Riesling is easily Germany’s most important grape and possibly the world’s finest white thanks to its ability to develop in bottle for decades as well as showcase the unique characteristics of a region without losing its own distinct personality, regardless of alcohol strength or residual sugar.
Riesling is made at all levels of sweetness and in a wide range of styles from bone-dry dinner wine, such as that from France’s famous Alsace region, to ultra-sweet dessert wine, such as Germany’s Eiswein, and botrytized Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. Part of what allows Riesling to be so versatile is its naturally high levels of tartaric acid-which counterbalances its sweetness-and its seductive, almost intoxicating perfume-like aromatics.
These characteristics often make Riesling the perfect companion for spicy foods such as Indian and Thai cuisine, especially when it’s sweet, but also for salty meats and pungent blue-marbled cheeses. Our 2009 Riesling has a residual sugar content of 2.3 percent making it just slightly sweet or “off-dry” in fancy wine lingo.
It pairs fabulously with fatty poultry such as goose or duck. I had it the other day at Pierre Lafond’s Montecito Wine Bistro along with award-winning Chef Nathan Heil’s Grilled Duck Breast and Confit Duck Leg which came with walnut sauce, yam purée, and Savoy cabbage, roasted mushrooms and caramelized pearl onions. The two were a match made in heaven.
For a glance at Heil’s inspired menu and a peek inside the Wine Bistro.
Carlos Mascherin, Santa Barbara Winery