Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are seldom oaked. As of 2004, Riesling was estimated to be the world's 20th most grown variety at (with an increasing trend),〔J. Robinson (ed) ''The Oxford Companion to Wine'' Third Edition, Oxford University Press 2006, pg. 746: ''"Vine varieties"'', ISBN 0-19-860990-6〕 but in terms of importance for quality wines, it is usually included in the "top three" white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc. Riesling is a variety which is highly "''terroir''-expressive", meaning that the character of Riesling wines is greatly influenced by the wine's place of origin.
In cool climates (such as many German wine regions), Riesling wines tend to exhibit apple and tree fruit notes with noticeable levels of acidity that are sometimes balanced with residual sugar. A late-ripening variety that can develop more citrus and peach notes is grown in warmer climates (such as Alsace and parts of Austria). In Australia, Riesling is often noted for a characteristic lime note that tends to emerge in examples from the Clare and Eden Valley in South Australia. Riesling's naturally high acidity and pronounced fruit flavors give wines made from the grape exceptional aging potential, with well-made examples from favorable vintages often developing smokey, honey notes, and aged German Rieslings, in particular, taking on a "petrol" character.〔Wine & Spirits Education Trust ''"Wine and Spirits: Understanding Wine Quality"'' pgs 6-9, Second Revised Edition (2012), London, ISBN 9781905819157〕
In 2006, Riesling was the most grown variety in Germany with 20.8% and ,〔(German Wine Institute: German Wine Statistics 2007-2008 )〕 and in the French region of Alsace with 21.9% and .〔(CIVA website ), read on September 9, 2007〕 In Germany, the variety is particularly widely planted in the Mosel, Rheingau, Nahe and Pfalz wine regions. There are also significant plantings of Riesling in Austria, Serbia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Luxembourg, northern Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, China, Ukraine, Washington, California and New York.〔
Riesling has a long history, and there are several written references to the variety dating from the 15th century, although with varying orthography.〔Freddy Price, ''Riesling Renaissance'' Mitchell Beazley 2004, pg. 16-18 ISBN 1-84000-777-X〕 The earliest of these references dates from March 13, 1435, when the storage inventory of the high noble Count John IV. of Katzenelnbogen in Rüsselsheim (a small principality on the Rhine, close to today's Rheingau) lists ''"22 ß umb seczreben Rießlingen in die wingarten"'' ("22 shillings for Riesling vine cuttings for the vineyard").〔http://www.graf-von-katzenelnbogen.de/ The History of the County of Katzenelnbogen and the First Riesling of the World〕〔(Winzerfreunde Rüsselsheim - facsimile and translation of the 1435 document ) 〕 The spelling ''Rießlingen'' is repeated in many other documents of the time. The modern spelling ''Riesling'' was first documented in 1552 when it was mentioned in Hieronymus Bock's Latin herbal.〔Oz Clarke, ''The Encyclopedia of Grapes'' Websters International Publishers 2001, pg. 192 ISBN 0-15-100714-4〕
A map of Kintzheim in Alsace from 1348 contains the text ''zu dem Russelinge'', but it is not certain that this reference is to the grape variety.〔 However, in 1477, Riesling was documented in Alsace under the spelling ''Rissling''.〔Freddy Price, ''Riesling Renaissance'' Mitchell Beazley 2004, pg. 90-92 ISBN 1-84000-777-X〕 In Wachau in Austria, there is a small stream and a small vineyard both called ''Ritzling'', which are claimed locally to have given Riesling its name. However, there seems to be no documentary evidence to back this up, so this claim is not widely believed to be correct.〔Freddy Price, ''Riesling Renaissance'' Mitchell Beazley 2004, pg. 118 ISBN 1-84000-777-X〕
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