Riesling is the Cinderella of white grapes. It is one of the noble varieties, with origins dating back to Roman times. However, in the modern wine world, its beauty and purity are often overshadowed by its sisters, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. One riesling crusader is master of wine Jancis Robinson, who has devoted much time and energy to promoting the grape.
"For roughly 35 years I have been talking up riesling, describing it as the world's greatest white wine grape," she says. But, Robinson admits, "I increasingly get the feeling that I will be taking this knowledge to my grave, unshared with the great mass of wine drinkers. I used to want to convert them all to the virtues of riesling but more and more I realise that riesling just has too strong a personality to appeal to enough consumers to gain global traction."
It is not all doom and gloom. The German Wine Institute, aka Wines of Germany, has been hosting "Riesling weeks" in Hong Kong for three consecutive years to celebrate the country's most famous grape variety.
The grape is versatile and makes dry, and off-dry to rich, dessert wines. Best of all, it is a great accompaniment to Asian cuisines: a natural fit for the subtle flavours of Japanese and Cantonese dishes, it also has the muscle to stand up to rich and spicy Thai, Sichuan and Indian food.
Insiders tout young, up-and-coming wine producer Andreas Adam. His winery, Weingut AJ Adam, is located in the Mosel valley, Germany's fourth-largest wine-producing region. Adam started making wines only in 2000, but is already gaining a reputation for producing high-quality dry, off-dry and sweet wines. The vineyard is small, covering 4.5 hectares spread over 30 plots. Vines are cultivated on the steep, south-facing slopes of Hofberg. The soils composed of grey/blue slate give his wines its characteristic mineral, flinty hallmark.
Hofberg Trocken Riesling, Weingut AJ Adam, 2013
If you prefer your rieslings dry and steely, try this Trocken.
Hints of floral, citrus honey with mineral notes. Medium body, taut acidic backbone, intense fruit. Moderate alcohol level and finishing fairly long. HK$300
Piesporter Terrassen, Weingut AJ Adam (Adam & Haart), 2013
In Piesporter, Adam works with his partner, Julian Haart. The wine is a blend of fruit sourced from several terraced vineyards.
Quite restrained nose with apple, citrus and mineral notes. Well balanced, with a hint of residual sweetness, grapefruit notes and finishing long. Easy to drink style. HK$250
Hofberg Spatlese, Weingut AJ Adam, 2013
Spatlese means late harvested, and grapes are picked later with higher sugar levels. These wines tend to have higher levels of sugar, which are beautifully balanced with high acidity. It gives the wine a perception of sweetness without being cloying.
Intense honeyed, baked apples, citrus notes. Medium body with rich concentration of fruit, grapefruit. Well balanced sweetness with acidity with a long, clean finish. Lower levels of alcohol. HK$230
The wines are available from wellspringwines.com.