling wine regions are California, Oregon, Michigan, and Washington State. They produce light and fresh Rieslings that vary in their sweetness levels.
In Canada, Riesling is mostly used in the production of ice wine. However, the Niagara wine region produces delightful dry to off-dry Riesling wines with distinctive citrus and green apple aromas.
8. Other Regions
Riesling is also grown in:
- South Africa
Read more: Build a modern Wine Cellar to preserve your wine collection!
So, which are the best Riesling wines you should get hold of in 2021?
The Best Riesling Wines to Buy in 2021
1. Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1959
This delightful Riesling is one of the finest German white wines and a favorite of any wine enthusiast. It has distinctive aromas of beeswax, stone fruit, and minerals with fresh lemon undertones.
Price of Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1959: $30,826
2. Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1959
Joh. Jos. Prum is one of the most famous German wine producers noted for making well-balanced, long-aging Rieslings. This wine made in the village of Wehlener is over half a century old and has developed soft melon and apple flavors with a well-preserved citrus aroma.
Price of Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1959: $7,837
3. Joh. Jos. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2005
That’s another exquisite Riesling from Joh. Jos. Prum, this time from the village of Graacher. The wine has a delightful dried apricot flavor with a toffee aftertaste and an oily texture.
Price of Joh. Jos. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Trockenbeerenausese 2005: $5,900
4. Markus Molitor Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2013
This lush and delicate drink is one of the most expensive Mosel Riesling wines. It has high acidity with honey and peach overtones and a subtle aroma of caramel and vanilla.
Price of Markus Molitor Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2013: $5,193
5. Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Goldkapsel 1971
This is a wonderful Riesling that stands out with a distinctive petroleum aroma. It has well-defined prune, persimmon, and apple flavors with a long-lasting honey aftertaste.
Price of Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Goldkapsel 1971: $5,173
6. Staatsweingut Kloster Eberbach Erbacher Steinberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1921
That’s a sweet Riesling from Rheingau, Germany. It is an elegant wine that combines gentle peach and apple fruit flavors with honey and mineral aromas and a hint of petroleum.
Price of Staatsweingut Kloster Eberbach Erbacher Steinberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1921: $7,263
7. Graf von Schonborn-Schloss Schonborn Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1945
This is another delightful Riesling from Rheingau. The wine has a flavorful bouquet of raisin, apricot, and acacias aromas that gently soften its sweetness and make it a great treat.
Price of Graf von Schonborn-Schloss Schonborn Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1945: $6,009
8. Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbacher Markobrunn Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1911
This sweet Riesling has a distinctive tropical fruit flavor and a pleasant lime zest aftertaste. Its medium body and high acidity make it the perfect match for spicy dishes, seafood, or even fruity desserts.
Price of Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbacher Markobrunn Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1911: $9,927
9. Weingut Keller G-Max Riesling Trocken 2004
This is one of the most sought-after German Riesling wines. It stands out with its orange, apricot, and grapefruit flavors accompanied by a slight kerosene aroma that is a sign of superior quality.
Price of Weingut Keller G-Max Riesling Trocken 2004: $3,941
10. Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Beerenauslese 1971
This sweet wine is a remarkable Riesling made with overripe grape bunches affected by noble rot. It has developed complex honey, lemon, and peach flavors with distinctive kerosene undertones.
Price of Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Beerenauslese 1971: $7,211
So, is Riesling wine worth investing in for the long term?
Investing in Riesling Wine
Riesling wine bottles are a great long-term investment option because of their great aging potential.
Some of the most expensive wines are the botrytized Rieslings, which can last for over 100 years if stored properly. Fine examples of such wines are the Joh. Jos. Prum Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese and Karthäuser Riesling Trocken.
Riesling price appreciation
Some of the finest Riesling wines have experienced a steep increase in their prices.
- Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese from Mosel, accessible only at auctions, jumped in price from $9,900 to $14,000+ between 2017 and 2019.
- Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Mosel surged from it’s 2017 average price of $3990+ to $5000 in 2019.
- Weingut Keller G-Max Riesling Trocken from Rheinhessen has enjoyed increasing popularity since 2014, and its price since then multiplied over four times from $619 to $2541.
Riesling in Auctions
Riesling wines have been sensational at auctions.
A rare methuselah bottle of Doctor Riesling Spätlese was sold for $4,394 at the VDP.Mosel auction in 2017. Two days later, a beautiful magnum bottle of the highly praised 1921 Kupfergrube Riesling was sold for a whopping $16,063.
Wondering where you can find a rare bottle of investment-worthy Riesling?
Your smartest option is to try an online wine investment platform like Vinovest!
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Start Building Your Profitable Fine Wine Portfolio!
Riesling is a delicious wine and some bottles can be stored for decades. So you can either pop it open at a special occasion or sell it whenever it skyrockets in value.
The easiest way to find, buy, store, and sell your bottles of elegant Riesling or other fine wines is through a world-class wine investing platform like Vinvoest.
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