It's not a typo (my auto-correct feature suggests "Riesling" instead), I haven't had too much to drink (sadly), it's not a new marketing term (as you probably are not sure how to pronounce the full name of this beauty you may have figured this out on your own) --- Rieslaner is indeed yet another of those German grape varieties you may have never heard of. You don't have to be too confused though, as Riesling was in fact one of its parents. I'd like to think Riesling was the father, whereas the Silvaner grape surely must be the mother, but I am probably falling for half a dozen sexist clichés here. However, one cliché is true: this German wine is sweet indeed. Very sweet. And delightful!
So let me introduce you to the child of my two favourite German grape varieties, a bright and fun kid that just doesn't like to travel much from home.
Even in Germany Rieslaner is somewhat rare. There may only be around 100 ha of Silvaner wines across the country - most of it is grown in Franken, the Pfalz and Rheinhessen. Our specimen was made by the Keller family who are amongst Rheinhessen's, in fact Germany's, most renowned winemakers, which bodes well for our first venture into Rieslaner.
Rieslaner was bred from Riesling and Silvaner in 1921 - the 20s not just being the roaring twenties but also the period when mad German wine scientists were crossing anything and everything shaped like a prolate spheroid. In the case of Rieslaner they were successful and created a late-ripening grape that tends to have very high acidity. If you don't let it ripen properly I reckon you can just use the wine for the next mad scientist's experiment, but with ripe grapes the acidity should be balanced - ideally by lots of sweetness, so it is a good thing that Rieslaner takes well to botrytis. These sweet wines can be stunning, and today we are looking at such a beauty.
As you'd expect from a good Rieslaner, the Keller wine comes to live through the dynamic between fruit flavours/aromas, sweetness and acidity - and it has a lot of it, and in harmony. There is peach, citrus, apricot and some passion fruit, and while it is all very sweet the Rieslaner is never cloying, in fact for a substantial sweet wine it is quite elegant and precise. It also brings herbal aromas into play and entertains your tongue with candy texture and flavours. It may not quite have the complexity to blow your fuse (a German phrase I am trying to introduce), but it is no doubt a very accomplished wine of high quality doesn't have to hide from any sweet wine. Even for a half-bottle it is fairly priced - and when it comes to those very sweet wines I am usually happy with a smaller portion anyway as they can be so intense.
Cheers to Rieslaner!