The best wines from The Global Riesling Masters 2021
A full report on 2021’s Global Riesling Masters, featuring all the medal-winners, most-successful styles, best-value drops, and highlight bottles – including some brilliant wines from Kazakhstan. By Patricia Stefanowicz MW
AFTER AN exceptional day of judging the Riesling Masters 2021, it is difficult to understand what is not to love about the wines made from the Riesling variety. Its range of styles and quality levels is apparent, and at almost every price category Riesling offers unbelievable value for money. This great grape variety shows its range beautifully, far beyond its ‘homeland’ of Germany, Alsace and Austria.
The judging day began as it planned to continue. The dry wines, with just a tiny amount of residual sugars and usually ripe fruit, have purity of citrus flavours, ranging from lemon-lime, tangerine and orange zest in Australia through to apple, pear, apricot, honey and minerality in wines from Germany or Alsace. Many of the wines have a lovely accent of lemon or orange blossom, adding interest. Every ‘dry’ Riesling, from Under £10 to Over £50, was awarded at least a Silver medal. Many earned well-deserved Golds and a Master capped this group.
Above £20 the wines have elegance and impeccable balance between sweetness, acidity and fruit flavours with added interest of floral and honey accents.
A couple of wines in these drier categories had been aged in older oak barrels of various sizes, which gives extra depth and interest to the aromatics and rounding the texture in the mouth.
When used with discretion, use of ‘old-and-large’ oak is to be commended.
Medium dry wines seem to have adjusted the sugar-acidity balance with care and attention. These are delightful pure Rieslings, often fairly delicate with jasmine and lemon and orange blossom accenting orchard fruits. Under £10, the wines may be relatively simple, but they are eminently quaffable. Chile and Germany often perform well here. At £10- £20 almost everyone else joins the party. There were mouth-watering wines from parts of the world as varied as Chile, Australia, South Africa, Alsace, Germany, Austria, Washington State and Canada.
With ‘medium-sweet’ wines, Germany and Canada dominate and, above £15, reach excellent concentration and balance. They are very fruity, showing golden apples, apricots, and acacia honey-scent; these wines are sustained by racy acidity across the palate and on the brisk finish. The wines are a perfect match to soft goats’ or ewes’ cheeses or fruit-based tartlets. Rhubarb or apple crumble, which echo the flavours in the wines, are also good pairings.
We did not see too many sweet wines in the 2021 Riesling Masters. Those we did judge, though, were very nice: delicate, light bodied with lovely balance of fruit definition, honeyed sweetness and zippy acidity.
Our single Icewine, a well-recognised and well-respected expression from Niagara in Canada, did not disappoint in any way. Intensely sweet with masses of concentrated ripe orchard fruit, but framed by bracing acidity, the wine is layered and textured.
An exciting surprise were three wines from a producer and region that was previously unknown. Arba Wines from Kazakhstan’s Assa Valley earned the highest kudos of the day from this judge. What a revelation.
Please scroll down to see all the medal winners from the 2021 Global Riesling Masters as well as tasting notes on the top 15 wines of the competition.
|Winery||Name of Wine||Region||Country||Vintage||Medal|
|Dry (Up to 4 g/l)|
|Wakefield/Taylors Wines||Specially Selected Riesling||Clare Valley||Australia||2020||Silver|
|Cono Sur||Bicicleta Riesling||Central Valley||Chile||2021||Silver|
|Charles Smith Wines||Kung Fu Girl Riesling||Washington State||USA||2020||Silver|
|Wakefield/Taylors Wines||Estate Riesling||Clare Valley||Australia||2021||Silver|
|Via Wines||Chilensis Old Secret||Maule Valley||Chile||2021||Silver|
|Klein Constantia||Riesling||Western Cape||South Africa||2017||Gold|
|Cave de Ribeauvillé||Riesling||Alsace||France||2019||Gold|
|Cheramie Wine||Cheramie Wine||Texas High Plains||USA||2019||Silver|
|McGuigan||Shortlist Riesling||Eden Valley||Australia||2021||Silver|
|Cave de Ribeauvillé||Riesling Grand Cru Osterberg||Alsace||France||2018||Gold|
|Wakefield/Taylors Wines||St Andrews Riesling||Clare Valley||Australia||2021||Silver|
|Domaine Kirrenbourg||Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg K||Alsace||France||2018||Master|
|Arba Wine||Ak Arba Kazakh Riesling||Almaty||Kazakhstan||2014||Gold|
|Domaines Schlumberger||Riesling Grand Cru Kessler||Alsace||France||2018||Gold|
|Schloss Vollrads||Schlossberg Grosses Gewächs||Rheingau||Germany||2018||Gold|
|Domaines Schlumberger||Riesling Grand Cru Saering||Alsace||France||2019||Silver|
|Arba Wine||Ak Arba Riesling Reserve||Almaty||Kazakhstan||2015||Master|
|Winery||Name of Wine||Region||Country||Vintage||Medal|
|Medium Dry (up to 12 g/l)|
|Luis Felipe Edwards||Gran Reserva Riesling||Leyda Valley||Chile||2021||Gold|
|Schmitt Söhne||Thomas Schmitt Private Collection Riesling QbA Dry||Mosel||Germany||2020||Silver|
|Cono Sur||Single Vineyard Riesling||Bío Bío Valley||Chile||2020||Silver|
|MontGras||Handcrafted Rare Riesling||Bío Bío Valley||Chile||2020||Gold|
|Luis Felipe Edwards||Marea Riesling||Leyda Valley||Chile||2021||Gold|
|Cave de Ribeauvillé||Riesling Vieilles Vignes||Alsace||France||2019||Silver|
|Cave de Ribeauvillé||Riesling Bio||Alsace||France||2019||Silver|
|Thirty Bench Wine Makers||Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard||Beamsville Bench||Canada||2019||Bronze|
|Cave de Ribeauvillé||Riesling Silberberg||Alsace||France||2019||Gold|
|Salomon Undhof||Ried Kögl||Kremstral||Austria||2019||Gold|
|Weingut Hans Wirsching||Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg Riesling Großes Gewächs||Franken||Germany||2018||Gold|
|De Bortoli Wines||La Bohème Act One Riesling||Yarra Valley||Australia||2021||Silver|
|Schloss Vollrads||Winkel Riesling Kabinett Trocken||Rheingau||Germany||2019||Silver|
|Cave de Ribeauvillé||Riesling Mühlforst||Alsace||France||2019||Silver|
|Domaine Kirrenbourg||Riesling Grand Cru Brand||Alsace||France||2018||Gold|
|Arba Wine||Ak Arba Riesling||Almaty Region||Kazakhstan||2012||Master|
|Medium (up to 45 g/l)|
|Schmitt Söhne||Thomas Schmitt Private Collection QbA||Mosel||Germany||2020||Bronze|
|SeaGlass Wine Company||SeaGlass Riesling||Monterey County||USA||2020||Gold|
|Closheim||Kolonne Null Riesling||Nahe||Germany||2020||Bronze|
|Thirty Bench Wine Makers||Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask||Beamsville Bench||Canada||2019||Gold|
|Thirty Bench Wine Makers||Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard||Beamsville Bench||Canada||2019||Silver|
|Thirty Bench Wine Makers||Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard||Beamsville Bench||Canada||2019||Silver|
|Peller Estates||Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling||Niagara-on-the-Lake||Canada||2019||Silver|
|Trius||Showcase Riesling Ghost Creek Vineyard||Four Mile Creek||Canada||2019||Silver|
|Sweet (+45 g/l)|
|Schmitt Söhne||Thomas Schmitt Private Collection Riesling Kabinett||Mosel||Germany||2020||Silver|
|Schmitt Söhne||Thomas Schmitt Private Collection Riesling Spätlese||Mosel||Germany||2020||Silver|
|Schmitt Söhne||Thomas Schmitt Private Collection Riesling Auslese||Mosel||Germany||2020||Silver|
|Peller Estates||Andrew Peller Riesling Icewine||Niagara Peninsula||Canada||2019||Master|
Top 15 best performers
CAVE DE RIBEAUVILLÉ RIESLING ALSACE AOC
Residual sugar level: 1.6g/l
Approx. retail price: £15
This Riesling is grown on gentle east-facing slopes near the renowned Alsace village of Ribeauvillé. Dry, light-bodied with racy acidity, the wine shows lovely Galia melon fruit, lemon and lime zest and a flinty overtone reflecting the limestone-sandstone soils. The nicely balanced flavours last well. Delightful with light fish, such as sole or red mullet, in a delicate white-wine sauce.
MONTGRAS HANDCRAFTED RARE RIESLING
Residual sugar level: 5.5g/l
Approx. retail price: £19
From a Chilean winery with ‘soul’ and a focus on sustainability comes this lovely, bright organic Riesling from the very cool Bío-Bío Valley in southern Chile. Pale lemon-green in hue, the wine shows delicate, almost haunting, aromatics of white peach and orange blossom. Just off-dry, a light body and racy acidity support the vibrant fruit through to a zippy finish with a hint of white pepper. Excellent with prawns, white fish or a wide range of salads. Perhaps grilled squid with red-pepper chili jam as a garnish.
CAVE DE RIBEAUVILLÉ ALSACE RIESLING AOC SILBERBERG
Residual sugar level: 6.4g/l
Approx. retail price: £22
Unusually, the village of Rorschwihr, in the Haut-Rhin foothills of the Vosges, has no Grands Crus vineyards. But, the clay, marl and limestone soils support a number of high-quality lieu-dits, including this renowned Silberberg. This Riesling is a gem: yellow fruits with jasmine, orange and lemon blossom notes and hint of gentle honey lead to a well-defined, medium-dry palate with light body, racy acidity and a long, sappy finish with a saline note. Perfect choice with salmon terrine or classic fish pie, but will also complement delicate Chinese or Thai dishes, vegetarian risotto, or lighter blue cheeses.
AK ARBA RIESLING
Residual sugar level: 6g/l
Approx. retail price: £70
Occasionally, one tastes a wine and believes that judging wines cannot get any better. This Riesling, now with nearly 20 years of age, is astounding. From Kazakhstan, with its steep mountainsides and gently rolling green hills planted with vineyards along the Assa Valley, this wine is a crown jewel. Medium yellow-gold in colour, the wine shows a pure apricot and orange blossom nose with hints of orange marmalade, honey and grapefruit. Medium-dry in style and mid-weight with brisk acidity giving structure, the wine is textured and has layers of flavour. Well-integrated and complex, it lingers with a long, plushtextured finish. A supreme example of a beautifully aged wine.
ANDREW PELLER RIESLING ICEWINE
Residual sugar level: 180g/l
Approx. retail price: £50/375ml
Made from Riesling grapes hand-picked in the middle of the night when temperatures drop to -10ºC, then pressed while still frozen, the resulting juice is extremely high in sugar and acidity. Because of the sugar levels, the glycerol content and the cold winter temperatures, the wine barely ferments before fermentation stops, leaving a wine very high in sweetness with balancing high acidity. This example is exceptional. With around 180g/l of reducing sugars, the wine is concentrated, displaying ripe apricots and orange marmalade.
KLEIN CONSTANTIA RIESLING
Residual sugar level: 3.5g/l
Approx. retail price: £17
From the historic fertile vineyard overlooking the Constantia Valley and False Bay on the South African coast comes this lovely Riesling. Nearly dry with lively acidity and light body, the wine shows pure white peach and pear aromas and flavours accented with orange marmalade and lemon blossom notes. Long, lifted finish. A beautiful wine that begs for a creamy goat’s cheese or moules marinières.
CAVE DE RIBEAUVILLÉ RIESLING ALSACE GRAND CRU AOC OSTERBERG
Residual sugar level: 0.5g/l
Approx. retail price: £28.50
From an east (‘ost’)/southeast–facing vineyard with marl-limestonesandstone soils within the commune of Ribeauvillé, this example is delightful. Exhibiting green apple and pear fruit with lemon and tangerine citrus notes, and ‘minerality’, the wine is bone dry and light-bodied, concentrated with racy acidity framing the greenfruits and a stony ‘smack’ on the palate. It’s youthful, but would be delicious with trout almandine or pumpkin soup even. This is a winner with a long life ahead.
AK ARBA KAZAK RIESLING
Residual sugar level: 4g/l
Approx. retail price: £30
A welcome surprise from rescued vineyards in Kazakhstan. Established by Zeinulla Kakimzhanov in consultation with renowned Italian agronomist Mario Fregoni on abandoned Soviet vineyard sites in the 1,000m-high Assa Valley near Karakemer village in Almaty, the wine is a revelation. Attractive mid-yellow gold, reflecting its age, this Riesling shows very ripe apricots with honey and petrol notes. Nearly dry with racy acidity and light body, the wine has superb concentration of flavours and creamy texture across the mid-palate. A well-balanced wine that would comfortably work with creamy white-mushroom risotto or a Jarlsberg soufflé with tarragon cream sauce.
DOMAINES SCHLUMBERGER RIESLING ALSACE GRAND CRU AOC KESSLER
Residual sugar level: 0.5g/l
Approx. retail price: £35
Vineyards around Guebwiller have been owned and worked by the Schlumberger family since 1810. This wine, from the sand-clay-sandstone soils facing southeast and at 300m-390m altitude, is pristine, with good depth of yellow fruits: golden apples, yellow plums and yellow pears. Dry and in a linear style, there is lively acidity and medium body with good flavour definition and a long stony finish. A delectable match for pork with stone fruits or light Chinese or Vietnamese dishes.
SCHLOSS VOLLRADS VDP GROSSES GEWÄCHS
Residual sugar level: 3.3g/l
Approx. retail price: £36
With a history spanning more than 1,000 years, Schloss Vollrads’ destiny is to produce spectacular wines. On the steep, south-facing slate slopes around Winkel-Oestrich, perfect Riesling grapes are grown. This wine exhibits white peach, apricot and orange nectar with a lime zest accent, mid-weight and good breadth framed by brisk acidity. Finely balanced with well-defined flavours and a sappy finish, this ‘gastronomic wine’ is an excellent match for ricotta-stuffed tortelloni with spinach, pine nuts and braised tomatoes.
LUIS FELIPE EDWARDS GRAN RESERVA RIESLING
Residual sugar level: 7g/l
Approx. retail price: £10
Viña Luis Felipe Edwards was created in 1976, and has developed to become the largest family-owned wine company in Chile, with 2,000 hectares. The ‘home’ vineyard is situated in the Fundo San Jose de Puquilay estate, located in the Colchagua Valley. White varieties, including this incredibly good-value Riesling, are grown in the cooler Leyda Valley along the Pacific coastline. Vegan-friendly, this ‘little’ wine packs great flavour, exhibiting gentle orchard fruits, apple, orange zest and a hint of acacia honey. A ‘crowd-pleaser ’ that can be consumed as an apéritif or with salads or other light foods.
SALOMON UNDHOF RIED KÖGL RIESLING
Residual sugar level: NA
Approx. retail price: £21
Loess terraces with a limestone base face south and overlook the Danube, giving a warm meso-climate. Salomon Undhof, a Krems-based family-owned winery, has a 230-year history, and was an early supporter of estate-bottling in Austria. From a single-vineyard site, Kögl, this pristine, vibrant wine exhibits green apple, greengage and tangerine aromas, leading to an off-dry palate with expressive flavours, bracing acidity, light body and good length with a mineral edge. A delightful wine in a racy style, it is an elegant match with sushi and sashimi or cream-sauced fish or poultry with, maybe, a touch of tarragon.
DOMAINE KIRRENBOURG RIESLING ALSACE AOC SCHLOSSBERG K
Residual sugar level: 5g/l
Approx. retail price: £40
Domaine Kirrenbourg is a small (10ha) vineyard in the village of Kientzheim. Cultivated biodynamically, the vines yield pure and intense wines, like this delightful example. Coming from granitic soils in the Kirrenbourg ‘lieu-dit’, the wine has ripe, almost tropical, fruit of apricot, orange and marmalade accented by lemon blossom and stony nuances.
SEA GLASS RIESLING
Residual sugar level: 2.6g/l
Approx. retail price: £15
From a blend of Monterey and Santa Barbara County fruit, this delightful Riesling exudes ‘sea’, even down to its Pacific-blue bottle. Pale lemon in hue, with apricot, yellow peach, melon and a touch of honeycomb, its medium-sweet palate radiates ripe fruit and seaside air. With crisp acidity and light body, it has lovely balance and plenty of interest. Recommended food pairings include Crab Louis, and jalapeño fish tacos with coriander cream.
THIRTY BENCH SMALL LOT RIESLING WILD CASK
Residual sugar level: 21g/l
Approx. retail price: £17
The Beamsville Bench is a narrow plateau sloping from the cliff of the Niagara Escarpment down towards Lake Ontario. The deep Lake Ontario and the height of the cliff provide air circulation to modify the otherwise cold climate. Thirty Bench Wine Makers Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask is an excellent example of what can be achieved here. Handicraft techniques have given a delicious wine. Medium-sweet with well-integrated bracing acidity, the wine shows very ripe apricot, melon, and white cherry.
About the competition
With high-quality judges and a unique sampling process, The Global Riesling Masters provides a chance for your wines to star, whether they hail from the great vineyards of Europe or lesser-known winemaking areas of the world.
The 2021 competition was judged over one day in December, employing experienced judges. The top wines were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their result, and those expressions that stood out as being outstanding in their field received the ultimate accolade – the title of Riesling Master. This report features the medal winners only.
Please visit the Global Masters website for more information, or, to enter future competitions – giving you the chance to feature online and in print – please call: +44 (0) 20 7803 2420 or email Sophie Raichura at: firstname.lastname@example.org