In a world where desert island wines were being chosen, Riesling would win the white stakes, hands down. Need proof? Look no further than the simple aphorism of humble Helmut Dönnhoff, “riesling has two talents. For sweet and dry wines.”
And across centuries, the wines of this noble grape are unmatched, for quality. Age it, drink it young, crop it high or crop it low. Give it old oak, keep it fragrant and electrically charged in stainless steel.
Whether on steep inclines down by the riverside, or gentle rolling hinterland. From ancient technicolour slate, airy volcanic debris, chiselled granite or limestone. In the right hands, this grape harnesses all the energy and potential of its landscape.
In Australia, its spiritual home is among the valleys Clare and Eden. But that’s just the beginning. Visit Great Western, Henty, Strathbogie, Frankland River and the Canberra District to knock your socks off. Yes, and the precocious southern island territory also does very well (along with chardonnay, pinot, sparkling and Modern Art).
NZ is exceptional in Nelson, Marlborough, and Canterbury. Crossing continents, in Austria, lion-hearted producers stake vines on harsh rock terraces carved by the Blue Danube. Wachau carries intensity and weight, with Kamptal and Krems issuing wines of steelier lineage.
But Germany is where we have both tension and possibility. Rheingau's aristocratic estates are finally of age in the modern landscape, and the Mosel, Nahe, Rheinhessen and Pfalz are the other lock ins on The German Hitparade.
If you should tire of Germany, head south of the border to Alsace. Whilst this place seems alien to the rest of France, its mélange of soils, culture and cooking make it the epicentre that best shows the greatness of this grape.