The Dry Side of Riesling

In my previous post I wrote about sweet Riesling.  Today I’m here to discuss Dry Riesling.  While Riesling is now being produced in many regions around the world, I’d say the two more prominent regions for making dry Riesling are the Alsace region of France and the Alto-Adige(ah-dee-zhay) region of Italy.  Over the past few years however, Germany has been changing their tune and many producers now making very high quality dry Riesling.

Dry German Riesling

Many German producers became unhappy with the classification system in place and certain producers joined together to create their own system known as the VDP.  VDP wines with the exception from the region of Mosel are ALL DRY Riesling, well just all dry wines in general.

This is just a general overview of VDP wine and goes deeper than I’m writing about, but I just wanted to give you a basic understanding.

The way to identify VDP wines would have “Qualitatswein Trocken” listed on the label.  So if you want dry Riesling from Germany, look for that designation printed on German wine labels.  There are levels to it as well that you can also find on the labels:

  • Grosse Lagen
  • Erste Lagen
  • Ortswein
  • Gutzwein

In my opinion, dry Rieslings are one of the best white food pairing wines around.  They’re versatile, medium bodied, complex flavors and wonderful acidity to work with many hard-to-pair foods.  Taking from the chart I showed you in my previous post, the VDP adheres to it for two levels:  Kabinett and Spatlese.

VDP only allow these specific ripeness levels to be used for making Riesling.  However, these wines can only be made into dry wine.   The region of Mosel is the only exception.  In Mosel they can produce VDP wines that may be off-dry.

Italian Riesling and French Riesling

The other regions to buy dry Riesling from would be Riesling from Alsace(France) and Riesling from Alto-Adige(Italy).  Oddly enough, these two regions have heavy Germanic influence.  Alsace is next Germany and is connected by the Alps, and Alto-Adige is connected to the Austrian part of Alps.  These two regions grow many of the same grapes as Germany, but they aren’t as heavy into the sweet styles.

Riesling and Gewurztraminer which are generally at least somewhat sweet in German are always made dry in Alsace or Alto-Adige unless specifically made into a dessert wine, but still, they’re rarely off-dry or medium.

These two regions are quite fascinating.  Both have heavy German influence in their local culture.  The food is very much Germanic and even the languages spoken are German.  Alto-Adige speaks both Italian and German, and Alsace speaks both French and German.  You’ll see signs with all languages represented.

Dry Riesling Producers

Germany:  Baron Knyphausen Marcobrunn, Kunstler, Johannes Eser Rudesheim Berg Rottland

France:  Pierre Sparr, Trimbach

Italy:  Campaner, Abbazia Di Novacella, Alois Lageder

One comment

  • Great post once again!
    Abbazia di Novacella’s Riesling Praepositus is really great. Another very good producer, in my view, is Elena Walch.
    Take care!

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