It's always a pleasure to drink really good white wine and what a perfect day to taste Riesling from around the world. In fact, they say (though I don't know who they are) that only with experience will you will learn to appreciate white wine. Today we taste a combination of Rieslings, some dry and some semi-sweet. We begin with the dry, two samples: one from New York State and the other from Alsace, followed by three off-dry (semi sweet) from: New Zealand, Germany, and Ontario.

The key to really good Riesling is the balance of sweetness and acidity. Both are essential but when out of sync, one will overpower the other and seem rather obtuse on the palate. Riesling produces beautifully aromatic wines that pair with a multitude of food styles. The wine is considered the most versatile of all and will easily accommodate a range of food styles from white fish to Thai cuisine.

Our goal today is to determine what style both individually and as a group we prefer. The wines were served chilled one at a time and the group critiqued each selection in terms of personal preference.

The wines sampled are listed below in order of tasting:

2008 Chateau La Fayette Reneau - New York State, USA
2002 Pierre Sparr, Altenbourg - Alsace, France
2008 Spy Valley - Marlborough, New Zealand
2006 Studert Prüm, Spatlese - Mosel, Germany
2007 Henry of Pelham, Reserve - St. Catharines, Ontario

Specific information relating the the cost and source of each wine can be viewed in the members only area.

There are some beautifully balanced wines here today. In retrospect, when it comes to tasting red wine, a degree of concentration is involved: Burgundy and its terroir, Bordeaux and its complex blends, but the white wines are always a pleasure; still complex in many cases, but perhaps relaxing might be the right word. The wines sampled today, were all vastly different in terms of sweetness, body and texture but all reflected the varietal transparency of the Riesling grape. Riesling excels in cool climates; heat tampers with the magic formula making the wine flabby but our five examples are all grown in ideal locations and climates.

Our group tasted and ranked the wines in order of personal preference, the results are show below:

1 - 2006 Studert Prüm, Spatlese
2 - 2008 Spy Valley
3 - 2002 Pierre Sparr, Altenbourg

Tyler and Jacquie's 2006 Studert Prüm was tasted fourth and followed three very good wines but safe to say, the German selection shocked the group. Sweeter than the others, the '06 Spatlese was packed with intensity and flavour showing more honey than citrus on the nose and rich flavours on the palate. Next in line, from Marlborough, the '08 Spy Valley, a semi-sweet, new-world wine packed with aromas. It followed the Pierre Sparr, a wine that many of us felt was itself, very aromatic, but the Spy Valley exploded from the glass with jolts of green apple and grapefruit tasting balanced with wonderful minerality. Third was the 2002 Pierre Sparr from France's Alsace region. An older wine by comparison, showing golden yellow hues with lovely aromatics. On the palate, the Alsacian was softer and rounder than the other selections, perhaps losing its crisp edge with a few years in the cellar. A few in the group even detected an element of petrol in the older sample, which certainly invoked an interesting conversation.

It's the off-dry style that has prevailed here today with 82% of the group selecting a semi-sweet wine as their favourite.

As always, thank-you for participating in our tasting today. We look forward to August when we sabre Champagne on the patio at the Bistro.