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Riesling - St Laurent

Riesling - St Laurent

Many would say Riesling is the best wine grape in the world. It is certainly one of the Great Whites.

German Riesling (Mosel)

The Mosel is Riesling country at its best, exquisite wines that are full of fruit.

Vineyards cling to the banks of the river. The steepest valley slopes make the best wine, and mankind has found the best spots over the centuries. The region has many unique sites and styles. In general, however, the wines are characterised by a minerality and citrus acidity derived from the slate soils. The fruitiness is more exotic and, with age, come the mineral notes often tagged as "petrol" (to me, it always smells more like beeswax).

Our reference for the Mosel is Patrick Philipps in Graach. Taste his Auslese and know this is what Riesling should be. In Erden we have found perfectionist mineralist Schmitges. Both Philipps and Schmitges make a full range of fabulous wines but, as a rule of thumb, one has a perfectly balanced edge on the sweet wines and the other's perfectionism shines in the dry wines. Further upriver the Kollmann-Becker family offers a great introduction to German wines.

Austrian Riesling

Riesling is fussy about where it is planted but it thrives on many outstanding sites in Austria. Fine Rieslings are typically dry and substantial, yet have a raciness and delicacy that is second to none. The minerality in these wines is also very distinctive. A peachier, floral side of Riesling often comes out.

We have many fine Rieslings from Austria. Wachau's Leo Alzinger is legendary world wide. The Waldschütz Rieslings are possibly the best wine for your money in our entire catalogue. Diem's Rosenhügel is a masterpiece of subtlety. Arndorfer gives it a touch of oak. Buchegger makes warm filling Rieslings - and there are a few more to explore.

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Riesling wines can be highly aromatic with apple, peach and pear at the forefront, mixed with delicate floral undertones and often honey and spice on the nose. On the palate, Rieslings echo the apple, pear and peach along with citrus and tropical nuances. Rieslings tend to pick up a noticeable "minerality" from their native soils.

Riesling, through DNA data, appears to be a cross between Gouais Blanc and an unknown relative of Savagnin. Riesling seems to have originated on the north bank of the Rhine in Germany where we find its first mention in a document dated 1435.

Up to the early 20th century Riesling and Sylvaner were often confused with each other. If you buy an ancient bottle you can't be sure which it might be. After the 60s, you're OK.

With its somewhat low yield, the variety is considered difficult in the vineyard and was not always appreciated. It needs good sites with deep soils. It is sensitive during the flowering period and sensitive to late frost. It brings inconsistent yields.

Like many other grape varieties, the facts behind its origins are not easily confirmed. One theory suggests that cuttings were offered by a grape collector called Saint-Laurent du Var while another that it comes from Alsace, where it was known as Schwarzer. Although it shares its name with a number of French villages, there is nothing to suggest that they had anything to do with the naming of this grape. Most likely is the idea mentioned above that it was named after the patron saint of chefs, whose patronal festival coincides with the traditional day on which the berries change colour. It is one of the first grapes planted at the monastery of Klosterneuburg in their experimental vineyard in 1863.

If you are a fan of Zweigelt, remember that in 1922 Fritz Zweigelt combined the Sankt Laurent grape with Blaüfrankisch to create Zweigelt. It is a very good parent indeed.

It is not however closely related to Pinot. Sankt Laurent is not the same as Pinot Saint-Laurent. Although Sankt Laurent is not Pinot Noir, any more than Carménère is Merlot, there are some similarities to be found. If you like a meatier, gamier Pinot Noir, try this – you will not be disappointed!

ophisticated wine with a lingering finish that continues to delight for ages. It pairs well with most food, especially meats and as many commentators advise, those foods which you shouldn’t really eat like barbeques, cheese and anything fatty.

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