I’m not a big fan
of the “ah ha” moment vernacular, especially as it’s used in the wine business,
but I must say I like the notion of wine drinkers experimenting with new wines and
then almost out of nowhere, “they get it.” As the summer plays out in Whistler,
I’m hoping you will reach for a glass of fresh, crisp, tasty riesling, and
after a sip or two, you get it.
Many wine types
believe it’s time the noble white grape that was once the toast of the wine
world, a mere century ago, be restored to its former glory. But the often
referred to “riesling renaissance” has sputtered of late in some parts of North
America, mostly at the store level where consumers have the final choice.
The official home
of riesling is Germany but, ironically, it’s the fresh floral, fruit flavours
of grapes grown outside of Deutschland — in places like Australia, New
Zealand, Washington State, New York’s Finger Lakes and Canada’s Niagara and
Okanagan wine regions — that are leading the rush back to riesling.
A global return to
riesling is all fine with German winemaker Johannes Selbach, a modern-day
riesling ambassador who seems to spend an inordinate amount of time in
Vancouver and Whistler. Selbach, the proprietor of the Mosel-based
Selbach-Oster (at Zeltingen) will take whatever help he can get.
Selbach, “You don’t have to beat down the walls anymore to get people to taste
or buy riesling, that’s past. Worldwide, it’s like everybody has put it back on
the map. We see new business beyond Japan and Hong Kong in Russia and Asia. All
the new markets that were heavily, heavily into red wines are now rediscovering
whites, and riesling is one of them. Even in Germany, believe it or not, people
are drinking a lot more riesling.”
newfound success have something to do with its ability to pair well with food?
Certainly he is enjoying a great deal of success with the Selbach Riesling Dry
Fish Label, a wine he designed for food, hence, the fish on the label. It’s
classic Selbach where the philosophy is to make elegant, crisp, low-alcohol
wines packed with flavours. “Our ideal wine,” says Johannes, “is one that
reflects the parents of the wine — the mineral-rich slate soil and the
ripe, juicy riesling fruit.”
Selbach is just
releasing a new “fighting varietal” riesling that may eventually be given the
moniker Dr S. The plan is to take on the market leader Dr L. Riesling made by a
regional colleague, Ernie Loosen, and the Bird Label Pfalz riesling made by
another crusader, Rainer Lingenfelder.