<strong>Rated “R” for Riesling </strong>

Grapevine By Al Begin

Published on August 15, 2014
Only 840 award-winning 2013 Domaine de Grand Pré Riesling bottles have been released to the NSLC across the province. About two dozen bottles are expected to arrive in Truro within the next few days. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Many people will find it hard to believe that the Riesling grape is actually believed by many wine critics to be the world’s finest white wine grape.

Noted wine critic Jancis Robinson states that, “Riesling is indisputably the greatest white wine grape in the world.” This is likely surprising due to the fact that Riesling wines obtained a bad name in the 1980s as what was being sold in North America at the time was the sickly sweet version. It took lots of hard work by the industry to overcome this stereotype.


There are still many persons who associate the Riesling name with the very sweet Rieslings. The truth is that the majority of Rieslings in the world are dry or semi-dry.


The Riesling grape is an aromatic grape. The Riesling grape performs best when the winemakers do not over-complicate the fermentation process, but rather allow the grape to speak for itself. Consequently, you will not find many oaked Rieslings


The Riesling grape is very good at exhibiting the terroir from where it is grown.


If you are looking for a dry Riesling, look for the word “Trocken” on the label. If you are looking for a semi-dry Riesling, look for the word “Halbtrocken” on the label.


The sweetness rankings for Rieslings from driest to sweetest is as follows: Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and then Trockenbeerenauslese. The following are not true Rieslings: Welschriesling, Scharwzriesling, Cape Riesling and Gray Riesling.



The first documented mention of the Riesling grape is found in monastery documents from 1435. The expansion of the Riesling plantings in Germany commenced in the late 1600’s.


There are approximately 89,000 acres of Riesling planted throughout the world. More than 60 per cent of those are in Germany. Australia, France and the United States each have about 10 per cent of the Riesling vines planted. The most popular Riesling regions in Germany are the Rhine and Mosel.


The Riesling grape grows well in cooler climates.


A very nice wine region much closer to home that specializes in the Riesling grape/wine would be the Finger Lakes district in New York State. They produce many wonderful, and award-winning, Rieslings. So, if you are thirsty and bored some weekend, get in your car for a drive to check them out.

It is pronounced “Reez-ling” and should be served quite cold, at 43F (6 C).




Congratulations to the three Nova Scotia wineries that won the inaugural Lieutenant- Governor’s Award for Excellence in Nova Scotia Wines. The awards were presented on July 23. The winners were selected by a blind-tasting panel of independent experts.


The winners of the 2014 awards were Blomidon Estate Winery for its 2010 Cuvée L’Acadie, Avondale Sky Winery for its 2012 Martock, and Domaine de Grand Pré for its 2013 Riesling. 


The 2013 Domaine de Grand Pré Riesling is this month’s featured wine by your favourite tasting panel.



Rieslings pair really well with spicy Indian or Asian dishes.  They also pair well with cheeses.  Drier Rieslings can be paired with white fish or pork, while sweeter Rieslings would pair well with desserts.


The high acidity and high residual sugar levels in Rieslings make them ideal for long-term aging.  The very sweet (dessert) Rieslings can age for many decades.



The Restricted Truro Daily News Wine Tasting Panel was honoured to be given an advanced tasting of the 2013 Domaine de Grand Pré before it is released to the NSLC stores. In fact, we were even privileged enough to taste the wine while it was still in the tank at the winery before it was even bottled!


The Grapevine has worked closely with Truro’s main NSLC store for the past couple of weeks to try and get some of the only 840 award-winning 2013 Domaine de Grand Pré Riesling bottles that have been released to the NSLC delivered to Truro. Many thanks from the Grapevine to Alechia, the manager of our local NSLC. She pulled some strings, and used some favours with NSLC head office, to make this happen.


Truro will be fortunate to have a special shipment of only 24 to 36 bottles of the 2013 Domaine de Grand Pré Riesling in the town’s main NSLC store, possibly by this weekend or Monday.


The Domaine de grand Pré winemaker, Jurg Stutz, said their Riesling vines were initially planted in 2010 in their estate vineyard. They have approximately two acres of Riesling vines. The first crop (a small one) was produced in 2012, and a larger crop was produced in 2013. Both crops were blended for the 2013 Riesling being reviewed. It is made from 100 per cent Riesling grapes.

Stutz is assisted in the winemaking process at the winery by Patrick Cantieni. 


The wine has a nose of apple, honey, lychee and peach. It tastes of pear, orange, and citrus (with a possible hint of lime) and minerality. It has a nice balance with a medium body. The taste is of a crisp, not overly sweet, Riesling and has a medium finish.


This is a wonderful Riesling. 


A restricted movie requires a minimum age of 18 for admission. The Restricted Daily News Tasting Panel gave this wine a rating of 15.1 years out of 18. 


With this wine’s acidity and residual sugars, it should age nicely in your cellar. As Jurg says, “this wine has great potential to age gracefully.”


Al Begin is the chief wine rater for the Restricted Truro Daily News Wine Tasting Panel.  You can send your wine questions, or recommendations, to him at tdngrapevine@gmail.com.