Varietal 4: Riesling | Part D: Comparing Riesling

U.S. Riesling from Oregon, Washington and New York states, with their northern latitude, are some of the best examples of cool climate Rieslings.  With warm days and cool nights (diurnal shifts) and vineyards protected from heavy rains and storms by mountain ranges, grapes ripen slowly and keep their bright acidity and ripe citrus fruit forward flavors.  Most will have faint petrol notes and can age quite well due to the high acidity levels.  Refreshing, crisp, dry and ready to drink defines most U.S. Riesling.  Some sweeter Rieslings are still produced, especially in more moderate climates or when grapes remain on the vine into winter.  Grapes left to freeze during winter allows winemakers to create a uniquely concentrated and sweet variation called ice wine. 

Germany is typically considered the homeland of Riesling, but it is the Alsatian (from Alsace, France) region that steals the heart of wine lovers for the amazing and diverse wines it produces year in and year out.  Being more moderate in climate than Germany due to falling within the rain shadow of the Vosges mountains, Rieslings from Alsace lean toward riper stone fruits, heavier feeling in the mouth resulting from higher alcohol and deeper aromatic notes.  Maintaining high acidity, these wines remain highly balanced and can age for decades. 

VIDEO:  (Note:  our CEO Kristi attests to Alsatian Riesling holding its own in the cellar having the privilege of tasting 1969 and 1987 vintages thanks to the cellars at the castle of the Confrerie St. Etienne recently!)

Top Growing Regions:

U.S. Riesling Regions:

  • California – Monterey, cooler vineyards across the state
  • Washington State

Global Riesling Regions:

  • Germany
  • France – Alsace
  • Australia