Riesling fights back

Riesling lovers are revolting. A worldwide movement called “Summer of Riesling” is hoping to switch drinkers from Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc to a grape variety that they believe is far more worthy of our attention.

As a card-carrying member of the Riesling Lover’s Club I am happy to support the movement. In recent years I’ve extolled the virtues of the variety at Riesling celebrations in Waipara, Melbourne and Seattle. It was a joy to rave about Riesling to audiences that worship this delicious wine. I sensed how the late Steve Jobs must have felt when addressing a crowd clutching Apple Macs and iPads.

My wife, Marion, remains unmoved by all the hysteria. She doesn’t like Riesling. Her two main objections are that Riesling is often sweet and high in acidity but, as I’ve tried to explain to her on many occasions, it ain’t necessarily so.

Riesling loathers outnumber Riesling lovers. I have talked to many, most of who share Marion’s discomfort about sweetness and acidity. My contribution to the “bring back Riesling” cause is to offer two wines that might encourage Riesling loathers to think again.

After tasting nearly 100 New Zealand Rieslings I selected two dry wines with restrained acidity. I then hot-smoked a piece of salmon and garnished the still warm fish with a squeeze of lemon before inviting Marion to taste both wines with food.

Her eyebrows raised in unexpected appreciation as she commented, “I like both wines very much … but I still prefer Chardonnay”.

Villa Maria Reserve Dry Riesling, Marlborough 2010 – $26.99

Concentrated Riesling in a truly dry style and yet the fruity acidity is cleverly balanced by a touch of sweetness that doesn’t compromise the wine’s dryness but does achieve a pleasing tension in the wine. Citrus/lime, mineral and mandarin zest are the dominant flavours. A very serious Riesling, this is solid gold medal wine at a relatively inexpensive price. – view on bobcampbell.nz

Amisfield Dry Riesling, Central Otago 2010 – $30

Dry, but not searingly dry, Riesling with appealing mineral, lime, floral/rose petal and delicately succulent tree fruit flavours. A backbone of fruity acidity builds a little tension in the wine. Attractive yet subtle wine that doesn’t force its attention on you. A wonderful accompaniment to raw oysters or Ceviche. – view on bobcampbell.nz

First published in KiaOra Magazine – Apr 2012.

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