The white grape variety probably comes from Germany. There are more than 150 synonyms that testify to its great age and worldwide distribution in almost all winegrowing countries. Historically important or are Risling(Bulgaria); Edler Riesling, Gelber Riesling, Gräfenberger, Hochheimer, Johannisberger, Kleinriesling, Klingelberger, Rissling, Rüsseling, Weißer Riesling(Germany); Raisin du Rhin, Riesling Rhénan(France); Riesling Renano(Italy); Rajinski Riesling (former Yugoslavia); Rizling Rajnski(Croatia); Rislinoc(Moldavia); Rheinriesling, Ritzling (also name of a reed), White Riesling(Austria); Johannisberg, Johannisberg Riesling, Petit Rhin(Switzerland); Rizling Rýnsky(Slovakia); Renski Rizling(Slovenia); Lipka, Ryzlink Rýnský, Starovetski(Czech Republic); Beyaz Riesling(Turkey); Рислінг, Rislinok(Ukraine); Fehér Rajnai, Rajnai Rizling(Hungary); Rhine Riesling, White Riesling(California-USA)
According to DNA analyses carried out by the Austrian biologist Dr. Ferdinand Regner in 1998, Riesling is the result of a presumably natural cross between (Vitis vinifera sylvestris x Traminer) and white hay(Gouais Blanc). From the wild vine came the small berries and the frost-hardness, from the Traminer the spicy notes and the Heunisch brought late maturity, robustness and acidity potential. It should be noted that although Gouais Blanc, the involvement of wild vine and Traminer is not guaranteed. According to DNA analyses, the rare variety Red Riesling is not a precursor, but a mutation of White Riesling and the variety Blue Riesling is descended from Traminer. Due to morphological similarities, White Riesling must not be confused with the Crouchen, Menu Pineau, Pedro Ximénez, Räuschling or Sauvignonasse varieties. There is no genetic relation to the Welschriesling (Graševina), but its origin is unknown. The prestigious name Riesling has often been used worldwide in a misleading and sometimes abusive manner:
Due to its excellent qualities, the variety has been used for about 200 new varieties. Especially the three institutes Geilweilerhof (Pfalz), Geisenheim (Rheingau) and Weinsberg (Württemberg) were active. The most important offspring are Alb de Yaloven, Aris, Arnsburger, Aromriesling, Augustriesling, Aurelius, Bacchus, Bouquetriesling, Breidecker, Comtessa, Dalkauer, Dalmasso 12-40, Diamond Muscat, Danube Riesling, Dr. Deckerrebe, Edelmuskat, Ehrenfelser, Elbriesling, Emerald Riesling, Feinmuskat, Feinriesling, Firnriesling, Frühriesling, Goldriesling (1), Grando, Gyöngyrizling, Hibernal, Hölder, Johanniter, Jo Rizling, Kerner, Klosterneuburg 44-8, Kocsis Zsuzsa, Lafayette, Louisette, Manzoni Bianco, Marienriesling, Merzling, Misket Varnenski, Morava, Müller-Thurgau, Multaner, Muscat de la Republique, Muscat Dore de Semis, Muscat Flower, Muscat Bouquet, Muscat scent, Muscat Riesling, Naumburg 5016-37, Negritienok, Noblessa, Noria, Optima, Osiris, Oraniensteiner, Osteiner, Panonia, Président Carnot, Primera, Prinzipal, Quanbai, Quanyu B, Rabaner, Rieslaner, Rieslina, Riesliner, Riesling Bulgarski, Riesling Forte, Riesling Lion, Riesling Magaracha, Romeo, Rotberger, Ruling, Sauvignon Cita, Sauvignon Gryn, Sauvignon Sary, Scheurebe, Siegfriedrebe, Therona Riesling, Thurling, Witberger and Zähringer
Probably the Riesling comes from the Rhine Valley. It was first mentioned in the middle of the 15th century. In a document from the year 1435 in Rüsselheim (Frankfurt) an invoice item for Riesling vines appears. Another document mentions a "Rüsseling" in Alsace in 1348. However, it is not clear whether this is the Riesling. The well-known German botanist Hieronymus Bock (1498-1554) writes in his "Kreütter Buch" of the 1546 edition that "Rissling grow on the Mosel/Rhine and in Wormbs". However, the origin is also claimed by winegrowers of the Austrian Wachau, because there is a vineyard called Ritzling, which was mentioned in a document in the 13th century. But of course this is no proof.
The variety was probably very often found together with other Heunisch/Traminer descendants like Elbling, Fütterer and Räuschling in the mixed set in the vineyard. It was only relatively late, from the 19th century onwards, that it was planted in pure sets. An exception was Fürstabt von Fulda, who already in 1716 had exclusively Riesling planted on the Johannisberg, which he had just acquired. But the variety was long disputed. In a document from 1747 it is reported: "In the Rhingau they have: Gutedel and Elbling as the best variety, Heinisch as the middle variety and Rußling as the worst of the grapes" This can also be explained by the officially decreed early harvest dates that were customary at the time. The approximately three-hundred-year climate phase of the Little Ice Age was simply not warm enough for a late harvest, because one had to fear early night frosts. The story of the late-harvest rider from 1775 probably also ensured that the harvest was postponed from mid/end September to the beginning of November. With increasing warming from the middle of the 19th century onwards, Riesling became more and more popular and is now one of the very best in the world - the Cépages nobles. Due to the longevity and finesse of the wines, it is also called "white Cabernet Sauvignon".
The late ripening vine is resistant to frost and downy mildew and only slightly susceptible to powdery mildew and botrytis. It thrives particularly well in relatively cool growing areas above slate and primary rock on sunny steep slopes. The wines are generally characterised by a harmonious taste with high acidity and extract, but rather moderate alcohol content, as well as diverse, fruity aromas of apples, apricots, grapefruit, passion fruit, peaches, roses and lemons. In the context of a wine-tasting, they are often described as steely, racy and mineral. However, it depends on the soil conditions, which of these are pronounced. The Riesling is said to be able to express the character of a soil(terroir) particularly well. With age, an almond and also the petroltone develop, an aroma appreciated by fans. The greenish-yellow colour changes to a shimmering golden tone. Riesling wines generally have a potentially extreme shelf life, Prädikat wines last 20, 30, 40 years and longer. A particularly impressive example is a 421-year-old Würzburg Stein, which was still edible (see also under oldest wines).
As the most common variety in Germany, it covered a total of 22,580 hectares in 2010. The cultivation areas with the largest share are Moselle with one third of the total area, as well as Rheingau and Middle Rhine. However, the variety is represented in all 13 growing areas. Ideal conditions can be found on the Moselle, where, according to many experts, the best Rieslings are found. The importance is also reflected in the VDP classification model. The association Pro Riesling (Mosel) is successfully trying to promote the vine. The designation Klingelberger is used for special Riesling clones, especially in Baden in the Ortenau area, where it has a special meaning.
There are also areas under cultivation in Bulgaria (1,170 ha), England (1 ha), France, especially Alsace (3,513 ha), Greece (2 ha), Israel, Italy (446 ha), Kazakhstan (111 ha), Croatia (676 ha), Luxembourg (121 ha), Moldova (1.343 ha), Austria (1,863 ha), Portugal (18 ha), Russia (882 ha), Switzerland (12 ha), Slovakia (605 ha), Slovenia (676 ha), Spain (161 ha), Czech Republic (1,181 ha), Turkey (3 ha), Ukraine (2,702 ha) and Hungary (1,304 ha).
Overseas areas are cultivated in Argentina (89 ha), Australia (4,114 ha), Brazil (9 ha), Chile (367 ha), China (437 ha), Japan (11 ha), Canada (871 ha), New Zealand (979 ha), South Africa (211 ha) and Uruguay (15 ha). In the United States, this is a total of 4,852 ha in the states of California (1,550 ha), Michigan, New York (276 ha), Oregon (314 ha) and Washington (2,558 h). The International Riesling Foundation was established in San Francisco (California) in 2007. In 2010, the variety occupied a total of 49,997 hectares of vineyards with an increasing tendency (in 2000 it was 43,166 hectares). It is ranked 18th in the worldwide grape variety ranking.
Pictures: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)