Happy birthday, Riesling!
Did you know? 13 March is the birthday of Germany’s most celebrated grape. Wines of Germany started to celebrate it only last year – but it does not mean that the variety is only one year old, of course. In fact Germany’s star grape is at least 585 year old, since the birthday refers to the date of the first written evidence of the variety: an invoice dated 13 March, 1435, found in a cellar log located in Rüsselsheim, just east of Rheingau region. “It makes sense that Riesling was first documented here, as the Rheingau region has long been tied to the Riesling grape. The area has been an important hub for Riesling quality and innovation, from the planting of 38,000 Riesling vines at Schloss Johannisberg in 1719 and 1720 to the founding of Hochschule Geisenheim University in 1872. The discovery of late-harvest, or spätlese, botrytis-affected Riesling grapes is often credited to the Rheingau as well“ as Forbes.com wrote last year, when Riesling Day was introduced.
Great Hungarian Rieslings
If you see the word “Rizling” in Hungary, it does not necessarily mean Riesling, since our most planted white grape has a similar name, ‘Olaszrizling’. Provenly there is no genetic relation between the two grapes, so it is rather confusing, but this is how it is. Nevertheless, Riesling (or Rajnai Rizling / Rhine Riesling) as it is called in Hungary) plays an important role in our country with 1283 hectares (the most hectares in the world after Germany, Alsace, Australia, Austria, the USA and Moldova). Therefore we have some beautiful Rieslings that we can recommend to celebrate 13 March, the birthday of Riesling!
Heumann Rajnai Rizling, Villány (Siklós), 2017
Erhard Heumann believes that Siklós has a potential for Riesling. “Siklós towards the west has a slightly cooler climate but what in my opinion is the most important fact is that the thinner layer of loess on the lime stone rock, compared to Villány. That gives our wines (whites plus reds) a great minerality and a slightly higher acidity. Different terroir!” Muscatel and a little bit of peaches in the nose. Gorgeous grapefruit and lemon taste on the palate. Quite long.
Sabar Leszner Rajnai Rizling, Badacsony, 2018
Badacsony wine region is ideal for Riesling with its volcanic soil and a moderate climate tempered by Lake Balaton. Sabar Wine House is a small (7 hectares) winery from a small hill (217 m) with great wines, and this is a good example of their dedicated work. Leszner vineyard is on Szent György mountain, a neighbouring mountain of the “headquarter” Sabar Hill. “Complex Mediterranean citrus aromas on the nose: grapefruit, orange, lime together with a hint of peach and herbs. Very nice acid structure with some grams of residual sugar. Nice balance, long finish, great potential.”
Lajver Szekszárdi Rajnai Rizling, Szekszárd, 2017
This wine won a gold medal at Szekszárd Regional Wine Contest last year, plus it was selected The Best White Wine of Szekszárd. The bunches were selected by hand, placed in a stainless steel container where fermentation took place in a reductive space. It was matured for 4 months in oak barrels. “When tasted its liveliness is preserved through valuable acids. However, it is the marks of maturity that are emphasized: we open the bottle when it is ripe for consumption. It is not a heavy wine, but one to be sipped slowly, a thought-provoking wine that deserves devoting time to its discovery.”