The Riesling grape variety produces some of the finest white wines, in which high acidity is balanced with residual sugar. Austria saw the dawn of a new era of winemaking in the 1980s. The best crus of Riesling from the sunniest sites were harvested extremely late, yielding grape musts with high sugar levels, concentrated fruit and typical Riesling acidity levels. When fermented to dryness the resulting wine has an alcoholic strength of 13-14%, with 2-4 grams of residual sugar. Fresh acidity and high levels of mineral components can produce an intense wine with wonderful peach aromas. The wine also ages exceptionally well, with its colour changing slightly to give the typical hue of an aged Riesling. In search of the shape that would best match this new style, Stuart Pigott, a British wine journalist specialising in Riesling, put together a tasting of the finest 1990 vintages from Germany, France and Austria. Riedel sent a selection of glasses for evaluation, suspecting - correctly - that their Chianti Classico (Item No. 400/15) glass might prove ideal. This tasting was subsequently repeated in London, Paris and New York, raising awareness among wine writers of the new Riesling styles. The wines were presented exclusively in this glass, which henceforth also goes under the name of the Sommeliers Riesling Grand Cru.
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