Germany

Riesling par excellence

Rheinhessen Riesling grapes on Klaus-Peter Keller's vines
Rheinhessen Riesling grapes on Klaus-Peter Keller's vines

Since the 1997 vintage we have seen a complete revival of Germany’s fortunes as a producer of world-class wine.

Led by the aristocratic Riesling variety and a growing band of first class producers, the country finally seems to be enjoying the recognition it truly deserves. It is a fact that, without exception, the British journalists, sommeliers and trade buyers are some of Riesling’s most loyal and persistent customers, clamouring for wine from the likes of JJ Prum, Fritz Haag, Donnhoff, Keller and Carl von Schubert. This most noble of wines is not only utterly delicious, but in today's modern, fast-moving world of over consumption, these delicate Rieslings are refreshing and light, 'weighing in’ at anything between 7.5% to 11.5% alcohol – a great antidote to the more recent trend of overly full-bodied, alcoholic wines. The variety is also greater than ever. Traditionally, the finest wines have come from the sweeter Kabinett, Spatlese or super-rich late-harvest categories. The quality at these levels continues to blossom, particularly with rising stars such as Zilliken in the Saar and Schloss Lieser in the Mosel. However, growers like Horst Sauer of Franken or Schönleber of the Nahe are proving that there is a deserved place for dry 'Trocken' wine, too, with its tension, vital and ripe fruity flavours it can be a great match for the increasing variations of Asian fusion cooking currently so fashionable. Whatever the style, modern Riesling's irrepressibly stimulating, incisive characteristics combined with an appealing fruitiness make for the world’s most exciting, best value white wine. In the red corner, the rise and rise of German Spatburgunder continues apace. Growers like August Kesseler in the Rheingau, whose steep, slate Assmannshauser Hollenberg vineyard is said to have been planted over a thousand year ago, are showing the world just how exciting German Pinot Noir can be. These are wines that need to be tasted to be believed.