Although Chardonnay is the best known wine grape in the world and Sauvignon Blanc is the next up and coming grape, Riesling is perhaps the grape which wine connoisseurs appreciate the most.
Riesling is often misunderstood by the average wine drinker who only thinks the grape can produce sweet wines. This is extremely unfortunate because the grape, perhaps more then any other is able to take the characteristics of the vineyard in which it grows. Although we can’t even go so far as making a statement about the grapes flavor profile, it does often take a minerality component from the soil in which it is planted.
Riesling gains it highest point in the Mosel region of Germany. Named for the river which winds through the region, it is one of the coolest growing climates in the world. That aspect has lead to the wine keeping such a high amount of acidity and a constant need for ripeness. The soil is largely shale which more then any other mineral keeps sunlight and warmness for some time after the sun goes down. To that point German vintners will pick up each and every piece of shale that falls off and replace it. Even the reflection off the water is valued for the ripeness it can help the fruit attain.
The French also make Riesling, mainly in the region directly next to Germany. Interestingly, despite their continued complaints about American and other new world Cabernet Sauvignon being too full bodied and having too high of alcohol, when it comes to Riesling that is a perfect description of French wine.
Both regions produce quality wine and Riesling is also produced into a good wine in the United States, Canada and also Australia.