Raise a glass to German Riesling

Last Wednesday the UK’s first ever Riesling Summit took place in London to celebrate a truly fabulous white grape variety.

Given the recent emphasis on lower-alcohol wines in the media, it seemed fitting to begin the day with a debate looking at Germany’s place in the lower-alcohol category. A live panel made up of Gerd Stepp (Winemaker and Industry Consultant), Helena Conibear (Director of Alcohol in Moderation), Maria Troein (Wine Intelligence), and Nicky Forrest (Managing Director of Wines of Germany UK) discussed the opportunities available for German Riesling given its capacity to produce fine naturally lower-alcohol wines (as opposed to those that have had their alcohol levels technically reduced). While it evoked some particularly strong opinions, it firmed up my view that a greater emphasis needs to be placed on German Riesling given its ability to produce such versatile white wines.

Following the debate, attendees had the chance to taste some fantastic Rieslings from Generation Riesling producers – a group made up of over 300 young German winemakers – with Jan Klein (Staffelter Hof) and Eva Fricke on hand to answer questions and talk through their wine ranges (Eva’s Lorchhäuser Seligmacher Riesling 2011 and Jan’s Kröv Letterlay Kabinett feinherb 2011 were two of my favourites from the day). On top of that was a selection of over 40 top Rieslings from Germany and around the world – Chile, Alsace, New Zealand, Washington, and Australia – to taste in the International Riesling Review.

Throughout the afternoon, various masterclasses took place with the incredibly passionate Ernie Loosen of Dr. Loosen discussing German wine and terroir, sommelier Robert Giorgione looking at German Riesling’s potential in the on-trade (bars and restaurants), and David Motion, owner of The Winery focussing on what independent merchants can do to make German Riesling stand out to UK wine drinkers.

David began with his saying, ‘dry German Riesling is the best dry white wine in the world’ and went on to show some delightful wines that are available in his shop in Maida Vale – such as the fragrant apple pie-flavoured Rauenthaler Baiken Riesling Kabinett trocken 2011 from the Rheingau – all of which have a fascinating story behind them (such as the crazy Becker brother and sister behind the wonderfully aged Wallufer Walkenberg Riesling Spätlese trocken 1992).

Being relatively new to the wine trade, the Riesling Summit was a great opportunity for me to see German Riesling in all its glory and I cannot wait for the 31 Days of German Riesling to begin tomorrow!

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