MY BARGAIN wine discovery of the year so far is a wine from
Alsace: a Riesling Rebgarten 2009, from the Pfaffenheim
Co-operative. It is comparatively rare for a wine from Alsace to be
sold with a vineyard name, unless it has the superior rating of a
I showed this at a tasting for wine-trade students, and they all
gave it a minimum retail price of £15. This is scarcely surprising,
as 2009 is an outstanding vintage in Alsace. Perhaps I should warn
you that this wine has the rather different smell and taste that is
peculiar to many older Rieslings - that of mineral oil.
Notwithstanding this, it is a wine that I, and the others, really
enjoyed. The price? Just £6.99, at Lidl.
Those with a wine-drinking history of a certain length will
remember when the British white-wine market was dominated by
so-called Rieslings from Eastern Europe. In fact, these were not
true Rieslings at all. The true Riesling is one of the great
grape-varieties in the wine world, capable of producing not only
outstanding dry wines, but also some of the finest sweet ones. It
shows at its best in Alsace and Germany, but also in some of the
cooler wine regions in Australia.
In Alsace, its pinnacle is widely considered to be from the
small vineyard of Clos Sainte Hune, which belongs to the Trimbach
family. Their other outstanding Riesling is their Cuvée Frédéric
Emile. If you want to start at the top, Waitrose has the 2006
vintage for £33.99. A humbler representative, the Riesling
Kaefferkopf 2012 Henri Erhart, is at Tanners, at £11.70. This has
the classic minerality, as well as a crisp citric acidity.
From Germany, there is nothing I enjoy more than a chilled
Mosel. Low in alcohol, often no more than eight degrees, and with a
touch of sweetness, they are wines for social drinking. Such a wine
is the Grey Slate Dr. L Private Reserve 2013 (Waitrose, £9.99) with
complex flavours of apple and nectarines. If you prefer something
sweeter, try the Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2011, Heribert
Kerpen, a Dolly Parton wine with opulent rich fruit and no more
than 7.5 degrees (Tanners, £16.90).
In other parts of Germany, the sweeter styles of Riesling have
largely been abandoned in favour of dry wines with a distinctly
higher degree of alcohol, such as Kendermann's Special Edition
Riesling 2013, from the Pfalz region (12 degrees, Waitrose
In Australia, the best Rieslings come from the Clare and Eden
Valleys in south Australia, although wines from the south-west
corner of western Australia and Tasmania are beginning to create a
From the Clare Valley, I would suggest Jim Barry's The Lodge
Hill 2013 (Majestic and Co-op, around £14); from the Eden Valley,
Pewsey Vale The Contours Museum Reserve 2009 (Oddbins £16.99); and,
from Tasmania, the Tamar Ridge Kayena Vineyard 2010 (Wine in
Cornwall and Bowland Forest Vintners, £16.50). The Riesling
revolution is well under way.