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Grape Varieties

Glossary terms

Reichensteiner (white)

Three-way crossing by the late Dr Helmut Becker with Germany's Müller-Thurgau, France's madeleine angevine and Italy's calabrese, also planted in England and New Zealand.


Riesling (white)

The one true classic non-French grape, Riesling is the most versatile, scented white variety in the range of wines it produces from dry to lusciously sweet. Yet it's revival always seems to be just around the next corner.

This is as much because of its tarnished reputation due to Liebfraumilch and the array of wanna-be Rieslings which have arrogated the good name of Rhine Riesling (Olasz, Welsch, Laski, Riesling Italico) as for the steely acidity which generally makes for more demanding wines than those produced from Sauvignon or Chardonnay. The late-ripening Riesling's heartland is the steep Mosel and Rheingau valleys of Germany, where it produces wines rich in crisp, lime and appley flavours and honeyed richness. Its classification from dry to sweet gives it an entirely different cultural slant from its French counterparts, with the perfumed, sweet styles ranging from auslese to trockenbeerenauslese in great demand. Fine, dry Riesling is not only increasingly fashionable in Germany, but in Alsace and Austria too, where, in the Wachau in particular, some of the world's greatest dry Rieslings are produced. As a cool climate variety par excellence, Riesling has not adapted as well as the other to classics to the New World, but there are a handful of regions where it has been shown to do well, most notably the Eden and Clare Valleys in South Australia, Mount Barker in Western Australia, New Zealand's South Island, Washington State, and cooler spots in California and the Cape's Constantia.

What does it taste like?

  • apples and lime
  • honey and petrol characters

  • In its Teutonic heartland of the Mosel and Rheingau Valleys, RIESLING produces elegant wines with crisp, lime, lemon, apple and peach flavours and honeyed richness. In the Mosel it is said to become slatey, which is easier to describe as minerally, developing honey, petrol and kerosene-like flavours. In Alsace it can be more floral and perfumed, while Australian RIESLING, particularly from the Eden and Clare Valleys, starts out lime and lemon-like and develops a minerally, keroseney character with age.

Rkatsiteli (white)

Widely planted Russian variety grown in most of the ex-Soviet wine producing republics, especially Georgia.


Robola (white)

Robola is grown on the islands of Corfu and Zakynthos, but the finest examples come from Cephalonia, the largest of the Ionian Islands.

The finest grapes are produced at high altitude (500m above sea level), on the plateau of the picturesque Omala valley, where the soil is predominantly limestone. Robola produces full-flavoured, crisp whites whose alcohol ranges from 13% to 14% abv

Roditis (white)

Roditis has a number of clones, the most aromatic being Migdali and Alepou, both of which have a pinkish skin.

This grape is a crowd pleaser and, as such, is widely planted all over Greece, forming the backbone of the Patras appellation in the northwestern Peloponnese. Two emerging sub-regions have staked their claim as the best sites for Roditis: one lies on the slopes of Panachaiko Mountain, the other is in Egialia, overlooking the Gulf of Corinth. Roditis is also grown in Attica and in Beotia, while the Macedonian hillsides, northeast of Thessaloniki, are making a reputation as a new venue for the vines. The northwest version is spicier than the southern, and is making a convincing case for a tightly structured 'northern style', in contrast to the more generous wines produced in the warmer climate of the Peloponnese

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Glossary terms