Close Menu
Slideshow

Riesling Masters 2018: the results in full

We reveal all the medallist from 2018’s Riesling Masters, in which one country triumphed, particularly for its bone dry expressions.

As one of the world’s most misunderstood grapes, Riesling always makes an intriguing choice for any blind tasting. With this in mind, the judges for 2018’s Riesling Masters arrived for the latest sampling with excited anticipation, wondering what makes this grape so divisive, where one finds the best expressions, and at what prices.
Following a day spent assessing more than 100 examples from around the world, one thing is for sure: this is a white grape that’s rich in personality. With characters ranging from pungent floral aromatics to notes of burnt rubber, and flavours from intense lime to juicy peach, not only does Riesling vary in nature, but it is always distinctive.
Add to this a broad range in textures thanks to different residual sugar levels, and one can understand why consumers can struggle with Riesling. Unless one understands the German wine law, and its terminology, and knows the producer, it is hard to tell what the wine will taste like without trying it.
But let’s not forget this grape’s place as the darling of the wine trade. While it’s common to hear consumers express their dislike for Riesling, never have I heard a professional profess anything other than a deep affection for the grape.
This is because, at its best, this single variety can deliver so much: something packed with layers of flavour, but a palate-cleansing freshness that’s unique in wine.
It is the pure citrus acidity of Riesling that makes it such a great base for sweet wines. Or, if bone dry, a drink that can be kept for decades, revealing a honeyed richness, even where no sugar is present.

Australia rules

If we look at the results from the competition, there is one country that dominates. Despite the extremely strong association of Riesling and Germany – to the extent that it is virtually assumed that all white wine from this country is made with this single grape – it is Australia that has become the most prevalent source of medal-winning Riesling.
But there is one caveat. I’m talking about bone-dry Riesling. If you look at the results for Rieslings in the category of wines with 4g/l or lower, you will see that Australia is pre-eminent.
There are medallists from Alsace, New Zealand, Germany – particularly the warmer Baden region – and even one for Turkey (from the first-rate Chamlija winery), but all the rest have been awarded to Australia. Not only that, but primarily the Eden Valley, followed by the Clare Valley.
Is it safe to say that the best dry Riesling in the world now hails from these two Australian valleys? If your budget is capped at £30, then, I think the answer is ‘yes’ – this part of the world delivers a distinctive, firm, lime-scented vinous refreshment at a price that is unmatched elsewhere.
Go beyond £30, and possibly allow for a touch more residual sugar, and parts of Alsace, and in Germany, the Rheingau especially, one can find more complexity to the Rieslings. But, between £10 and £30, if you favour a very dry style, and you are looking for consistent quality, then Clare and Eden should be your go-to sources of Riesling.
It is doubtless thanks to this that Riesling has no image issues in Australia. Visitors to the country will see that Riesling is commonly featured by the glass in bars and restaurants, and there’s no stigma attached to ordering it, whatever your age or sex. This is because the grape was never the cheap sweet option in this market, and today, one can be assured that when you ask for Riesling, you are ordering a fresh, linear style of white, without the texture of Australia’s better-known export, Chardonnay.
Standouts among the Australian examples were Bird in Hand, McGuigan, Henschke, Wakefield/Taylors, along with pricier Rieslings from Jim Barry Wines and Pike & Joyce. Notably, the sole Master – our ultimate accolade – in this section went to an older vintage, to McGuigan’s Shortlist Riesling from the 2010 harvest, proof that if you can cellar these dry whites, you will be rewarded with something with a touch more textural depth and complexity, as the wine develops some tertiary aromas, from wax to toast.
Moving beyond the bone-dry samples, there are some other producers that deserve to be namechecked. One of the them is Weingut Prinz Von Hessen, for its delicious, pure, fresh but ripe dry Riesling from the Rheingau – and at a very fair sub-£15 retail price. Also, a lovely layered sample from the excellent Alsace co-operative Cave de Ribeauville, with its sub-£20 Grand Cru Osterberg. Then, over £30, and Weingut August Eser wowed the judges with its Grosses Gewaches dry Riesling from the Rheingau, even in its youthful state.

Sweeter styles

When it came to the sweeter styles, two places rose to the top. One of these was Canada’s Niagara Peninsula, where Andrew Peller proved adapt at producing pure, sweet and refreshing Rieslings, and an amazingly concentrated, but bright, Icewine from the 2016 vintage. The other was the Mosel, specifically an example from Reverchon’s Filzener Herrenberg vineyard, which delivered all the power and precision lovers of classic German Riesling so prize.
Tasting, assessing and scoring wines, then debating the results, is an arduous process, but, after a day of Riesling, the judges were full of smiles, and far from fatigued. Indeed, of all noble grapes, Riesling must be the most uplifting.
The judges (left to right): Mark Savage MW, Miles Corish MW, Patrick Schmitt MW, Patricia Stefanowicz MW, David Round MW, Jonathan Pedley MW

The medallists are featured over the following pages, as well as more information about the competition.

Sparkling

Company Product Name Region Country Vintage Medal
Under £10
Kessler Sekt Kessler Riesling Reserve Vintage Württemberg Germany 2015 Silver
Kessler Sekt Kessler Jägergrün Riesling Brut Rheinhessen Germany NV Silver
£15-£20
Andrew Peller Limited Sparkling Riesling Niagara Peninsula Canada NV Silver

Dry (0-4 g/l)

Company Product Name Region Country Vintage Medal
Under £10
Aldi Exquisite Collection Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2017 Silver
Cave de Ribeauvillé Riesling Collection Alsace France 2017 Silver
O’Leary Walker Watervale Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2017 Silver
£10-£15
Bird in Hand Bird in Hand Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2018 Gold
Kahurangi Estate Kahurangi Estate Mt Arthur Reserve Nelson New Zealand 2017 Gold
Australian Vintage McGuigan Cellar Select Riesling Hilltops Australia 2018 Silver
Reillys Wines Reillys Watervale Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2017 Silver
O’Leary Walker Wines O’Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2017 Silver
Weingut Sven Nieger Riesling Trocken Baden Germany 2014 Silver
Rockbare Rockbare Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2018 Silver
Kahurangi Estate Kahurangi Estate Dry Riesling Nelson New Zealand 2018 Silver
Kilikanoon Wines Mort’s Block Watervale Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2017 Silver
Weingut Sven Nieger Riesling Umweg Stich Den Buben Baden Germany 2014 Silver
Bird in Hand Bird in Hand Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2013 Bronze
Cave de Ribeuavillé Riesling Organic Alsace France 2017 Bronze
£15-£20
Australian Vintage McGuigan Shortlist Riesling Eden Valley Australia 2010 Master
Henschke Cellars Peggy’s Hill Eden Valley Australia 2018 Gold
Langmeil Winery Wattle Brae Eden Valley Riesling Eden Valley Australia 2018 Silver
Pike and Joyce Wines Traditionale Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2018 Silver
Chamlija Wines Riesling Strandja Mountains Turkey 2017 Silver
Pernod Ricard Winemakers Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling Eden Valley Australia 2017 Silver
Australian Vintage McGuigan Shortlist Riesling Eden Valley Australia 2018 Silver
Australian Vintage McGuigan Shortlist Riesling Eden Valley Australia 2008 Silver
Woodstock Wine Estate Mary McTaggart’ Riesling McLaren Vale Australia 2017 Bronze
Australian Vintage McGuigan Shortlist Riesling Eden Valley Australia 2017 Bronze
£20-£30
Henschke Cellars Julius Riesling Eden Valley Australia 2018 Gold
Wakefield/Taylors Wines Reserve Parcel Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2017 Gold
Pernod Ricard Winemakers St Hugo Eden Valley Riesling Eden Valley Australia 2018 Silver
Kilikanoon Wines Mort’s Reserve Aged Release Watervale Clare Valley Australia 2011 Silver
Henschke Cellars Green’s Hill Adelaide Hills Australia 2018 Silver
Weingut Sven Nieger KG Riesling Ungezähmt Baden Germany 2017 Silver
£30-£50
Jim Barry Wines The Florita Clare Valley Australia 2017 Gold
Pike and Joyce Wines The Merle Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2018 Gold

Medium-dry (5-12 g/l)

Company Product Name Region Country Vintage Medal
Under £10
Reh Kendermann Limestone Riesling Pfalz Germany 2017 Silver
Reh Kendermann Limestone Riesling Pfalz Germany 2017 Silver
Reh Kendermann Riesling vom Löss Pfalz Germany 2016 Silver
Weingut Prinz von hessen Prinz Von Hessen Riesling Trocken Rheingau Germany 2017 Silver
Reh Kendermann Kendermanns Riesling Pfalz Germany 2017 Bronze
Vina Cono Sur Reserva Especial Riesling Biobío Chile 2018 Bronze
Reh Kendermann Riesling von Kalkstein Pfalz Germany 2016 Bronze
£10-£15
Weingut Prinz Von Hessen Johannisberger Riesling Rheingau Germany 2017 Gold
Trinchero Family Estates Charles & Charles Riesling Washington State USA 2017 Silver
Weingut Würtzberg Rotschiefer Riesling Mosel Germany 2017 Silver
Arba Wine Ak Arba Kazakh Riesling Almatinskaya Oblast Kazakhstan 2013 Silver
Hiestand Asia de Cuba Rhein Germany 2017 Silver
Byrne Vineyards Von Rieben Riesling South Australia Australia 2016 Silver
Weingut Sven Nieger Riesling Mauerblümchen Baden Germany 2016 Bronze
Bird in Hand Honeysuckle Riesling Clare Valley Australia 2018 Bronze
Kahurangi Estate Kahurangi Estate Riesling Nelson New Zealand 2017 Bronze
Remarkable Wines Remarkable Dry Riesling Central Otago New Zealand 2014 Bronze
£15-£20
Cave de Ribeauvillé Riesling Grand Cru Osterberg Alsace France 2014 Gold
Andrew Peller Limited Signature Series Riesling Niagara Peninsula Canada 2016 Silver
Weingut Reverchon Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Trocken Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Germany 2017 Bronze
Andrew Peller Limited Signature Series Riesling Niagara Peninsula Canada 2015 Bronze
£20-£30
Tertini Wines Tertini Tasmania Riesling Tasmania Australia 2017 Silver
Cantina di La-Vis e Valle di Cembra Vigna Cancor Riesling Trentino DOC Trentino Italy 2016 Bronze
£30-£50
Weingut August Eser Nussbrunnen GG trocken VDP Grosse Lage Rheingau Germany 2017 Master
Weingut August Eser Doosberg GG trocken VDP Grosse Lage Rheingau Germany 2017 Silver

Medium (13-45 g/l)

Company Product Name Region Country Vintage Medal
Under £10
Weingut Reverchon Filzener Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett Feinherb Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Germany 2017 Bronze
£10-£15
Andrew Peller Limited Red Rooster Riesling Okanagan Valley Canada 2017 Silver
Andrew Peller Limited Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend Riesling Niagara Peninsula California Canada USA 2016
NV
Bronze
Trinchero Family Estates Sutter Home Riesling California USA NV Bronze
£15-£20
Andrew Peller Limited Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard Niagara Peninsula Canada 2016 Gold
Andrew Peller Limited Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling Niagara Peninsula Canada 2016 Gold
Andrew Peller Limited Trius Winery Showcase Ghost Creek Vineyard Niagara Peninsula Canada 2017 Silver
Andrew Peller Limited Thirty Bench Wine Makers Small Lot Wild Cask Niagara Peninsula Canada 2016 Silver
Andrew Peller Limited Thirty Bench Wine Makers Small Lot
Steel Post Vineyard
Niagara Peninsula Canada 2016 Bronze

Sweet (+46 g/l)

Company Product Name Region Country Vintage Medal
Under £10
Weingut Reverchon Filzener Herrenberg Spätlese Fruchtig Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Germany 2017 Master
Weingut Würtzberg Serriger Herrenberg Spätlese Riesling Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Germany 2017 Silver
Weingut Reverchon Ockfener Bockstein Spätlese Fruchtig Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Germany 2017 Bronze
£15-£20
Weingut Würtzberg Serriger Herrenberg Riesling Auslese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Germany 2017 Silver
£30-£50
Andrew Peller Limited Andrew Peller Signature Series Icewine Niagara Peninsula Canada 2016 Master

About the Global Riesling Masters

The Riesling Masters is a competition created and run by the drinks business, and is an extension of its successful Masters series for grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, as well as regions such as Rioja and Champagne.

The competition is exclusively for Riesling, and the entries were judged using Schott Zwiesel Cru Classic glasses supplied by Wine Sorted.

The top Rieslings were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their result, and those expressions that stood out as being outstanding received the ultimate accolade – the title of Riesling Master.

The wines were tasted on 5 December at the Lady of the Grapes wine bar in Covent Garden, London. This report features the medal-winners only.

The tasting process

All the entries are tasted blind, ensuring that the judges have no knowledge of the identity of each wine beyond its price band and basic style.

Once a score for each wine from every judge has been revealed, and the reasons for the result given, the chair of each judging group will compile an average score, and award medals accordingly.

Each wine is scored on the 100-point scale, with pre-set scoring bands corresponding to the medals awarded, which range from Bronze to Gold, and Master – the ultimate accolade, awarded only to outstanding samples. The judges are told to consider the resulting medal when assigning their score.

The bands are as follows: 85-88 – Bronze; 89-92 – Silver; 93-96 – Gold; 97-100 – Master.

Although the judges are tough, they are accurate and consistent, and the open judging process allows for debate and the revision of initial assessments.

Within the style and price category, the judges are looking for appropriate flavours – be they attributable to the vineyard or the winemaking processes. They are also in search of complexity, intensity and persistence at levels expected of the style and price band. In particular, the judges will reward wines highly if they have both balance and personality.

Thanks to the quality of the judges and the sampling process, the Global Masters provides an unrivalled chance to draw attention to hidden gems, as well as confirm the excellence of the renowned.

For further information please contact any of the team at the drinks business on +44(0)207 803 2420 or email Sophie Raichura at sophie@thedrinksbusiness.com

Judge’s comment: Patricia Stefanowicz MW

“As ever, Riesling confirmed its status as one of the brilliant white grape varieties. Whatever style, whether dry, medium-dry or sweet, these wines demonstrate why Riesling is ‘beloved by the wine trade’.
The integrity and purity of fruit expression in the trocken wines of Germany, the concentration of flavour in the wines of Alsace and the few examples from Austria, the zesty lemon-lime citrus personality of wines from Eden and Clare valleys and the lively flavourful wines from Canada and Washington State show a variety of styles whilst maintaining consistency of high quality. Compact wines, tightly knit.
Balance between concentration of flavour and acidity in the dry wines is a particular joy; balance of fruit, acidity and sugar is generally nicely judged and the Spatlese wines from Germany hit the ‘sweet spot’.
Sparkling wines, albeit a small group, well, glittered like stars with excellent mousse textures, plenty of Riesling character and just the right amount of gentle yeast.
Riesling offers exceptional value, especially in the £10-15 bracket, throughout the different sweetness levels. At £15-20 the wines are even more interesting, layered and complex with intensity of flavour most noticeable in the drier styles. Here the wines from Germany and Alsace and Australia tasted well.
There were also a couple of mid-priced (£10-15) sweet wines that were delicious, a couple showing nuances of noble rot and a little development.
One stunning Canadian Ice Wine (£30-50) demonstrated why the wine world rates these lovely gems so highly.”

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No