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What's a good riesling?

I am a newbie to the whole wine deal. I've enjoyed some rieslings. and was wondering what is a good one to buy out there that is under $30? I want something not very dry, light, refreshing and lightly sweetened.


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  1. I like Gunderloch Riesling Kabinett Baptiste'05 runs about $20, Leitz Riesling Dragon Stone '05 runs about $16. My taste in wine is on the sweet side, these are definately not dry.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ChinoWayne

      Second the Gunderloch. Another good option (that costs about $12-$15 in CA) is the Mönchhof estate riesling.

      I also like Van Volxem and Donnhoff although the latter offers maybe one or two bottles in your price range.

    2. If you ask me, there's great riesling all over the world... Germany, France, Australia, Austria, California, Washington... IMO it produces more good wines in more places around the globe than any other grape, including chardonnay and cabernet.....

      But alot of purists are probably going to focus strictly on Germany and Alsace...

      Probably the single-best place to start is the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region of germany.... Here's a good overview of the major wine regions of Germany:

      There are so many tremendous vineyards and wineries in this region, many of the vineyards dating back hundreds of years... the key is to focus on great VINTAGE YEARS. The "blockbuster" vintages of the past decade would include 2005, 2004, and 2001.

      Just go to a well-stocked wine shop and look for Mosel wines from those years and you're not going to be disappointed... ask for the best bottles they have in your price range and "under $30" you'll have some incredible wines. I'd also rec. buying 1 bottle each of Kabinett, Spatlese, and Auslese to familiarize yourself with these different ripeness levels.

      Start there... if you can read a German wine label you can read any wine label in the world.... then branch out and try an Alsatian, a Californian, etc. etc.... Always focus on great regions and vintage years and riesling will prove to be one of the most consistent wines out there, IMO.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Chicago Mike

        I don't know about the availability in the SF area, but I would also recommend rieslings from Ontario, and British Columbia. It is probably our most consistantly successful grape type. I think that to begin, you're better off trying German and Alsatian rieslings, to get a good sense of that the 'classical' style is, but then move on to the Ont and BC ones. We are evolving a very interesting, unique style here. And, except for the (very expensive) Icewines, generally very affordable and versatile food matches.

        1. re: hungry_pangolin

          The best Ontario (Niagara) ice wines I've had have been Vidal, not Riesling.

          Next time I'm in Toronto or Vancouver I'll have to seek out some of the non-ice-wine Rieslings.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Just to let you know, because of our idiotic internal trade barriers in Canada, it is unlikely that you'll find the best Ontario rieslings in Vancouver, or the best BC ones in Toronto. Sad case, truly. Anyway, put up a thread when your trip is around the corner, and we can discuss different wineries and styles.

            As to icewines, I think that Vidal is best as an icewine, rather than as a table wine (for which it's OK, but never great). The best icewine I've had was riesling (11 yr old Cave Spring), but I guess chacun son glace.


        2. re: Chicago Mike

          To my taste, only Germany and Alsace make great Riesling.

          I've had some nice dry quaffers from New Zealand.

          Best Riesling I've had from the US is from Long Island.

          Topic from last year on California Riesling:


          1. re: Chicago Mike

            The 2005 Germans I've encountered have been better than the 2004. Also, make sure the German bottle says "Qualitätswein Mit Prädikat"

          2. I agree with Mike (OMG! ;-p)...

            Start in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. Get a Kabinett and/or Spatlese. I don't know where you live or what prices are like around there. But my favorite producer from the region is Willi Schaefer. Other ones to look out for are JJ Christoffel and JJ Prum. Not quite as good, but less expensive and still excellent is Dr. Losen. Also, it is not technically from the Mosel because of German laws, but in that spirit, I really like A.J. Adam as well.

            For around $16 I totally agree with the Leitz Dragonstone suggestion. (From the Reingau). And for even less, the Dr. L (second label of Dr. Losen) is always nice.

            1. I don't know where you live, but there are literally hundreds -- if not thousands -- of wines under $30 (most well under $20!) that will EXACTLY fit your wishes . . . ChicagoMike is exactly right when he cites, "Germany, France, Australia, Austria, California, Washington" -- to that I would add New Zealand and Canada. I've even had good Rieslings from New York State, Italy, Hungary and elsewhere, but let's not push things too far . . . .

              AGAIN, I do not know where you live -- but my only "change" to ChicagoMike's excellent post would be to suggest that you start with that, with where you live. If, for example, you live in California, start there -- you'll probably find a better selection of CA Rieslings, and more easily, than you would (for example) Alsatian examples. Ditto if you live in Washington State. If you live on the East Coast, you'll find more German wines . . . .

              REGARDLESS of where (what region) you start with, NOTHING is more important than starting with a great wine merchant -- a place with an excellent selection and knowledgable staff. They'll be able to help you far more than anyone here in terms of SPECIFIC recommendations.

              1. You're in the San Francisco area? Go to K&L, Arlequin, Vintage Berkeley, Wine Mine, or Farmstead Cheeses & Wines and ask for advice.

                Cost Plus in Oakland often has very good values on German Rieslings for under $10.

                Get on the Age of Riesling mailing list and go to their tastings.

                Alsatian Rieslings are usually bone-dry, and those that aren't are late-harvest dessert wines.

                1. These are all good suggestions but before we are go too far a field I’d like to ask the OP: Are you looking to become more knowledgeable about Riesling or do you just want some suggestions that will please your present tastes as described above?


                  1. Chateau St. Michelle has their "Eroica" reisling, which is my favorite if I were going to venture into reislings for a night! It's usually between 18 - 22 dollars.
                    Their standard reisling is delicious too and is under 10 dollars.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: wino22

                      The Chateau Ste. Michelle-Dr. Loosen Riesling Columbia Valley Eroica (to give it its full name) that wino22 recommends is an excellent riesling, year in and year out, is easily available, and cost under $25.

                      Personally, I think Johannishof is one of the best producers of Rieslings at a reasonable price. I especially like their Rheingau Johannisbergs (they make several levels of dryness in this line) for the price you are discussing.

                      If you want some Austrian ones, Schloss Gobelsburg is a good producer at the price range you are interested in.

                      1. re: dinwiddie

                        I've been very impressed with Rieslings from St. Urbans-Hofs winery, especially from a value perspective. They make a range of rieslings (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region--classic!)

                        1. re: anewton

                          Yes! I totally agree! I had their 2005 spatlese recently and found it absolutely delightful. Beautiful floral and tropical fruit nose, very complex and well balance. Taste more like an Auslese. For $24, I think its a steal. My other favourites are the late harvests of Gunderloch. Their 'gold cap' auslese Nacheheimer Rothenberg in great years such as 2001,3,5 are all amazing!!

                        2. re: dinwiddie

                          My favorite producer is JJ Prum, but I like DR. Loosen. Both are mosel valley producers and make really great well balanced rieslings. hard to go wrong with either and they will cellar.

                          1. re: chrisinroch

                            These are two of the greatest producers in Germany. One caution though, JJ Prum uses quite a bit of sulphur when bottling. The sulphur helps the wines live forever ( the 71s and 76s are still incredible) but it can be a bit pungent when the wines are young.

                          2. re: dinwiddie

                            I have to disagree with those who like Eroica. I think it is ok, but there is better stuff out there at the same price from Germany, Alsace, and Austria.

                            The Single Berry Select, on the other hand... ;-)

                            1. re: whiner

                              I agree, the bottle i had just seemed to lack something. Some acidity maybe?? Its been a long time since I tasted it. It was good, but not what i had hoped.

                              1. re: whiner

                                I've always thought that the "charm" of Eroica is that it came from the U.S. In other words, a Riesling *that* good that wasn't European . . . but -- yes, absolutely! -- there are much betterr wines from Alsace, Germany and Austria . . . they just aren't from here . . . .

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  Have to agree with this. Eroica is "suprisingly good for a domestic riesling" but serioulsy outclassed by dozens of German and Alsace offerings.

                                  Best domestic I have found is also from Washington and is also made by a great German winemaker. It is the Long Shadows Poet's Leap made by Armin Diel. Price is about the same as Eroica.

                                  1. re: jock

                                    Actually, my favorite domestic non-dessert Riesling is the Dr. Konstantin Frank Reserve from the Finger Lakes region of New York.

                                    But my favorite domestic Riesling is the Eroica Single Berry Select narrowly beating out the Navarro White Riesling Cluster Select Late Harvest. Both of those are truly world-class wines, although the Eroica is rediculously expensive ($200/half bottle).

                            2. Look for minerality in good Riesling, any of them. That is what gives structure to the sugar, and for that, mostly German wines excel. Also, secondary flavors from mint to petrol to guavas. The rieslings I like have an aftertaste that lasts quite awhile. E. Shoenlieber from Nahe Valley makes georgeous wine, but not cheap.

                              1. Got lots of respect for the posters' deep knowledge and good advice. I think you are missing some truly good US rieslings though. I think for the past 10 years Michigan has been producine some of the best rieslings in the US. Especially the dry Alsacian style wines which I think hold up well alongside good wines from France and Germany.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: davebough

                                  Interesting. Never seen a bottle here in California. wine-searcher.com only finds it for sale in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.

                                  As I noted above they make some good Riesling in Long Island.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Chateau Grand Traverse has made sporadic appearances on California shelves.


                                2. If you live in the Bay Area, K&L can offer some good advice but Dee Vine Wines is ground zero for German riesling in the area. They're supposed to offer tastings about once a month Go to one of those. One of those tastings will give you a better sense than a thousand Chowhound posts.

                                  1. Right around $30 is a GREAT Riesling from Schafer-Frohlich, a 2004 Spatlese Bockenhauer Felseneck imported by Rudi Wiest. Tremendous. I also like most of the offerings from St. Urbans Hof.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: TonyO

                                      Agree with St. Urbans Hof. Had a gorgeous 2005 Kabinett Piersporter Goldtrofchen yesterday. Can$24 and worth every cent.Taste more like a Spatlese.

                                    2. I just had a Yalumba dry riesling tonight. Just beautiful. Great dreamsicle nose, nice semi dry style...not like an alsatian. Its about $12 and really nice.

                                      1. I have found many Reislings I like, my favorite is Covey Run from the Yakima Valley in Washington state. I find it around the KC area for under $15.00. I consider myself a newbie to wine also as I prefer many varieties of micro-brew beer to wine.