2007 Canberra International Riesling Challenge

October 16, 2007

I would love to be in Canberra right now. The 2007 Canberra International Riesling Challenge is going to start tomorrow at the Hyatt Hotel. Now, that my tastebuds have been extensively exposed to German and especially Mosel Rieslings during the last two months travelling in Germany it would be extremely interesting to compare the different wines and styles on offer from the Old and the New World.


German Riesling grapes, fall 2007

The event is the biggest Riesling competition in the southern hemisphere. This year a record number of wines were registered, 482 wines in comparison to 458 last year and 328 in 2005. The bulk of the wines comes from Australia (293), 73 are from Germany, 58 from New Zealand and 45 from the USA but only three from France.

For more information please visit the website especially created for the event (www.rieslingchallenge.com).

As we know Riesling is all the vogue. Dr. Ernst Loosen from Bernkastel/Mosel (www.drloosen.com), one of the prime producers of Mosel Riesling was very modest and polite when he suggested earlier this year during the “Riesling Rendezvous” at Chateau Ste Michelle estate in Washington State (24-26 June) that “it is up to the New World to help raise the reputation of Riesling and create a Riesling renaissance”. In fact the wine consumers have done it all alone and the world is witnessing a boom in Riesling demand.

Talking Riesling is very important. Australia is a leading Riesling producer. Ever since the Pewsey Vale Riesling from the Eden Valley won a gold medal in London in 1854 Australia has been on the international Riesling map. Many wine regions in the Old World,with the exception of the Mosel of course, where elector Clemens Wenzeslaus had instructed its administrators in 1768 to grow only “white riesling”, did not grow much Riesling in those days.

I hope the event can also contribute to a better understanding of the confusing labelling of German Rieslings. Here more needs to be done to educate international consumers.

Rieslings from our own wine region, the Upper Goulburn Wine Region, have done well in Australian wine shows in recent years. At the 2005 Small Vignerons Awards a 2004 Barwite Riesling won the trophy for best Riesling and in 2006 this trophy was won by the 2005 Delatite Riesling. At the recent Alexandra Food and Wine Expo (please see my earlier blog entry) I had the opportunity to taste the 2005 Barwite Riesling, which showed beautiful floral characters and was a citrus bomb in my mouth. Of course I am curious how the UGWA member wineries will do at the event.