Embracing World Cup fever, my friends Justin and Danielle organized a blind tasting of Rieslings from around the globe.  Twelve Rieslings representing nine different countries competed in a head to head blind tasting competition.  We were asked to taste each wine and jot down our impressions, notes, and scores.  Then at the end we ranked our top three favorites in order, as well as our least favorite wine.  Please read my additional recap below, but here are the final results!

Riesling Cup Winners:

Winner:  2009 Donnhoff, Nahe, Germany
Runner up:  2007 Pegasus Bay, Waipara Valley, New Zealand
Consolation:  2008 Wiemer, Semi Dry, Fingerlakes, NY  USA

Last Place:  2008 Trimbach, Alsace, France

Complete wine list:

1. 2006 Chono Reserva, Bio Bio Valley, Chile
2. 2007 Gamla, Galilee, Israel
3. 2007 Substance, Columbia Valley, Washington  USA
4. 2008 Gobelsburger, Kamptal, Austria
5. 2008 Trimbach, Alsace, France
6. 2006 Leeuwin Artist Series, Margaret River, Australia
7. 2008 Montinore, Almost Dry, Willamette Valley, Oregon  USA
8. 2008 Wiemer, Semi Dry, Fingerlakes, NY  USA
9. 2009 Donnhoff, Nahe, Germany
10. 2007 Pegasus Bay, Waipara Valley, New Zealand
11. 2007 Cave Spring, Niagara Peninsula, Canada
12. 2009 Adam, Hofberg Kabinett, Mosel Valley, Germany

For most people when they think of Riesling, they think of it as a sweet wine, but in fact, Riesling can be sweet, semi sweet, or dry.  And sometimes, somewhere in between one of these descriptors.  The wines in this tasting were arranged from highest alcohol content to lowest.  So number one was the highest with number twelve being the lowest.  The thinking and general rule of thumb being the higher the alcohol content the drier the Riesling, the lower the sweeter it will be.  I would say that the wines did tend to get sweeter as we went along with the last wine certainly being the sweetest but in the first half the wines tended to be dry to semi sweet, whereas the wines tended to be semi sweet to sweet in the second half.  In this sense Riesling can be a difficult wine to choose because the style can be so different, but the general rule of thumb on alcohol level versus sweetness seems to be a good starting place.  I personally found the driest wines to be very dry and tart with predominantly citrus flavors.  Wines 1, 4, 5, and 6 representing the driest versions.  Wines number 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 I think could be categorized as semi sweet to varying degrees.  While wine number 12 I would say was by far the sweetest, I think that wines 7-11 could fall into the borderline semi sweet to sweet category.  At any rate, it really depends on what you like, I personally found the dry Rieslings too tart for my palate, and I really like the number 12, the sweetest, but would maybe serve it as a more light dessert wine.  I think the top scoring wines represented a good balance of crispness and a just slightly sweet honeyed quality.  As refreshment after a hot summers day, I think that hint of sweetness is pretty tasty!  Try a Riesling or two, you might be surprised, especially since New York State’s Finger Lake region represents one of the best places in the world to produce this interesting wine.