International Riesling Day is just around the corner (13th March), so we wanted to celebrate with a Riesling from the sandy soils of Wachau – Johann Donabaum, Spitzer Federspiel, Wachau, Riesling 2019. Riesling is one of the most versatile grapes growing and shows a variety of difference characteristics depending on where in the world it is being grown.
Johann cultivates 7.5 hectares of vineyard, split between Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. For him, terroir is absolutely crucial. His knowledge of his vineyards is extremely detailed and this means he is able to cultivate the vineyards with exceptional care and attention. Understanding all the nuances of the different plots means they can be given individual attention and this enables Johann to truly express the terroir of his vineyards in the resulting wines.
In a nutshell:
An enchanting wine delivering distinctive aromas of peach and apricot. Crisp, with pure varietal character echoed on the palate, this refreshing wine has an excellent structure and a lively finish. Lovely Riesling expression.
In 1961, Johann Donabaum’s parents decided to give up mixed agriculture and specialise exclusively on viticulture instead. Although it may have been perceived as a risk at the time, this turned out to be an inspired choice.
Viticulture and winemaking has been a constant throughout the majority of Johann Donabaum’s life. Growing up surrounded by family vineyards, he graduated from Krems School of Viticulture whilst still a teenager. Following his time studying, Johann completed a seven month apprenticeship with F X Pichler. This valuable experience gained him a great deal of new ideas and insight into the practices of a great wine producer, preparing him for his own successful winemaking career.
The grapes come from the Spitz vineyard in Western Wachau. The vines are grown on steep hillside terraces which make up several vineyards in the Spitzer Graben. The vines are planted with a south western orientation. Cooling breezes help to keep the climate temperate. The soils are very sandy and have high heat retention properties. The soil’s composition is the result of weathering of the local rocks and it is dominated by pegmatite and calc-silicate gneisses, which have low water retention and help to impart structure to the resulting wine.
July celebrates the 31 days of German Riesling campaign from Wines of Germany, so we ask the question, why does everybody love Riesling wine so much?
Below we explore a few reasons why it is universally popular.
Germany continues to reign supreme in the world of Riesling growing 60% of the world’s crop, however the rest of the world is quickly catching up. Australia comes in a clear second with 12%, with our own clos Clare’s Watervale Riesling 2016 (part of the Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines) standing out from the
crowd in our portfolio.
Contrary to popular belief, two thirds of German Riesling made is dry and has incredible acidity levels. Riesling also has universally low alcohol content.
Riesling grows best in rocky, steep terrain where the vines can get a great deal of sun, such as in the Rhine or Alsace.
Riesling’s roots date as far back as 1435, when a German count bought six Riesling vines – making it the first documented varietal sale.
Riesling is a brilliant test of terroir. Due to its light body and low alcohol they rarely come into contact with oak which means, when you get a good Riesling, you know the winemaker has planted them on the best soils.
Riesling can be the base for amazing dessert wines. A high level of Tartaric acid in Riesling grapes allows the wines, no matter the sweetness, to have a wonderful fresh acidity.
Riesling pairs very well with spicy foods – its low serving temperature and crisp finish makes it the perfect wine for Thai, Indian or Chinese foods. When serving Riesling with meat, choose white meats, such as chicken, turkey or seafood, such as crab or shrimp.
Riesling has a unique acidity, minerality, and fruit flavour with aromas of wet stones, smoke or even petroleum (a highly prized note in aged Riesling). The chemical compound for this petrol characteristic is ‘1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene’ – aka TDN.
Riesling grapes can be used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling makes excellent dessert wines and is typically thought of as a sweeter white wine. But that there are many “dry Rieslings” that are in fact very crisp and food-friendly, similar in body and style to a light, aromatic Sauvignon Blanc.
Riesling has some of longest life expectancies for wine due to its low pH (high acidity). The high sugar levels also increase the longevity of this wine. In Bremen, Germany – they have Riesling back to 1653!