Italian Riesling

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Italian Riesling

Italian Riesling? It happens. Italian Riesling was going to be my subject matter today regardless of how the bottle I finally sourced from Italian Ebay turned out (Martilde Gelo Riesling). It’s not so easy to find and there is a very good reason for this! Riesling is grown successfully in many wine growing regions. Of course, Germany and Alsace but also New Zealand, Australia and the USA are producing highly acclaimed Riesling. In Italy the production is tiny with just a handful of vineyards in the northern parts of the country having a bash at it.

I’ve been on a personal Riesling bender for the past month and so wanted nothing more than last nights bottle of Italian Riesling to be every bit as good as those from NZ, Aus and the US. If you’ve been reading wine90 over the past 4 weeks you’ll have noticed I took a trip to the Rheingau and my time there firmly cemented my adore of German Riesling. Italian Riesling would have been the perfect marriage, my favourite white grape (currently) and my favourite wine growing country, Italy. Sadly, twas not to be.

Everything about this wine was interesting. Firstly, the producers have named this wine after their dog and have a drawing of said pooch on the label which immediately makes me happy. Secondly, they are coming out of Lombardy which I think I’ve mentioned twice on the blog so that excited me. Thirdly, this was an Italian Riesling and lastly, they produce tiny quantities so it appealed to my culty, nerdy, obsessional need to find unique wines and bargains.

Then I opened it and much like Pandora, soon wished I had not. This isn’t to say all Italian Riesling is bad. I am working on the basis of this one bottle and a small tasting history of a handful of other producers but in my experience Italian Rieslings are among the dullest Rieslings out there. There’s really no need for them. When the rest of the world does it so well and we’re struggling to produce something outside of Gotham (as the Italians call Milan) perhaps it’s time to bin the idea and just refocus on our own fantastic whites.

Martilde Gelo Riesling 2006PASS – €8
Bright yellow colour in the glass, decent nose, stone fruits and floral notes. Low acidity on the palate, fruit disappears and a flabby texture to the wine let it down, mid bodied with a fair finish. 79 Points

I don’t want to be too hard on this wine, it came from Ebay so really we don’t know how well the wine has been stored but I wasn’t getting any impression that the wine was faulty. The 2006 Lombardy vintage was hardly a sparkler either and I have heard good things about this producer in the past, hence, why I bought the wine in the first place. I will advise you though, to just skip Italian Riesling, there is better value Riesling out there and by far better quality. Riesling is high acidity, it’s not that this wine is so bad, just that it doesn’t tick the Riesling boxes.

Where can I buy this wine?
Are you some kind of glutton for punishment? My searches for this wine online have turned up fruitless anyway. Much like the wine.

Leave a comment
If you named your wine after your pet would it sell and what varietal would it be?
My wine would be called Bambi, would be a zesty Zinfandel and would be deer. Guffaw. You?

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20 Comments Add yours

  1. Lorenzo says:

    have you tried the ‘Ibisco Bianco’ from our good friends at Cantina Zaccagnini?.. (links to pdf technical card) good stuff!

  2. Richard A. says:

    I tasted this wine in February and liked it very much. I thought it had good acidity and plenty of fruit. And most of the others I was with enjoyed the wine as well. The wine is available in Massachusetts, for $12.99.

  3. Ciao LorenzoYes I have, we used to sell it for a while there but havent got the new vintage in.Richard – Yes, this is exactly what I heard and exactly why I was so keen to try the wine. Perhaps I just got something very duff, or something else entirely. It seems very strange for everyone to recommend something to me and then it turn out to be so terribly uninspiring.

  4. Emily V says:

    You seem to have some bad luck lately as there are some ok italian rieslings for sale. Have you found a better lagrein yet 😉We had a stunning bottle from Hofstatter that I really think you’d enjoy “Hofstatter Steinrafler”

  5. The Prosecco Lady says:

    I have never tried Italian Riesling therefore my only contribution today is that a wine based on my pooch would be called Titi and it’d be a delicious Eiswein.

  6. Sebastian says:

    Is not easy to talk about riesling and Italy because many things depend. I think this grape is improving here and no one should give up with this but maybe with the world becoming hotter we should.Italian whites are better in Fiano and others but the riesling can be made.

  7. Serg says:

    Sarah (!) You are supposed to chamption our wines of Italy. Riesling will find a new home of the banks of Po you can count on this.

  8. Okay Okay!Lordy! Recommend some other Italian Rieslings then and lets see what we have.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never been impressed by Italian Riesling so can’t recommend any.My dogs called Skipchip, he’d be a Cabernet Sauvignon

  10. James Lichfield says:

    Varja Rieslinds from Piemonte are worth a look.

  11. futronic says:

    Riesling is a pet project for a couple Langhe producers. Vajra as was mentioned, but also Ceretto’s Arbarei. Not bad at all. The quality has been improving vintage over vintage.I’ve got a list of a couple other Italian Rieslings at home and I’ll try to track them down.

  12. Arcoi says:

    It’s strange that Piedmont is experimenting with Riesling -surely the Alto Adige, with some top level Gewustraminer already there, would be the place to try Riesling.I know of 1 producer in the Alto Adige but as you point out there are very few Italian vintners producing this wine.

  13. I would be keen to try the Ceretto and Varja attempts. Time to have a look at wine-searcher.

  14. Lorenzo says:

    went to winex here in cape town last night. was a local riesling stand there. it was -awesome-. check out their site here:

  15. futronic says:

    Maybe James is talking about a different producer, but I was definitely talking about G.D. Vajra, not Varja. Note that for the Ceretto, there’s no entry in CellarTracker for some reason. It’s definitely the Langhe Bianco Arbarei and it’s 100% Riesling.

  16. Sally says:

    I have not tried any Italian Riesling nor have I seen or sold any. I think the production must be limited.

  17. pigpen says:

    …skip the vajra & head to the north east for better examples. the 2007 vajra is perfumed but lean with hard acid & a finish reminiscent of vodka

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  19. Anonymous says:

    italian riesling isnt riesling. its welschriesling.

  20. Bratty says:

    Had a lovely Harvest Reisling by Chateau St Michelle last night – and it was so good I raced to Safeway after work and purchased another bottle for $5.99 for tonight! Yum!

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