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The ageing of Riesling


That GS area of Australia is a sort of forgotten area, yet has some important estates, only two have passed my way and only one when in Australia, that was Tingle-Wood, and the Frankland Estate, but with Australia you never know who still exists or who has taken over or merged with who, you always seem to be one step behind the latest sale or merger.


I agree - it’s tough to keep up.

Howard Park is another one to look out for. The Society usually offer their entry level “Madfish” wine, though the estate branded wine is worth the extra few pounds. Great Western usually have it.

By the way, here’s some light reading for the riesling obsessives amongst us -

Sarah Ahmed on the Melbourne “Riesling Riot”


Read the link tastings, grapefruit crops up far to often, if anything like that McGuigan, they are SBs NZ style and not Riesling.


Mmm. That may just be Sarah Ahmed’s impressionist shorthand. None of the ones I’ve mentioned are remotely SB-like at any rate. I wouldn’t buy one of those either.


This was one of the fabulous wines we drank at the BYOB last night! It was smashing! :heart_eyes: A 2005 vintage, courtesy of @woodap. It was utterly lively and fresh, and could age for many more years, I’m sure!


Contours, like Peter Lehmann Wigan is always released with at least 5 years on the clock. Hopefully you tasted a bit of my sweat in the 05 :sweat_smile:


And blood, and tears… :wink:
It’s a lovely thought, actually… !


With due respect depending on what the wine is, '76 is starting to push it for anything below auslese and even then all my '76s went awhile back, it was a vintage for botrytised wines, but anything else was from my experience not so good.


the '76 is Schloss Schonnorn Hochheimer Kirchenstuck Auslese

they will be going soon…


Just a short addition to Riesling that ages, one also has to take in the effect of warmer areas and riper fruit, this traditionally meant that wines from the Pfalz and Rheinhessen matured quicker than those from the Mosel.
In fact my initiation cases from the '71 vintage were 80% from those areas, and they certainly were not for thirty years plus.
It also has to be a consideration, that the Mosel has had a lot of better vintages, hotter, in recent years and this has coincided with its rise to prominence over the Rhinelands that fell out of favour after the Liebefraumilch era. That of course is now being rectified, so we have a wonderful choice of all the Riesling areas in Germany, plus the Rhinelands offer a lot more than Riesling as can be seen with the way Spatburgunder is being improved all the time and a lot of other varieties not really grown in the Mosel.
And to James the Schloss Schonborn Auslese , not sure which one, was in that '71 parcel I had, it was a very popular estate in those days.


Riesling seems to be the ultimate wine geek’s grape. However, to play devil’s advocate, I have the following issues with it, which together mean I don’t buy it much these days.

  1. Traditional German style (i.e. not trocken) is not liked by anyone I know. People these days expect their wine to be dry. End of story. I can admire these wines, but no one I know (and yes, I admit it, often myself too) wants to actually drink them. Which does, of course, make it easy to age them :grinning:

  2. Oz Riesling tends to have a strong lime flavour. I love the flavour of lime, but maybe not in wine. I fijnd this flavour boring, and the wines rather austere in youth. Again, makes them easy to age, but I’m yet to be convinced I like them then either, especially if…

  3. They often taste of kerosene as they get old. Beyond its novelty value, why would anyone want a wine to taste like that?!

  4. In Alsace at least, they are usually the most expensive wines. They can of course be great, but equally often disappoint. The various Pinots, to my mind, often offer better value.

Having said all that, I’m always on the lookout for Riesling from Austria, or the Alto Adige :grinning:


Some interesting points there, @suiko!

The only thing I would say is that although I certainly smelt kerosene/petrol in some Rieslings (both German and Aussies) I can’t ever remember actually tasting it. I know that smell and taste are in some way interchangeable, nevertheless, the kerosene on the nose doesn’t seem (to me, at least) to transfer to the palate.


Great thread!
I have myself bought some Riesling to lay down (birth year of the little one) - clos windsbuhl & Rangen de Thann clos st urbain, from Zind Humbrecht (Alsace). Less risky and expensive than great chardonnays from burgundy.

I have stuck to dry ones (I am not a fan of off-dry rieslings), first bottle to be tested in 5 years time!


I suppose you have to know what you like, and if this taste is not to your liking then so be it. We all have our own likes and dislikes.

The Alsace problem is one that goes beyond the riesling grape I think, though. It’s hard to know what sort of a wine is in the bottle for various reasons, and sweetness is one of them. And some growers have a habit of producing a different sort of wine from vintage to vintage.

But I recognise @suiko’s points, even if my navigation around them is different to his. And to be fair, the demi-sec sort of category is more difficult to plan for than strictly dry or sweet.


I would also challenge the assertion that

I think - certainly in case of red wine - people profess to want or prefer dry wines, but many actually veer towards those reds where the RS is high, perhaps unaware that this is the case - as RS levels are rarely openly advertised on the label.

My other observation (anecdotal, for sure) is that on many tastings I’ve attended it is very often the sweet wines that win the vote. Again, might be a complete coincidence, then again - sweetness is something we perhaps unconsciously enjoy very much, if not wanting to quite admit to it when it comes to wines.

That’s just my personal take, of course.


The switch to dry white wines is one of fashion as with so much in wine, Sauternes have the same image problem with the general public, but all that can change, for as before Liebfraumilch killed of sales of German wines the sweet ones were in great demand and if you go back to before WW 11 those same top German sweet wines fetched more than the Lafites of this world and were highly prized.
The kerosene item keeps coming up yet I who have probably but not exclusively drunk as many as most at all levels have rarely come across it, the point on kerosene I made in the piece at the start.
Alsace Riesling can be very good and is preferred by many, purely a matter of taste, but not mine so much.
Pinots ! the best Pinot Gris is as expensive as Riesling apart from a few prized plots in the Alsace and the Pinot Blancs are mainly a cheap white wine, and Pinot Noir again with some exceptions still has a long way to go.
Austria, similar, or at least the ones I have had tend be more fruity but less alcoholic than the Alsace ones, and are certainly fuller than anything from the Mosel but not necessarily the Rhinelands, just a different style from a warmer climate, and Alto Adige, very few produced and generally, I say generally not worth the effort.
Australian Riesling has already been taken care of above, the good ones are very good, mine and others reticence over others has again been explained.

But watch out for other areas, the USA and Canada are making some very good Rieslings now especially the Icewines from the more northern states and Chile which has been planting at altitude more Riesling will be one to watch in the future, NZ should be able to make great Riesling , maybe I have been unlucky, nothing has stirred me from there yet, but the fact these other countries are planting and producing Riesling has to mean there is an increasing demand.


Well, @cerberus, you must take responsibility for me opening a slightly past-it riesling last night, which I finished up enjoying more than I expected! So as not to mix up thread subjects, here’s a link to my note -
1975 Schloss Eltz Eltviller Spaetlese

Which rather prompts the question “how old is too old?”

That one would have been better some years ago without any doubt, but the matter of personal taste can never be ignored. It’s unlikely there was much botrytised material in this wine, which rather confirms your observation on 1976s below the auslese level.

But there is no question of this wine suffering the most usual of the woes of old age (oxidation). It really rather depends on how much you like those broader, more “golden” sort of tones that come at the expense of focus, which is when all said and done usually one of the attractions of the riesling grape.

The other thing is sweetness, and this applies to all wines. Perceived sweetness gradually ebbs away with age, and at this sort of age can be quite noticeably diminished.

I’m trying to remember the last 1975’s I had. I think it was about 3 years ago, when I took a couple of Beerenauslesen (in halves) for a dinner. One tasted right on top of its game, the other (from another grower) was definitely on the downslope. So winemaking needs to be factored in as well.

One final point - there was a touch of Jet A-1 on the nose (kerosene), but also a tiny hint of naphthalene. I’ve never come across that one before, and it departed almost immediately. But that’s a first for me.


Interesting how so many of the earlier Rieslings spoken about and shown from that era are from the Rhinelands and not the Mosel, many of these old estates, not sure if yours is still in production or the estate has been sold off, many of the big old ones have been.
I looked on cellartracker and there is nothing past 2003.
Also you appear to have got lucky as there great reviews for that bottle, just shows you can never tell, yet reviews for some of the Ausleses, from the same winery tell the story of past it.


I envy you that one.


I have tried this whole range and more than once, I just can’t seem to get on with them . Maybe I am looking for more in the wines than they provide . Howard park are imho a lot more structured .


Well this is even older than I am :joy:, but the colour on that glass is beautiful! You’re extremely lucky to be able to enjoy the complexity a wine such as this has to offer !