September 8, 2010

The Grape Escape: Yo, Bartender! Riesling me

When we call for a white wine by name, most of us reach out for familiar grape monikers like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, or geographical handles such as Soave or Chablis.

Today, let’s give a little more love to one of the world’s greatest white varietals, Riesling, a grape with its roots so deep in Germany’s Rhine and Mosel valleys that its fame goes back to Charlemagne.

Where most whites are crisp, light and tart, Riesling tends to be aromatic and full-bodied. It’s often slightly sweet, but that sweetness is deliciously offset by fresh-fruit acidity.

Germany may be Riesling’s natural home, but it’s grown all over. Here’s an impressive example from western Australia. I got it at Old Town Wines (1529 Bardstown Road, 451-8591, www.oldtownwine.com).

R Wines 2009 “Diddley Bow” Western Australia Riesling ($19.99)

Fresh key lime and orange blossom aromas waft from this brassy-golden wine, shifting toward musky melon in flavor. Medium-bodied and just off-dry, it hits the palate with mouth-watering lime-juice acidity that lingers in a long, shimmering finish. Illustrating the versatility of Riesling as a table wine, it went well with takeout gyros from The Grape Leaf.