Posts Tagged ‘Riesling’


Who is the Big Six in the wine world? Who is the Hale Berry of wine berries, the George Clooney of Grapes or the Naomi Watts of Wine?

Well in the wine drinking world, there is an A-list of grape varieties better know as The Noble Grapes.
These A-Listers are famous culturally and historically and are internationally known and grown, constantly producing quality wines year after year (that is if they are planted in the right type of soil, climate and “directed” by a capable wine maker).

Let’s look at the who’s-who of wine:

Sauvignon Blanc:
Known for its crisp, grassy, gooseberry and citrus flavours. Depending on the growing climate, Sauvigon Blanc can range from the really green, bone dry style to the vibrant tomato vine, gooseberries and green pepper style.
Some Sauvigons are blended with a small amount of Semillon to make the classic Bordeaux style whites while other Sauvignon Blancs are wood matured in French oak barrels to give a distinctive smokey character.

Some love Chardonnay, while others hate it, but no one can deny it. It is an easy growing vine that yields good quality fruit, which makes it a favourite with grape growers. It is also one of the three main varietals used in Champagne (or MCC, if you are in South Africa). It is a versatile grape and can produce a style of wine that’s fresh with lemony notes when it is unoaked or rich creamy style which can remind wine drinkers of buttered toast, almonds and honey.
Unfortunately there are other Chardonnays on the market that are so excessively wooded that the subtle fruit characters are overpowered and flavours and can be unappealing.

This varietal causes quite a bit of confusion in South Africa, because in the past wine drinkers could choose between wines labelled as Rhine Riesling, Weisser Riesling, Paarl Riesling or Cape Riesling.
Current legislation requires that the original Riesling varietal planted in South Africa can be labelled as Riesling where as the wines labelled as Cape Riesling is in fact Crouchen Blanc.
The good Rieslings that you will find can range from wines that are refreshing and racy with a steely acidity, while others can have a more lime and orange pith characters.

Cabernet Sauvignon:
Personified as a very “masculine” wine and is internationally admired. The trademarks of a good Cabernet Sauvignons are the deep dark red colour, the full-bodied character and taste of blackcurrant combined with a good tannin structure. Maturing the wine in oak barrels adds tobacco, cedar wood and chocolate characters which make the wine more complex.
Cabernet Sauvignon or predominantly Cabernet-led blends are the flagship of many wine producers.
Sadly, the poor Cab’s out there have stalky-green characteristics that are not appealing at all.

This is a super popular grape varietal with a large spectrum of wine drinkers. Described as a “feminine” wine, it is a little bit softer and rounder than Cabernet with juicier ripe berry flavours which makes it more approachable. For many wine drinkers, when faced with a choice of wine, Merlot is the go to varietal since it difficult to really get a “bad” one. Merlot also blends well with Cabernet making a good “marriage” between feminine and masculine grape types.

Pinot Noir:
Also known as the “heartbreak” grape, Pinot Noir is probably considered as the Holy Grail of wines. Notoriously temperamental, Pinot Noir can produce a wine that is ethereal, elegant and complex with layer and layer of flavours…
unfortunately Pinot Noir is like the French nouveau art film actors and hardly produces good wines outside its native Burgundy. Many new world wine growing areas tend to blunder Pinot Noir, resulting in a wine that seems disjointed with either too much fruit, hard tannins or just not enough body. Only in the cooler areas of South Africa, does Pinot Noir do well.
Pinot Noir is also one of the three grapes used in Champagne / MCC.

This is not to say that grape varietals like Chenin Blanc, Pinotage or Shiraz doesn’t make as good wine as the Noble Varietals, just that the wines listed are the internationally known.

Any excuse pulling the cork on a bottle of wine, eh?


Blog reposted from winewhiskers.co.za

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A couple of days ago I was planning to make some potstickers for dinner and needed a good wine to pair with the dish. Posting the question on Twitter, I was soon overwhelmed with recommendations of different South African Riesling producers. Riesling…. this grape varietal I have been avoiding for most of my wine drinking life. Grabbing a Hartenberg 2010 Riesling from the local Tops and was quite surprised on how good it was! More scientific research was needed!
So a couple of mates and I pooled together and sourced 6 of SA’s high rated Rieslings from Darling, Stellenbosch, Robertson and Elgin wine producers. The tasting was held at the Jenna Viva restaurant in Somerset West.

In the past, Rieslings confused me. Labels read, Cape Riesling, Weisser Riesling, Paarl Riesling or Rhine Riesling. Cape or Paarl Rieslings are in actual fact NOT Rieslings at all, but a rare French grape varietal, called Crouchen Blanc whereas the Rhine or Weisser Rieslings were the TRUE Rieslings which originated from Germany.

Today the labelling regulations have changed and true Rieslings are only labelled under the name Riesling.

Riesling is a diverse grape type and a wine maker can make dry, semi-sweet or even sparkling wines from it.

The character of Riesling includes a perfumed, floral notes with a negotiable higher acidity. It is also very terroir expressive, showing a lot of character from where the vineyard is situated. One of the most interesting notes that came up from the tasting is how well Rieslings can age. The wine’s high acidity keeps the wine fruity fresh as the secondary character comes forth.

On another note Riesling can also possess a petroleum or diesel like character. Might this in fact give the wine more character or perceived a negative quality is left to the wine drinkers own judgement.

Of the five Rieslings and one NLH Riesling that we have tasted the two highest scoring wines of the evening were the Rietvallei Rhine Riesling 2008 as the best value Riesling with the best fruit and acid balance as well as the Jordan Real McCoy 2010 as the most solid representation of South African Riesling.

The Rietvallei is available at a steal from Mooiberge Farm Stall at R35.00 a bottle and the Jordan Real McCoy at R74.00 a bottle from the farm.


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