7 Great Riesling Wines To Try Now
The best Rieslings are bone-dry, insanely aromatic, thirst-quenching wines that make your mouth water.
Riesling is divisive. One camp of winos considers the quintessential German wine cloying and sugary-sweet with no benefits aside from a budding headache. On the flipside, Riesling is the darling of wine nerds, wooing sommeliers with the grape’s lush versatility. Yes, there’s a sugary bottle or two out there. But the best iterations of Riesling are bone-dry, insanely aromatic and zippy in acid; crisp, energetic, thirst-quenching wines that make your mouth water. (Plus, Riesling is one of the few white wines that age well, thanks in part to the high levels of acidity. Give it 50, 100 years and most Rieslings will only improve.)
And don’t confine Riesling to the Germanic crus: Austria and Alsace offer prestigious bottlings, as do young guns in Australia, California, and New York. Here are our favorite Rieslings right now:
Think you know Riesling? Well Koerner’s option defies conventions, offering lush aromas, texture, and a hint of spice. It’s one of a range of bottles produced by brothers Damon and Juno Koerner, heirs to a family of grape growers who now make wine from their family’s vineyards rather than sell the grapes off.
If most Rieslings smell of petrol to you, this one is fresh; with bright citrus, bright herbs, and peach, all balanced out by a sharp acidity and lemony bitterness. It spends overnight on the skins and 8 months aging on the lees, giving a plush texture. $30.
Clemens Busch Riesling Trocken
Though Clemens is the seventh generation of his family to be named Clemens (he’s chosen other names for his children), he doesn’t do things quite like his predecessors. He converted the family vineyards over to organic farming in the 80s, and now his Rieslings are incredibly raw reflections of the Mosel.
He’s a firm believer in keeping the roots of riesling alive — to this day, he still bottles and labels his wines with their prehistoric names. (Take note at the foil on the top of the bottle – it will hint to the color of the slate the grapes are grown on.)
Many budget Rieslings are lovely, but lack depth and substance. This is certainly not one — expect intense stone fruit, lemon rind and wet slate. Nerdy, yet elegant and approachable (read: well-priced!). $28
AA Durmann Riesling Sur Gres
Heading south into Alsace, winemakers in the town of Andlau have been growing riesling for a literal millennium. While serious rieslings are aplenty, the Durmann family’s option is fun, fresh, and non-committal. It’s lean and refreshing, grassy and bright — a little chalky and shimmering with acidity (pst: that means it goes with any food you could imagine). Try this bottle, then dig into the Durmann’s grand cru Rieslings that show off the micro-terrains of Andlau. $30
Stirm Kick-On Riesling
The sunny California coast isn’t the first location you’d place a cold weather grape, but surfer-boy Ryan Stirm certainly does riesling justice. In Kick-On vineyards— 16km east of the ocean — Riesling grapes see cool, salty ocean breezes, resulting in a super dry, zippy, intensely mineral wine. His rieslings are pristine, bone-dry and brilliant — textured and a little herbaceous. $26
Ginglinger Riesling Reserve
Here’s where things get a bit weird. The inimitable Jean Ginglinger makes incredible rieslings that are a little wilder than most you’ll see — intensely mineral, slightly oxidized, tart, and salty. If you’re looking to get a little crazier, Ginglinger also makes skin-contact wines that are a little more peculiar and wild. $22
Low-intervention winemaker Mac Forbes makes a strong case for Australian (no, not Austrian) Riesling. It’s balanced, textured and bright — think spring-in-a-glass. With brightness and substance, it’s a pure, expressive representative of the future of Australian winemaking. $30
Okay, back to California. Do away with notions of oaky chard and other west-coast stereotypes: Tatomer’s Riesling is fresh and focused. (Graham Tatomer trained under the folks at Riesling gods Knoll so expect a certain finesse to his bottles.) Made in the Santa Lucia highlands, it channels that coastal energy into a complex, energetic, mouth-watering Riesling. $25