There is a faction of wine geeks who insist with maniacal intensity that Riesling is the greatest of all wine varieties. They may or may not be right but plantings are in decline in South Africa, amounting to 189ha at the end of 2011 down from 346ha ten years ago. Of course there was the longstanding absurdity which saw Crouchen Blanc labeled as “Riesling” and the great German grape forced to carry the prefix of either “Rhine” or “Weisser” which must have created confusion in the market place, but could it be possible that local versions of the variety simply aren’t much cop?
I have to confess that I’m typically underwhelmed by South African Riesling but the 2006 from Klein Constantia last night was pretty smart. Notes of lime and lemon as well as the vaguest hint of terpene (frustratingly difficult to describe but not at all petrol). Great fruit concentration and really zesty acidity. Curiously our bottle was labeled simply as “Riesling” even though the legislation which allowed no prefix only came into effect in 2010. Score: 16/20.