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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

The Great Riesling seminar and tasting held last week, hosted by Charles Taylor Wines, Walter Siegel Wines, Liberty Wines and AH Wines, was the equivalent of a sellout. The Royal United Services Institute in London struggled to accommodate the number of people who attended. Jancis Robinson MW was scheduled to conduct one seminar but did two, after in excess of 500 acceptances were received by the organisers. Charles Taylor MW of Charles Taylor Wines estimated that approximately 220 people attended the two seminars, which comprised Jasper Morris MW of Morris & Verdin giving a wine merchant's view and Martin Lam of the London restaurant Ransome's Dock giving an on-trade perspective of Riesling. Several principals did not make the event because they were stuck in Frankfurt, following a fire on a Ryanair jet. A full report on the seminar, written by Harry Eyres, will appear in a forthcoming issue of Harpers. Asked by Morris if they thought Riesling was the greatest white grape in the world, approximately a third in the second seminar voted yes'. Morris then spoke about the variety's purity and complexity'. Robinson wondered whether preconceptions that all German and Austrian wines are sweet' were waning, and if so there was an opportunity to target the next generation. She said Riesling was unfashionable because it was low in alcohol, high in acidity, is white and has no oak'. Lam said customers were embarrassed at not being able to pronounce the Germanic names. He singled out the Australian Rieslings and Eroica, Ernst Loosen's Washington State Riesling (a joint venture with Stimson Lane), as the way ahead for Riesling.