Riesling grapes are very rarely blended with others in the development of wines, and for good reason. These pale grapes which originated in the cool Rhine Valley of Germany are notable for their 'transparency' of flavor, which allows the characteristics of their terroir to shine through in wonderful ways. The result of this is a wine which carries a wide range of interesting flavors quite unlike those found in other white wines, finished off with the distinctively floral perfume Riesling supplies so well. Many wineries in Germany and elsewhere tend to harvest their Riesling grapes very late â€“ often as late as January â€“ in order to make the most of their natural sweetness. Other methods, such as encouraging the noble rot fungus, help the Riesling grape varietal present some truly unique and exciting flavors in the glass, and the variety of wines this varietal can produce mean it is one of the finest and most interesting available anywhere.
Hungary was once considered one of the world's leading wine countries, with their distinctive and flavorful wines being the favorites of Europe's royal families until the early 20th century and the fall of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The Soviet Union all but obliterated Hungary's wine traditions, replacing their unique produce with the sweet and characterless red wines the country is still often associated with, yet thankfully, the past twenty five years has seen an impressive return to form. All over the historic Tokaj region, craftsmen and master vintners are using the grape varietals which thrive on the hillsides in the hot summers and long autumns to once again produce the amazingly flavored Tokaji wines â€“ a wine made by allowing the grapes to wither on the vine, thus concentrating the sugars and producing remarkable flavors and aromas of marzipan, dried fruits, pear and candied peel.