You would be forgiven in thinking that South African Rieslings are overtly fruity, terpene-scented, off-dry and quite simply, boring. They just don’t have the freshness and purity that have made the continental European versions so very much in vogue. Riesling has had a checkered history in SA and few producers focus on the variety.
Behind the scenes however, the South African Riesling revival has been dramatic. Ten years ago, almost all of the 200 hectares* were planted in our warmer regions. A decade later, more than 50% of our Riesling is planted in the cooler regions with Elgin holding 27 of the total 150 hectares!
New-wave South African Riesling is exemplified in this cracking offering from under-the-radar winemaker Carsten Migliarina. His dry, taut, low alcohol 2016 Seitensprung Riesling is just brilliant and offers huge value at R130.
‘Very classy Riesling unlike anything I’ve tasted recently in South Africa, built more in a structured German Nahe or Rheingau Trocken style,’ wrote Greg Sherwood MW on his blog and awarded it a remarkable 92 points.
In fact, there are a slew of fine Elgin Rieslings to consider, including the 95-point Spioenkop 2015 which is undoubtedly SA’s best and most serious.
For those seeking a traditional Mosel style, we have just landed the incredible 2015s from Willi Schaefer. Described by Christoph Schaefer as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime vintage’, the Schaefer 2015s are exquisitely balanced and pure with the ability to age for decades. We offer the Kabinett from Graacher Himmelreich but also have limited stock of their other styles.
Viva the Riesling revival, viva!
* According to SAWIS
Migliarina, Seitensprung Riesling 2016 – R 130
Like all Carsten’s wines, this is another serious effort. So grown up and old worldly in style. Not sure how he pulls it off time and time again, but this is so taut and mineral-laden with gravel, wet river pebbles, wet chalk, dried herbs and dry summer stable straw. The palate is a mirror image of the nose, seamlessly balanced and vibrantly fresh showing crunchy green apple, dried straw spice, pithy green pear, and incredibly rasping dry lemon complemented by crystalline purity and framed by profound liquid minerality. This is a very classy Riesling unlike anything I’ve tasted recently in South Africa, built more in a structured German Nahe or Rheingau Trocken style. Superb wine. Glückwunsch Carsten! – Greg Sherwood MW, 92/100
Willi Schaefer, Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett 2015 – R 335
The 2015 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett is very clear, fresh, fine and stony on the nose, but also pretty intense. Lush and juicy on the palate, this is a mouthful of Riesling that is balanced by its salty-mineral background and the filigreed acidity. The finish is long, complex and very well structured – and indicating a very good aging potential or 15 or more years. It has 7.5% alcohol and 55 grams of residual sugar. – Wine Advocate, 91/100