Riesling has always been one of my favourite grapes. I love the zippiness, minerality, and the razor-thin line that the best examples tread between residual sugar and acid. Riesling may also be the most versatile grape on the planet. It makes great bubble, and everything on the still wine spectrum from light and floral to unctuously rich and ripe. You also see the gambit of sweetness, from bone-dry to late-harvest or the lusciousness of icewine. It's also a grape that does an incredibly good job of expressing the terroir or regional nuances of where it's grown. Thankfully, both Ontario and BC are capable of making truly great Rieslings, whether we're talking Tantalus Vineyards in the Okanagan, or producers like Tawse and Charles Baker in Niagara.
Here are three of my picks for great value Rieslings from different regions in Canada and made in different styles:
Caroline Granger and Maggie Belcastro grow Riesling in the gravel and limestone soils of their 60-acre vineyard in Prince Edward County. This makes for fruity and floral fizz with green apple acidity, an undertone of minerality, and a little kick of sweetness. (11.7% alc & $19.95).
- Dry-ish - Eau Vivre 2013 Riesling
This Riesling is grown in the well-drained soils of the great Ladyhawke Vineyard in the Similkameen Valley, BC. It's not completely dry, but its high racy acidity masks any trace of the sweetness. This wine is all about freshness and vibrancy and it's a perfect patio sipper with notes of green apple, lime, and hints of crushed stones. (11.3% alc & $19).
- Icewine - Tawse 2013 Icewine Riesling
I'm going to preface this by saying that I'm typically not a fan of icewine. I find them too often all about sweetness and concentration, but without much in the way of complexity or intrigue. What makes Paul Pender's Riesling icewine from Niagara so delicious and drinkable, is the support of incredible acidity. The sweetness doesn't come across quite as cloying and it shows plenty of Riesling character: lemon and lime citrus, green apple, orange blossom, and spice. This will work wonders with dessert course pairings. (10% alc & $34.95 for 200mls).
Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.