It’s difficult to think of either Californian wine or New-World wine in general without automatically thinking about Robert Mondavi. Not only are the Mondavi wines some of the most important products to originate from California, but the winery’s story is part of the modern history of wine: few wineries in the New World have had such a sustainable influence on viticulture as this Napa-based producer.
However, it is not necessarily the Napa Valley wines that people associate with this brand but rather the mass-produced wines from other Californian regions: Twin Oaks, Private Selection and Woodbridge are three entry-level sub-brands that operate in the European marketplace and, whereas the wines offer decent quality for a fair price, they are perhaps better suited to everyday drinking rather than belonging to the category of "fine wine".
In stark contrast to these wines are those produced in the company’s home in Oakville, Napa Valley. Not only are they some of the world’s best-known bottles but also a major cornerstone in international wine altogether. Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate the winery’s parcels of land and the jewel in the crown of these vineyards is the to Kalon site, shared by Robert Mondavi, its Rothschild-Partner-Project Opus One and grape-grower Andy Beckstoffer. Perhaps one of California’s most important and indeed finest vineyards, it is a Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard, with a few rows of Sauvignon Blanc vines. The winery is also in possession of some of the finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs vineyards in the neighbouring region of Carneros – their closer proximity to the Bay and the Pacific climates serve as prime growing conditions for Burgundy varietals.
However, it is Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc that makes Robert Mondavi the relevant winery it is today: some of the USA’s finest and most-famous Cabernets and Sauvignons leave the cellars here.
The winery’s relationship with Sauvignon Blanc is unique and also one of the key reasons that the varietal is so widely-planted in New Zealand’s Marlborough: amongst others, it was Robert Mondavi who persuaded the Spence brothers to plant and market the grape on New Zealand’s first Sauvignon-Blanc winery (these days trading under the name of Matua). He also rebranded Sauvignon Blanc in the States: whereas the varietal mainly celebrates good press and favourable reviews in Europe, stateside it was popularly considered as cheap, relatively-uninteresting wine. With a rebranding to Fumé Blanc, the wines were a success: Fumé Blanc is synonymous with the Mondavi brand and the term is still used by the winery and several other producers in California, the rest of the New World and even in Europe.
Perhaps however, the estate is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, as are most of the large and famous Napa producers. From its Napa winery, Mondavi create a series of wines based on this varietal: a general Napa Valley wine, a Stag’s Leap District-sourced wine, an Oakville-sourced wine and the flagship Reserve to Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fumé Blanc 2014
This Sauvignon, with a minimal amount of Sémillon, is a luscious and fruity take on this popular style. Rather than the gooseberry and stone-fruit domination that is so often the case with New-World Sauvignon, the wine takes on a creamier feel with plenty of wood in the background. The fruit structure is made up of silky grapefruit (without the bitterness) and plenty of tropical fruit: mango,papaya and banana with a wonderful, aromatic herb finish made up of a touch of vanilla, a dash of cloves, plenty of almonds and a touch of white pepper.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
The entry-level Napa Cabernet is a wine that drinks well both young and after a few years in the bottle. With a rich uptake: Cassis, blackcurrant and plenty of red plum, the wine impresses with an impressive volume. With a sense of freshly-ground coffee and a light peppering of festive spices, the tannins are still firmly in place but the wine is still remarkably open.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
The 2013 Entry-Level Napa Cabernet starts in very much the same way: Cassis, red plum and blackcurrant but carries a youthful sense of forest fruit in there as well: blueberry, wild strawberry and even a dash of cranberry slips into the body. The wine is fuller in general with a riper feel: the fruit is thicker and yet doesn’t overwhelm. The wine is finished-off with big tannins that hint at a long lifetime. On the finish is espresso, finest tobacco and a touch of leather. This wine is undoubtedly a value-for-money masterpiece in a region otherwise well-known for hefty price tags.
Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Interesting in the Oakville wine are the different fruit phases: not only are Cassis-notes, Blackcurrants and black cherries present here but they each occupy a brief spell in the wine’s attack. With a creamy-confectionary feel on the body and a decent amount of espresso, the finish is slightly peppery and wonderfully round – whereas this wine is likely to remain in the drinking window for a decade still, it is easily approachable now.
Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Again, the approachability of such a young Napa Cabernet is what impresses most about this wine right now. Not only are you treated to the full array of black and red berries in the other wines but they are still in the primary fruit phase lending the wine a fullness and a slightly sweet sensation that leads into a composed and rather fragile body. The finish is toastier than the 2010 and the overall feel is slightly more compact than the less-expensive Napa Valley wine.
Robert Mondavi Reserve to Kalon Vineyard 2012
The 2012 To Kalon is far more composed than the other Cabernets in this list. Its fruit is present and yet ever-so-slightly closed: this is a wine intended for later on. A present acidic backbone runs through the wine, pairing excellently with the sharper notes of the cherry and blackcurrant in the initial fruit. With stable tannins on the finish, the wine expresses a reserved power – however, despite a general closed feel, it is still approachable – in stark contrast to other premium Cabernets from other parts of the world at this young age. I am looking forward to trying this wine in the future.
Finding these wines where you live
The birthplace of the illustrious Spätlese, Germany’s culinary capital and the spiritual home of Riesling, the Rheingau already has a few feathers in its cap. Many of those feathers might have come from the VDP eagle which soars over the Rheingau more often than it does in any other German production region: nowhere do you find the VDP logo as often as you do in the Rheingau.
The region might represent only a tiny part of German viticulture when it comes to the amount of wine produced but it is one of the country’s most important production regions, on a par with Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, when it comes to the importance of the wine that is made there. Whereas the Mosel is world famous for its sweet wines, it's the Rheingau’s dry wines that are some of the finest white wines in the world.
I remember reading a discussion about how the Rheingau region had lost its flair: this was at the time when the new VDP classification came into force (2012): all of a sudden huge Mosel names started releasing dry wines grown on well-known vineyards with the GG logo on the label. This, alongside the rise of Rheinhessen and the omnipresence of the Pfalz and Nahe, put the Rheingau into the shadows a little. Rheingau winemakers openly discussed the problems the region had: too traditionalist, too old-fashioned, not-attractive enough to new drinkers – plans were put into place, changes were made and I am pleased to be able to present a reinvented Rheingau: a region bursting with youthful innovation and home to a hundred new styles of wine.
One of the most exciting wines to emerge from the region in recent years is Schloss Johannisberg’s Weisslack – I’m referring to a wine that costs about 12€. Important though is the producer and their relevance in the region: Schloss Johannisberg is one of Germany’s most famous wineries: the inventor of the Spätlese and the world’s oldest Riesling winery – the fact that Schloss Johannisberg realised a change was needed is proof enough that this region required a refit. Its entry-level Gelblack is a fabulous wine: a typical old-world style Rheingau dry Riesling and, whilst this is appealing to a wine drinker, it often feels a touch dusty, a little over-complicated for a new drinker. Weisslack is different though: no wood, cleaner, more driven, a screw-top, fresher, skinnier and not-at-all-dusty: it tastes like a young wine from the Pfalz rather than a Rheingau wine although it does have a telltale Rheingau spice structure to it - it was created for restaurants and modern gastronomic ventures.
It isn’t just Schloss Johannisberg though: the new Gutsweine (estate wines) from the Rheingau producers have all been spruced up a bit: the ever-relevant Georg Breuer range has retained its freshness, the wonderful wines of Spreitzer have cleaned up their act too: mineral-driven, clean, compact wines with freshness at the forefront of drinkability. Of course the upper-echelons of a winery’s portfolio still retain individual elements of traditional Rheingau character but even here, the wines have been to the gym: look at the 2014 and 2015 Grosse Gewächse from Allendorf and Balthasar Ress: addictively drinkable Riesling with focus on staying slippery: aerodynamic wines that fit perfectly with almost any dish imaginable despite losing nothing that makes Rheingau wine fantastic.
Let’s forget Riesling for a moment…
Riesling is what the Rheingau is best known for but some of the most interesting and thought-provoking wines to have emerged in the last few years are made from Pinot Noir. Whereas this varietal isn’t new in the Rheingau, the wines in the last few years are not just more drinkable but fabulously modern too. Peter Perabo of the Bischöfliches Weingut Rüdesheim is one of Germany’s most gifted Pinot Noir artists: the winery’s Pinots are some of the region's finest and all of them combine both the German take on Pinot Noir and the international appeal of this sometimes (particularly in Germany) problematic grape.
Likewise Chat Sauvage is making some wonderful Pinot Noir from some of the finest sites for this varietal in Germany. Odder still is their reluctance to produce any Riesling at all: favouring Chardonnay as a white varietal and yet these wines aren’t gimmicky or Chardonnay-worshiping wood-bombs but excellently crafted Burgundy-like wines with an exquisite drinkability and, compared to the wines they are modelled on, astonishing affordability.
A natural touch
The rise of natural wine is undisputable. Whereas 100% natural wines are likely to remain a niche-market product: having regular wines influenced by natural-wine characteristics is a welcome addition to a winemaker’s toolbox: long grape-skin maceration, leaving wines on the lees for longer than necessary, aging in clay amphora or no filtration for example. Two wineries in the Rheingau have impressed with surprisingly drinkable wines using exactly these practises: Balthasar Ress and Peter Jakob Kühn. In the case of Peter Jakob Kühn, the dry Rieslings from Grand Cru vineyards have more than just a background natural-wine feel to them: long grape maceration is noticeable in both the Sankt Nikolaus GG and the Doosberg GG wines. Balthasar Ress has recently endeaved to extend the amount of time some of their Rieslings spend on the lees with three wines aptly named: 18, 32 and 42 according to the number of months they matured with their yeasts. Not only that, Balthasar Ress produces an orange wine made from Pinot Blanc – actually one of the only orange wines that you could suggest might achieve unilateral appeal: it might indeed be a niche-market product but it isn’t too specialist that it might scare adventurous drinkers away.
It isn’t just still wine experiencing a revitalisation: three of Germany’s finest Sekt producers operate in the Rheingau: Schloss Vaux, Sekthaus Solter and Bardong. All three make some of the nation’s finest sparkling wine both out of Rheingau wines but also those imported from other production regions. Schloss Vaux has been at the forefront of German sparkling wine production for more than a decade and its single-vineyard line is a wonderful expression of how Rheingau Riesling and Pinot Noir works fantastically in powerful sparkling Cuvees. Sekthaus Solter too is one of the nation’s most decorated producers of bubbly and has some rather interesting Cuvees in their portfolio: with some of the region’s best sparkling-intended vineyards at their disposal, the producer’s fine wines continue to impress.
Perhaps most interesting is Bardong with its tendency to leave wines in the bottle for a long time before release. It uses both Riesling and the Pinot grapes to make Sekt from some of the region's best sites for growing grapes intended for the production of sparkling wine. It isn’t just
Sekt-houses that are making fabulous wine: some of the region’s wineries are also creating fabulous sparkling Rieslings or Pinots and one producer in particular is preparing a sparkling wine sourced only from its Grand Cru vineyard: Schloss Johannisberg – their first Sekt in decades.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the "reinvented" Rheingau is that it is still ever-changing: whereas a lot has been done, the region shows no sign of slowing down in its progressive approach to winemaking. The days of restrictive governing bodies and a traditionalist VDP-leadership are over: whereas the VDP still enforces traditional practise and typical Rheingau wines are in its sights, its talons have released slightly and its member wineries have a little more room to play with than they did before: will we see Chardonnay Grand Cru sites in the near future? Probably not but we will see a whole host of new wines emerging from one of Europe’s most important production regions: the often overshadowed and yet utterly appealing Rheingau.
Some wines to try
Finding these wines where you live
Many of these wines are available in the United States and United Kingdom. All are widely available in Germany and most in Austria and Switzerland.
If you'd like assistance in finding these wines where you live, please get in touch and I'll gladly help you find a handler/distributor in your region.
Ornellaia is pretty much a household name. Those lucky enough to have tried the winery’s flagship Bolgheri immediately recognise the wine to be one of the most important producers of the (relatively) newly-declared DOC on the Tuscan coast. However, priced at over a 100€, the wines aren’t intended for regular drinking but rather for special occasions.
Thankfully the winery produces both a second and a third wine: “Le Serre Nuove” and “Le Volte” respectively. For those with a stack of money left over, the winery’s “Masseto” Merlot is one of Italy’s and Tuscany’s most expensive wine – unfortunately, I’ve never tried it but it is claimed to be one of the world's best Merlots.
Last week (26.10.2016), I was lucky enough to check out the last few vintages of the second wine: Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia, a Bolgheri wine made using the younger vines of this already young estate. The wine is a Bordeaux blend with a slightly different mixture, according to the vintage.
Vertical tasting is always a great way to taste the gradual aging of a wine and the direct comparison between the vintages. We tasted the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014 wines with a few other special products from the Tuscan producer during the course of the afternoon.
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2007
40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot
A racing acidity runs through this 2007 Bolgheri. Alongside the red berries brought in through the Merlot, a wonderful structural acidity and robustness is built around this by the higher-than-usual Cabernet Sauvignon percentage. The tannins fall into place behind the bright red fruit: cranberry, wild strawberry and rhubarb and, on the finish is a fuller sense of toasted wood and a touch of liquorice.
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2008 (decanted)
55% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot
The red fruit in the 2008 Serre Nuove comes through in the form of sweet berries which, together form a compote feel: sweet strawberry, dried plum, blackcurrant and redcurrant lead onto a floral feel in the body of the wine which is finished off with a sprinkling of festive spices and an encasement of robust but smoothed tannins.
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2009
54% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc
The ripest and most pleasurable wine of the tasting, the 2009 Serre Nuove is at its optimal drinking stage right now. With some of the ripest Merlot fruit in a Tuscan wine I’ve tried to date, the wine felt big, grand and, being perfectly honest, a bit like a 1990s Bordeaux. Despite the fruit still being remarkably fresh: blackcurrant, Cassis, cranberry and lots of excellent red plums, the spice structure was excellently incorporated into the wine: plenty of lovely leather aromas, a dash of espresso and even a touch of cocoa. The tannins were nice and smooth and, paired with an enchanting background acidity, the wine made for excellent drinking
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2010
45% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc
Unfortunately the bottle at the tasting wasn’t in optimal condition. I’ll update this review if I get the chance to try the wine again.
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2011 (decanted)
57% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Franc
The 2011 Serre Nuove has a huge potential. A wonderful sense of liquorice lingers in the background behind notes of blackcurrant and blueberry. Still compact, the wine isn’t quite ready for drinking right now but hints at the direction the 2011 is going to take: classic, large, fruity: a stunner. A wonderful smoky aroma is introduced with the tannins which makes the wine rather seem a touch mysterious. Look out for this wine in the future.
Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2014
50% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot
Still in the primary fruit phase, the 2014 shows off a wonderful array of bright and sharp red berries: Cassis, blackcurrant and even, thanks to a sense of acitiy, a touch of grapefruit and rhubarb. The tannins are slowly falling into place and the wine’s youth makes it refreshing.
Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia 2014
70% Sauvignon Blanc, 16% Vermentino, 8% Verdicchio, 6% Viognier
It’s lovely to try a refreshing new style of white wine from a red wine region. Tuscan white has always been a bit of a disappointment to me in the past and yet this Sauvignon Blanc cuvee more than makes up for it. With a hint at the exotic fruits in the body, the wine manages to retain some of the green notes that make Sauvignon Blanc so interesting: gooseberry, green apple and lime lead onto peach, arpricot and even a touch of pineapple. The finish is salty, hints at wood rather than relying on it and wine feels clean and compact.
Ornus dell’Ornellaia 2011
100% Petit Manseng
Big and thick on the uptake with dried plums, raisons and a whole host of tropical fruits, this wine’s botrytis aromas are in the foreground and, particularly the dried pineapple and mango aromas partially cover up a profound sense of new oak: vanilla and coconut. Long and thick, the wine reminds of well-made Sauternes although is already wonderfully drinkable. Caramel, clotted cream and and honey are worked into the wine expertly making making it a very rewarding drink.
You'd think that, as a keen wine drinker, I should keep my mouth shut about this but, after all the years of drinking more Riesling than mineral water, milk and every other wine combined, I am still fully perplexed for this very simply reason:
Riesling is far cheaper than it should be.
I know why people don't buy Riesling: most of the world thinks it is always syrupy-sweet and most Germans think that it is overly acidic. Riesling does have a higher amount of acid than most grapes but modern wines, particularly the dry ones, don't have an unpalatable amount of acid, nothing to break open the heartburn tablets for and, imagine this for a second, acid in wine is good: it pairs well with many different cuisines and is an important part of both the structure of a wine and a crucial part of its ability to carry flavour. The mis-conception that Riesling is always sweet is also pretty much true if you only visit supermarkets and smaller wine stores outside of Germany or Austria. However, the majority of Riesling sold in Germany is dry and these wines are beginning to emerge in other countries (finally).
But this isn't about Riesling's struggle against mainstream mis-conception, rather a simple fact: Riesling is worth a lot more than the price most of us pay for it. Decent Chardonnay is a great deal more expensive and seldom as good as Riesling - I know this is an objective statement but, it's true as well: take a ten euro Riesling and a twenty euro Chardonnay and....the Riesling is nearly always the better wine.
Riesling has the ability to impress: I have converted hundreds of Chardonnay drinkers to Riesling and hundreds of Pinot Grigio drinkers onto Riesling as well: they always have the same objections and then, when it is in their mouths and finally swallowed, they are forced to agree with me and I'm not talking about expensive wines here. Actually Riesling has such a wow factor that I've converted drinkers of only the driest wines to actually try and like sweet wines and off-dry wines made of Riesling.
But, Rieslings struggle against false or unimportant interpretations isn't new and a handful of bloggers and wine journalists have been trying to combat it for years. There is however a huge argument in favour of Riesling and that is quite simply the value-for-money factor: aside from a handful of wines from Alsace and sweet wines from Rheingau and Mosel (and one dry wine from Rheinhessen), Riesling is nearly always completely affordable and I'm not talking about average quality wines here. Ten euros is going to get you a very good wine in Germany, twenty euros and you're looking at world-class white wine....think of what you'd pay for that in France or the USA.
1) Nearly all Riesling is good
Yep, that's not a lie - nearly all Riesling (particularly the dry ones) are good, 80% are even very good. You can't say that about any other varietal (apart from perhaps Grüner Veltliner). Seriously: there are very, very few bad Rieslings out there: yes, the supermarkets stock extremely cheap Riesling however most of these are drinkable and more than half are actually enjoyable. Whether dry, sweet, cheap or premium: Riesling is always a treat.
2) Riesling is the best food wine
There is a Riesling for any food dish - actually I'll be posting more on this point in the next few weeks but, for now, I challenge you to think of a dish that you can't pair with one form of Riesling. Like Asian food? Always Riesling. Seafood? Again, Riesling is your best bet. Steak, burger, pizza? Riesling is always a good choice - imagine being able to choose a bottle of wine at a restaurant that fits with everyones' dish? I can't think of another varietal that can offer that.
3) Compare the value-for-money factor with other wines. Riesling always wins.
Take a 200 euro Pauillac, a 200 euro Pommard and a 200 euro Cabernet from Napa - nothing will come close to the value for money factor in a 20 euro Riesling. Of course, the wines are very different but, if you were to assign the same price per quality to Riesling as you would to the above-mentioned wines, Riesling would cost 200 euros or more. Don't believe me? Check out the scores of the best Rieslings from every major wine critic and those of the Burgundy, Bordeaux and Napa wines....now do a quick internet search to find out how much they cost. Don't forget to pick up your chin from the desk once you're done.
4) Riesling ages gracefully
Dry Riesling ages better than white Burgundy and some sweet Rieslings are pretty much eternal. Provided that the wines have good corks, sweet wines can be enjoyed 50, 60 and even 100 years later. Dry wines can age 15-30 years and, thanks to the acidity (see I told you it was a good thing), they always retain a certain freshness. Whilst investment buyers might only choose a few select wines from the most famous wineries in the rarest forms, most Riesling ages very well regardless of cork or screw-top. To describe how Riesling ages is like describing how beef tastes: there are so many different aromas and characteristics that come with so many wines - they are all remarkably different but they all have the ability to age.
5) There are very few poor vintages
Whilst a top vintage is just as rare as in the other regions (although strangely becoming ever-so-common), the "bad" Riesling vintages seldom create low-quality wines. Actually, in the entry-level category for winery-made products, the level of consistency is unparalleled in Europe. Riesling always pulls off a decent show - whilst the premium dry and nobly sweet rarities are noticeably different between the vintages, it is still rare to find a bad or disappointing wine.
6) You can drink Riesling when you want
Maybe not all people agree with this point but I'm going to make it anyway: Riesling is fabulous at every point in its development: from fresh-in-the-bottle to pre-historic: Riesling is always enjoyable. Whilst some of the sweeter wines do lose a bit of, let's call it "zing" in middle-age, they are still perfectly palatable throughout their lives: you can wait or you can drink it now: you don't have to wait for ripeness...but you can...if you want: it really is completely up to you!
7) It wasn't always this way
There was a time when Riesling wines from the Mosel and Rheingau regions cost just as much and sometimes even more than the famous products of the Domaines and Chateaux of Burgundy and Bordeaux. Again, I challenge you to check that fact out. In the late 19th and 20th Century, Riesling from the Rhine regions and its tributaries (commonly referred to as Hock back then) was some of the most expensive wine in the world and was one of the most important German exports: these days machinery and automobiles have taken this title but it all started with wine - some of Europe's oldest and most profitable wine merchants were (and still are) based in Germany's Hanse-Städte: they used to export millions of litres of Riesling all over Europe and the wines were so sought-after that they often auctioned for much higher amounts of money than the French wines of the time did.
8) Riesling isn't necessarily cheap to make.
Whereas a great deal of European and New-World vineyards are fully-mechanised. A great deal of those in Germany (particularly those where Riesling is grown) aren't and probably never will be. High-altitudes, steep slopes and slippery floors make the planting, caring-for and eventual picking of Riesling grapes quite a job. Not only that: German employment guidelines for the pickers are some of the strictest in Europe and German vintners pay some of the highest wages in the world for seasonal pickers. Also, being so far North, German winemakers (again, particularly with Riesling regions), there is a large element of risk in the production of Riesling: hail, not-enough sun, too much rain, fewer natural predators for pests, frost and many other factors make producing Riesling a far greater risk than many other varietals and, in the regions where it is produced, it can be very unrewarding to make wine at all: yields are low, crop loss is high and winemakers are in a constant battle against nature to make a living.
9) Riesling expresses its 'terroir' more than any other varietal.
Whereas you can train yourself to taste the soil upon which a wine has grown, Riesling is one of the best wines to discover this in. Whether slate or limestone, quartzite or volcanic, it is nearly always present in the glass. No two Rieslings taste the same and, due to the simple fact that most German wine is sourced from a particular region (usually comparatively small to those overseas), the wines often stay true to the form that nature chose for them: regardless how many separate vineyards' grapes are used in them. Whereas all regions have a variety of soil types and differing climates within them, Riesling wines are often shaped by the place they were grown in - whereas Pinot Noir and Chardonnay also express terroir well, Riesling does it best.
10) There's not as much of it as you think there is.
German wine and the word Riesling are synonymous: think of Germany and you think of Riesling. Because of the customer's mis-conception that Riesling is sweet and too acidic to consume, winemakers have been forced to plant other varietals - wine tastes change and, whilst Riesling crops have remained stable in the last few years, the varietal occupies less of Germany's vineyard space than it used to (in %). In fact, compared with other regions, German wine production is tiny: in Bordeaux alone there are over 120,000 hectares of vineyards. In Germany there are around 102,000 hectares, only about 22% which are covered by Riesling vines (source).
But perhaps things are changing. Riesling has never attracted the same attention as Bordeaux and Burgundy (particularly in the important emerging markets). This will undoubtedly change though and the nation's new wave of young winemakers is likely to have an effect on the demand both overseas and inland. the German Wine Institute, Generation Riesling and the VDP are doing a great job in promoting the varietal and prices have risen slightly in the last decade.
Unfortunately though, 2016 looks like it is going to be a disastrous vintage: weather, pests and a whole host of other factors mean that there will be far fewer 2016 wines than in the vintages beforehand. Stock up on 2015 Riesling (one of the best vintages ever) to make sure you don't miss out.