The pale skinned fruits of the Riesling grapevine have been grown in and around Germany's Rhine Valley for centuries, and contributed much to the country's wine culture. Today, Riesling grapes are grown and processed in several countries around the world, where they are prized for their ability to grow well in colder climates, and their unique flavors and characteristics. Riesling grapes produce an impressive array of wines, including fine semi sweet and dessert wines, to excellent dry white wines and sparkling varieties, all which allow the grape to shine through as a premier example of an excellent white wine varietal. One of the things which makes Riesling such a special grape is the fact that it is highly 'terroir expressive', meaning that the features of the land it is grown on can come across well in the flavors and aromas in the wine. As such, it isn't unusual to find flavors of white stone, or smoky ash-like notes in a fine Riesling alongside the more usual orchard fruit flavors more commonly associated with good white wines.
In many ways, Hungary is an unlikely candidate for one of Europe's most ideal locations for wine production and viticulture. It enjoys long hot summers, balmy warm autumns and late frosts. Its soils are rich in minerals, fed by the mighty river Danube, and there is a wine culture here which stretches back to the Romans and which influenced the rest of the world. Today, Hungary's wines remain relatively unknown in the wider world, despite their importance in wine history. The sweet and viscous wines of the Tokaj region are a testament to the quality of Hungary's produce â€“ made using noble rot on the vines, they are intense, highly aromatic and quite unlike anything else on earth. Once the favorite of European royalty, Hungarian wines today are something of a well kept secret, enjoyed by serious wine lovers looking for something a little different.