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Riesling is the grape variety which, like the well-known Phoenix, is rising from the ashes of relative obscurity. As more and more of us seek interesting alternatives to the ubiquitous Chardonnay and Sauvignon, the myriad of flavours available from the Riesling come as a welcome relief. This noble grape variety reaches its apogee when grown in the Mosel and Rhinelands of Germany, but only achieves truly classic status when the yields are limited - something which, up until recently, has been the exception rather than the norm.
The flavours can range from the steely, zingy and dry through to the richly fruity - with overtones of peaches, apples and apricots with differing levels of sweetness, depending on the ripeness of the grapes when picked. Even at its sweetest, Riesling, in the right hands, has a wonderfully piercing fruit-acidity which has never been emulated outside Germany. Over the past few years, a number of UK wine merchants and shippers have been reporting a revival of interest in these unique wines and it would also appear that the "Piersteiner" drinkers are beginning to discover the pleasure of real German wines, as the sales of Liebfraumilch, Piesporter and Niersteiner have fallen by a little over 50% in the past 6 years.