Riesling review 2019
Wine review of 4 old world Rieslings from Germany, Austria and France. These white wines were purchased from Lidl, Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose. Each wine will be blind tasted by our panel and given a winehack rating, helping you to choose the best wine.
It’s funny how many things that are essentially the same are also very different, take car shopping for example. Many people don’t realise when they are choosing between brands, they are often choosing between the same car – a VW Golf, an Audi A3 and a Skoda Octavia are all made with exactly the same chassis and running gear, yet they offer different characteristics, styles and prices. The same is true with grapes. Plant a Sauvignon Blanc in France and another in Australia and the style of wine that results will be totally different and yet you would think they would be similar. So why is this? Well, it’s primarily down to two factors, the terroir and the climate.
The word terroir is often used to describe the location of the vines in terms of soil type, geomorphology (it is a word honest) and sometimes farming methods. It is essentially used to describe the character of the wine from its natural habitat. The soil type has a huge impact on the flavours you would expect from the wine. For example, wines grown in clay are likely to be richer than those grown in sandy soil, which would typically be more aromatic.
Climate is equally important and makes a huge difference, everything from the seasons, the warmth, altitude and proximity to water can completely alter the flavour and consistency of the wine.
Riesling is one of the most affected grapes in terms of terroir and climatic variation. There are marked differences between new and old-world varieties and even within countries the flavour profiles can be completely different. So for this tasting we have narrowed our selection down to the old world and include Alsace, Austria and Germany, although there are many more possibilities out there. Rieslings had a bit of an unfortunate time in the UK market as memories of the atrocity that was Blue Nun continue to haunt. The reality is, there are some epic Rieslings now on sale in the UK and within the industry Riesling is one of the big three white wine grapes in terms of prominence, alongside Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
So, let’s see what the differences might be from this grape, that should taste the same, but likely won’t!
The blind wine tasting...
This time we only had 4 wines to get through, from Waitrose, Sainsburys, Lidl and Tesco. Given we’ve only got four to compare we’ll only be giving out a prestigious winehack gold and no silver. Only one can triumph!
Flavours we should be tasting
- Floral notes
As per the wine hack blind tasting rules all the bottles were fully covered so no one knew which they were tasting or in what order. So how did the wines compare?
Smell Starfuityness, peach melba and sherbert
Taste Off-dry, like a big slice of lemon meringue
Finish Acidity kicks in to leave a clean finish
Buy this if… you want a really pleasant Riesling which is very much ‘off-dry’ and more sweet than the others, but not overbearing with a palate cleansing finish. Would make a great aperitif.
Smell A mixture of saline, green apples and new plastic (!)
Taste Quite acidic, think grapefruit, sour cherry with a few pebbles
Finish Dense aftertaste, major mouthwater inducing
Buy this if… you want a drier Riesling with a dose more acidity. Respectable for the price and would be good to cut through a rich dish
Smell Victorian floorboards with a hint of cider vinegar
Taste A lot going on, peaches and lychees but strong all the way through and a tad bitter
Finish Shortish and mellows a bit
Buy this if… you want a more complex taste with a feeling of age. We found it richer but with a slight cider vinegar undercurrent through the palate
Smell Damp jeans in a steamy bathroom. With a hint of lemon
Taste Cooking apples and squeezed lemon zest. Seriously tart
Finish Oily but a bit too much of a lengthy acid trip
Buy this if… you want something very tart on the taste. It’s a shame the bitterness increases on the finish leaving us a bit underwhelmed. Probably better with food
With thanks to our 2 guest tasters Will and Natalia who joined the wine hack team for this installment of our winehack blind tasting