One Man, 40 Rieslings

Dissecting a misunderstood grape, one bottle at a time

Intense and perfumed on the nose, with lime fruit framed by gardenia like floral notes; a suggestion of sweet vanilla and orange cream. Intense with super vibrant acids supporting really pretty ripe peach, lemon and green apple fruit that has a faintly candied edge. There's a little sugar here, but the intense acidity deftly whacks it to the ground and kicks it while it's down. The finish is all blazing citrus fruit riding a lightning bolt across a dry stony riverbed before smashing into a fruit basket filled with pears, apricots and tangerines topped with a hint of sweet spearmint. Maybe not the most complex Riesling out there but certainly one of the most fun. Shazaam! 93pts

Quite perfumed on the nose, with aromas of apple blossoms, dry tree bark, quince and limes.
While painfully young, this shows great cut in the mouth with a nice edge of richness, though it remains medium to light bodied. There's a lovely rush of sour apple, lime and raw quince flavors on the palate, with gentle floral accents and a hint of spice emerging on the back end. This finishes with exceptional length and brightness, and a faint hint of bitterness that serves as contrast to the deep fruit. A lot of depth here and excellent potential for development. This rocks. 92pts

2012 Jim Barry Riesling The Lodge Dry Riesling Clare Valley 12% $20
Tight and earthy on the nose, with early notes of lilacs followed by minty top notes over guava and melon aromas. This is powerful yet at the same time remains subtle. Flows across the palate; elegant and pure with lovely racy citrus flavors that hint of tropical fruits. The acidity is very strong yet superbly integrated within the rich fruit and yet this remains medium bodied in the mouth. You get a sense of dry extract and power here, but the wine never loses its poise, delivering melon, apple and papaya flavors on the long finish that ends with a salty twang of minerality and lip smacking acids. This is quite young, with excellent potential. 92pts

Dusty on the nose with faint hints of waxy apricot fruit over citrus and apple aromas. A lovely blend of sweetness and vibrant acidity pops on entry, delivering peach fruit drenched in lime flavors and edged with a nice mineral cut. Perhaps just a bit sweet for Kabinett, but it’s lovely with energy in the mouth and lovely flashes of sweet orange on the back end that drift over the focused, sweet/tart finish with nice dusty slate notes. Lovely wine. 92pts

This is lovely on the nose, deep and focused, drawing you into the glass with faintly dusty slate and spice aromas framing the core of melon rind and lemon pith fruit. This is just so tense on the palate, with vibrant acids just covered by a veneer of sweetness. The fruit is ripe and fresh, citrusy with green apple peel accents, but it competes with the strong mineral quality here which scrapes slate across the tongue and onto the long, sweet apple and faintly apricot-tinged yet mineral-dominated finish. This is exciting in the mouth. 91pts

This has an arresting note of sweet jasmine-laced lemon preserves on the nose that gains nuanced orange, peach and pineapple complexity with air. Just lovely. Pretty sweet in the mouth, this is rich and powerful with an explosion of apricot and peach on entry that is followed by tropical orange and pineapple flavors that finish with nearly candied sweetness and honey flavors. I shouldn't like this, I should think that this is too sweet, and if I drank much more I would think that, but in small doses this is delicious. A bit of a fruit bomb but with shadings of mineral and herb adding complexity. The finish is a touch short if one has to nitpick. 90pts

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Top Ten Best Rieslings

Alexana Riesling Willamette Valley Revana Vineyard (2011)
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Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling Eden Valley (2012)
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Jim Barry the Lodge Hill Dry Riesling (2010)
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Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett Riesling (2011)
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Dr. Fischer Riesling Kabinett Ockfener Bockstein (2010)
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Georg Albrecht Schneider Riesling Spätlese Niersteiner Hipping (2011)
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Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Riesling Spätlese Wehlener Sonnenuhr (2010)
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Dr. Thanisch Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Kabinett (2010)
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Wittmann Riesling Trocken (2010)
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Balthasar Ress Riesling Trocken Von Unserm (2010)
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Mentioned in this article


  • I had a 2009 Eifel Pfiefer Kabinett last night that paired exceptionally well with a pork loin roast with port & fig sauce. I was searching specifically for something to serve with the roast so I can't give any nuanced details about the wine by itself but it brought the entire meal together beautifully including the spinanch salad with strawberries, blue cheese crumbles and walnuts with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing; the baked sweet potato chips; and the pork roast.

    Mar 14, 2013 at 3:04 PM

  • Snooth User: winekrep
    143676 27

    I remember drinking some superb Austrian Rieslings in the mid eighties that had been chaptalized to raise the alcohol level...they were ten years old at the time and amazing. Haven't seen any Riesling specific wines from Austria in some time. I do recall that Rieslings age very well and develop remarkable noses over time. As a chef it's wonderful to find wines that are food compatible and Spatlese and drier examples work well.

    Mar 14, 2013 at 3:56 PM

  • Did Alsace just become a little, insignificant producer if Rieslings? Very surprised there was no mention.

    Mar 14, 2013 at 4:02 PM

  • Snooth User: hestamm
    1176940 24

    Riesling is my absolute favorite white wine; the sweeter the better. Living in Idaho, I have access to the wonderful rieslings of Chateau Ste Michelle, Hogue, & other NW producers, with most priced in the $6-10 range. It's not that I disdain the beerenausleses or even the spateleses from Germany or the Alsace, it's that I don't want to pay the freight. But my tastes are probably not typical--I love big bold tannic reds, over-the-top oaky & buttery chards (think Rombauer as an entry level), port, oloroso sherry, & incredible sweet rieslings & gewurtztraminers. Fried chicken goes best with either a great champagne or a sweet riesling. Go figure.

    Mar 14, 2013 at 10:46 PM

  • Snooth User: RBrumer
    772167 24

    hestamm......what about you're native St Chappelle??
    have not tasted in some time, but I see Blake Grey gave the Riesling a good review last year. New owners now with Precept?????

    Mar 15, 2013 at 1:15 PM

  • Snooth User: hestamm
    1176940 24

    Oh, St Chappelle most certainly. There are also more boutique brands like the Snake River Winery that do wonders with the grape (but pricier, too).

    Mar 15, 2013 at 1:54 PM

  • I visited Georg Albrecht Schneider and wrote about my visit on schiller-wine: Cheers

    Mar 15, 2013 at 4:37 PM

  • Pewsey Vale and the Jim Barry Lodge Hill are two of my favorites! I love the diversity of this wonderful grape variety and its ability to pair with such an array of foods from oysters to spicy thai dishes. Australia's ability to produce gloriously dry wines that show true examples of local 'terroir' whilst expressing that wonderful zingy acidity and varietal character. Pewsey Vale and Jim Barry Wines have perfected this style! Viva la Riesling!

    Mar 15, 2013 at 6:09 PM

  • Snooth User: Sweetstuff
    Hand of Snooth
    139592 254

    Is the Docotr Thanisch wine from the estate that belongs to the VDP or the other Thanisch estate?

    John Trombley

    Mar 17, 2013 at 5:06 PM

  • Snooth User: Sweetstuff
    Hand of Snooth
    139592 254

    Good to see that you've finally gotten a review in for a Michigan Riesling. The northern Lake Michigan Shore near Traverse City is an ideal RIesling territory and the vines, now decades old, are now mature enough to make great wines.

    The 'unusual' flavor you speak of is not so unusual after all. It's simply the resinous 'terroir' note common to all low-yield dry whites, especially Riesling, from this area. I often liken it to the smell of fresh handmade paper, and is common to Riesling grown on mixed glacial till and fossilized coral reef such was what is called 'Petoskey Stone'. A little later harvest balances this out, but most of the dry whites from this house, Bower's Harbor, Left Foot Charley, and several other high-quality producers on the two peninsulas (Old Mission and Leelanau) so intensely surrounded by lake effect. The wines to look out for are the small-lot single vineyard productions that the younger winemakers are using to showcase their talents, and which are a relative steal in terms of quality.

    Mar 17, 2013 at 5:20 PM

  • Snooth User: Pfificus
    600233 29

    I certainly agree with bikesnwine. Alsace excells in making dry Rieslings, pairing beutifully with a broad varieties of dishes. The great ones even age very well despite their dryness.

    Mar 19, 2013 at 3:21 PM

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