My fondest memories with Riesling is going to the beach with a small picnic and a bottle of good, dry Riesling. Rieslings are generally lower in alcohol, which makes it the perfect drink for being in the sun! LORIE O’SULLIVAN
Add Kamloops, British Columbia to the places on the planet producing delicious Riesling. Newcomer Harper’s Trail made a juicy and appealing white from its first commerical crop of grapes from vines planted in 2008 in what’s dubbed the Thompson River Valley region.
Owners Ed and Vicki Collett converted cattle grazing land into a 20-acre vineyard, planting vines on cliff sides to take advantage of the site’s limestone rich soils. Their opening inventory includes a Field Blend White, made with Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc, and a rosé, which is a blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The single vineyard Riesling is the star.
Made at Okanagan Crush Pad by winemaker Michael Bartier, Harper’s Trail 2011 Riesling Thadd Springs Vineyard (British Columbia, $19.99, okanagancrushpad.com) offers good, clean peach and apple aromas and flavours. The obvious sweetness on the palate is nicely balanced by racy acidity and abundant minerality. It’s an impressive first effort that represents one small step for man, one giant leap for Rieslingkind.
2027 Cellars‘ Kevin Panagapka says that Riesling is the shining star in Niagara. As an exciting young winemaker specializing in Riesling and other cool climate varieties, he would know.
It wasn’t surprising when Vineland Estates Winery swept the gold medals in both the dry and semi-dry Riesling categories at the recent Ontario Wine Awards. Their world-class Rieslings are created with elements of history and passion. Located on the Beamsville Bench, the St. Urban Vineyard is modelled after the St. Urban-Hof vineyard in Germany and was planted by its founder Hermann Weis.
Today, the winery is true to its roots and produces outstanding Rieslings in the Germanic style, including its flagship wine, Vineland Estates 2009 St. Urban Riesling ($19.95, 038117, vineland.com). With prominent citrus, green apple and mineral notes on the nose, this fresh and lively wine is well-balanced – the key to third-generation winemaker Brian Schmidt’s creations. The puckering mouthfeel is complemented with flavours of pear, peach and lime and has a long finish.
Try it with white fish, chicken or fresh summer salads. Better yet, if you love German Riesling and are gearing up for the Canada Day long weekend, grab a bottle and turn on the Euro Cup and experience the best of both worlds. ANDREA FUJARCZUK
Riesling fun fact: Riesling often undergoes a process called cold stabilization.
It is a method used to remove insoluble deposits in the wine before bottling. The wine is stored after fermentation at a temperature just above freezing in metal tanks for one to two weeks until the majority of tartaric acid has crystallized. These crystals appear when the wine is exposed to cold temperatures. Although these crystals (often referred to as “wine diamonds”) are safe for consumption, consumers may find them to be unattractive or mistake them for broken glass. After this procedure is completed, the wine is filtered to remove any remaining yeast or impurities.
So since these crystals are harmless, is cold stabilization an unnecessary process or is it completely essential? I personally prefer a smooth, sediment-free glass of Riesling. ANUPA SIMON
“With time, with learning, you come to Riesling and you’re like, ‘Holy sh*t. This encapsulates everything that I define a great wine by.’”
Paul Grieco, co-owner Hearth Restaurant and Terroir Wine Bars
We have come to know and love fresh and fruity Rieslings, in large part because the grape is so honest. It doesn’t hide anything, including its faults. The innate purity of this genuine grape makes cork taint extremely obvious.
How do many wineries avoid sending their flavourful whites on the road to ruin? Screwcaps! This alternative closure keeps wines fresh and pure, while avoiding any problems a cork might present. So, toss your corkscrew aside and start twisting, because faultless Riesling is the best kind of Riesling.
Paul Grieco, co-owner of Hearth restaurant and the Terroir wine bars in New York City, doesn’t just enjoy Riesling, he’s fanatical about it. In fact, he describes his Summer of Riesling initiative as an über love affair in Technicolor with the world’s greatest grape.
For the fifth year in a row, unless you’re willing to spring for a bottle, the only white wine option you’ll have at Terroir this summer will be Riesling. And at Hearth, an entire half of the white wine list will be devoted to the aromatic white.
The Toronto native launched the Summer of Riesling program in 2008 out of a deep-seated passion for the grape and with an aim to get people drinking, talking about and reconsidering Riesling. “Riesling encapsulates everything that I define a great wine by: delicacy, balance, complexity, longevity, terroir and yumminess,” says Grieco. Last year, sponsored by the International Riesling Foundation, Summer of Riesling went from a project among Grieco’s enclave of restaurants, to 222 establishments around the U.S. This year, the goal is to sign up 500 U.S. restaurants and 100 retail stores, as well as get a foothold in the Canadian market by enlisting several restaurants around Toronto. Restaurateurs who partake in the program needn’t only serve Riesling, though. Grieco simply asks they serve at least three Rieslings by the glass.
The goal is to continually spread awareness, and with Toronto situated only an hour and a half away from one of the world’s greatest Riesling-growing regions — Niagara — the hope is that Summer of Riesling will get people talking and garner even greater international interest than it’s already accrued.
Australia and New Zealand adopted the Summer of Riesling movement last year, inspired and supported by Grieco. Last year also saw the initiation of 31 Days of German Riesling — a program Grieco and his partners teamed up with Wines of Germany to develop and promote.
Participants are asked to serve at least two German Rieslings during the month, so for those restaurateurs signed on for Summer of Riesling, two of the three Rieslings must be German.
Grieco’s philosophy is: If you drink Riesling you will become a better person. With 94 days of summer, there’s plenty of time to at least try. KELLY SCHWEITZER
Richie Roberts loves Riesling. As winemaker at Fielding Estate Winery, it’s his favourite grape variety to work with and drink.
“It’s very versatile,” says the Beamsville based vintner, explaining that the grape is adaptable to a wide range of styles — everything from bone dry to sweet and sticky. “I especially love Riesling from here because you can keep that acidity in it… And using that acidity you can create very balanced wines. Very fresh wines.”
Riesling also offers versatility because of the different flavours derived from grapes grown at different sites, he added.
“It’s not a grape variety that requires a lot of manipulation in the cellar. It’s very pure,” says Roberts.
And the grape is well suited to growing in Niagara, flourishing in the region’s climate and mineral rich soils.
It consistently ripens, he says. “Every year in Niagara seems to be a great year for Riesling.” KELLY SCHWEITZER