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Riesling: old varietal, new fashion

October 15, 2012 by María Elena Graffigna | in Latest news, News

In the past years, Riesling has shown resurgence in international markets, something unthinkable a few decades ago. Although it is not among the hottest varietal wines, this variety has experienced one of the highest consumption growth rates.

Riesling is a variety native to Germany, where nowadays there is the most extensive area cultivated with it. Both German wines and Rieslings are regarded by international markets as sweet, cheap and not very complex wines.

Nonetheless, it is a very noble variety that gives birth to high-quality grapes. Its acidity level sources fresh wines suitable for a long storage.

However, how did a variety with image problems achieve such an international success? To a large extent, this phenomenon is attributable to the strategy developed by the German Wine Institute that consists of positioning German wines into the top markets, like United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Japan. The main core of the strategy is based on Riesling as the country’s signature grape variety.  It was also aimed at expanding the range of styles to offer consumers all its variants, from the driest examples with good acidity, to very sweet wines, including sparklings, ice wines, etc.

The program was started in 1990s, and it is reaping the reward today. The highest growth rates of Riesling consumption have been seen since 2005, along with the intensification of the promotional strategies, starting in 2004 by “Week of Riesling”. The initiative is carried out during June, in summer, looking for spotlighting the possibilities to pair with Riesling. Since 2011, this strategy was intensified by running the “31 days of German Riesling” program during July in restaurants throughout the United States. By means of it, supporting premises commit themselves to serve at least two German Rieslings in the month. In 2012, this campaign was also developed in the United Kingdom and Canada, with a great success.

Beyond the enormous strategic efforts of the German Wine Institute, we should not forget that trends of new wine consumers have given this varietal a significant boost. Low alcohol levels, assorted aromas, greater sweetness, and balanced acidity are all features highly appreciated by younger consumers and those from new consuming countries.

The cultivation of this variety has been expanding throughout the wine world, and today all wine-exporting countries produce their own Riesling with different characteristics, being New Zealand one of the most outstanding, having expanded significantly its vineyards intended for this grape variety.

Translation: Carolina Lucesole

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