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Riesling, France

Riesling is a white grape that is famous for its intense aromatics and crisp acidity. Riesling was the most planted white grape in Australia until the early 1990s when Chardonnay took over. Riesling flourishes in the Clare Valley, particularly Watervale, around the Polish Hill River, and in the cooler Eden Valley. Riesling is also being grown with increasing popularity in the Western Australia regions Albany, Frankland River and Porongorup. Australian Rieslings are noted for their citrus/lime fruit flavours in their youth and a smooth balance of freshness, lanolin and acid as they age. Australian botrytized Rieslings have immense levels of flavour concentration with beautiful acid and structure.

Riesling was first planted in New Zealand in the 1970s and has flourished in the relatively cool climates of the Marlborough, Central Otago area and for late harvests in the Nelson region.

Alsace is famous for producing outstanding Riesling from dry austere to Vendages Tardives and Sélection de Grains Nobles. They tend to be fuller, more savoury and viscous wines than those of other countries.

In Germany, Riesling constitutes around 20% of total plantings. The best examples are planted on south-facing slate-rich slopes. Germany produces many different styles from dry perfumed wines with racy, mineral acidity to exotically lush flavours of their great late harvest wines.
Wine is being produced throughout France and has been done for over 2,500 years with certain Châteaux dating their history back to Roman times, around 6th Century BC. Ranking second in the world in per-capita consumption and first in total production quantity. More-so than the overall quantity of wine is the quantity of truly great wines coming out of France makes the nation the envy of wine-making nations worldwide.

Two concepts pivotal to the higher end French wines, in particular, are the idea of 'terroir' and the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system. Terroir refers to the way the geography, geology and climate find their way into the glass, telling a story of the origin of the wine. The AOC was set up in 1935 and has the primary goal of protecting the authenticity of the wines and the livelihoods of the producers. Appellation rules strictly define which varieties of grapes and winemaking practices are approved for classification in each of France's several hundred geographically defined appellations, which can cover entire regions, individual villages or in some cases, like in Burgundy even specific vineyards.

Classic wine regions in France include Champagne (home of Champagne), Burgundy (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot), Alsace (Aromatic varietals), Loire Valley (Chenin Blanc, Crémant) and the Rhône Valley (Syrah, Grenache Mourvedre)

The Bordeaux classification of 1855 is still in use, as is the Sauternes and Barsac Classification of the same year. Wines from certain regions can be bought En Primeur, which is when the wine is sold prior to it being bottled.
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