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The ageing of Riesling


For those interested in mature, aged, Riesling, Mosel Fine Wines regularly each year give a list of estates whom have older vintages for sale, it is easy to sign up to MFW for their free newsletter and the version to request is issue 38 OCT '17, sign up and they will send the current newsletter and if you request they will send back issues immediately, as I say it is free.


I should have added, if anyone wants to purchase mature or maturing Riesling both Justerini & Brooks and Howard Ripley nearly always have some stock and Howard Ripley will often have parcels from certain wineries of older vintages ex chateau, for individual bottles at a price the Wine Barn seems to have a few, but expensive collectors items mainly.

Plus brokers often have mature Riesling, the best prices though that I have seen have been with Seckfords.


Great thread! Finally got some time to reply.

Interesting that there seems to be more of a focus on the effect of sugar content on ageing, rather than the acidity levels. I confess to very little experience of the German riesling that @cerberus loves (I’ve liked the ones I’ve tried, though), but I do drink a lot of Alsace riesling, which does vary in sweetness, as others have noted. However, there are many bone dry Alsace rieslings that age beautifully - Léon Beyer’s top cuvées spring to mind - and to my mind, it’s the balance between fruit and acidity that really gives ageing potential. Without the acidity, they turn flabby. For example, 2005 was held to be an excellent year, but our experience has been that they age much less well than the 2008s. The 2005s had bags of fruit, but the top 2008s have the balancing acidity that gives the needed structure.

Is this what makes riesling have its ageing potential? Good riesling is always high in acidity, which can make even wines with relatively high residual sugar taste much drier. Last year I was able to try some 1978 wines from Louis Sipp - riesling, pinot gris and gewurztraminer. The rieslings still tasted amazingly fresh and riesling-y, while the others lost a lot of varietal character - interesting, but for me, just not as arresting to drink. They would both have started with more sugar and less acidity. Riesling, as a grape, is blessed with both attributes.

Petrol smell and flavour is an interesting one. Certainly, the sweeter the wine to start with, the more it affects the taste as well as the aroma. Whether or not you like it is a matter of taste, of course.

Maybe it’s just that wines that can age need more - more structure, more body and more acidity. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression is that not only do the ausleses and beerenausleses have more sugar, but the whole grape must is more concentrated with body and acid, too. With that much more intensity to start with, sometimes they can overwhelm when young, and then calm down and knit together as ageing takes hold. Sometimes, all that intensity just makes them amazing to drink young, too.


In fairness, I was remiss about the acidity levels and the ageing process, entirely my fault for the omission, it is a combination of both, but of course the residual sugar levels contained in sweet Rieslings and Sauternes is in a different class re most other wines, and I was emphasising that aspect.
The drier Rieslings that the rest of the world produce can also as with any other wine with high acidity which they have, and increasingly the German Riesling as well, age very well but not generally as well as the sweeter wines that have that double wammy of sugar and acidity.

Some of the dry Rieslings when young can have mouth searing acidity, though with the ones I have drunk that calms down fairly quickly, but by nature will always be present.

Just a footnote, the dry styles that now are so popular were initially very successful in Germany s home market and little was exported as the producers were not at first convinced this was the way forward, it was the constant demand at home that made them realise they had a way to get over the sweet wine image that Riesling had world wide and they are now becoming ever more available, the GG Grosse Gewachs category are now including some wonderful wines, mostly from the Rhinelands but now being fully embraced in the Mosel such is the demand for them, and nearly all can be drunk from a comparatively young age.

Thanks for that comment it gave me a chance to correct an error.


‘not at first convinced this was the way forward…’; not the only reason they weren’t exported. The early ones were pretty poor, until producers learned how to balance dryness, acid and fruit. The early versions gave Germans something to serve at official functions (like early English wines), but weren’t something you would bring home. Years of experience plus some climatic change have made the difference.


That is also true, but when I was there in those early days many of the producers did not want to go the dry route, it was ‘not what they did’ it was the success of the few who initially mastered the process and the subsequent success and demand that changed their minds, indeed much of the early trocken wines were awful, but technology new knowledge and climate change has transformed the German wine making industry not just for dry Riesling but now Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) and even their once terrible acid sekt, now very palatable, it’s been an interesting few decades for German wines.
It is also interesting that even now a few are not producing dry Riesling, the most notable is JJ Prum, I wonder how long they will resist ?


Has anyone had any experience of this wine?

2017 Pewsey Vale 1961 Block Riesling



Yep, its really very, very exceptional.
Do you know who stocks it in the UK?


PV are very good generally. I’ve only had their contours and it was cracking.


This thread catalysed me into taking a Coravin sample from this.

Ignore the vintage on this label, it’s 1997 I’m trying. Last bottle from a case.

Deep gold/yellow. Lovely honeyed nose, and what some call petrol, some kerosene. The latter is closer but personally I don’t think it’s that close.

Quite gentle at first on the palate, but now opening up with a sweetish start but long, drier finish which persists. Not much fruit evident, honey and nuts more like. Maybe a little over the hill, but still very, very good. 21 years old. It does age.

split this topic #71

4 posts were merged into an existing topic: St Valentine Celebrations? [2019]


Fine & Rare (frw.co.uk) currently have some.