As promised, here is part 2 of my paean to Western Victorian wine (Part 1, on the iconic Best’s winery, can be found here; while an earlier piece on Western Vic can be found here), this week focussing on the mighty Riesling grape. There are some incredibly exciting rieslings coming out of this area at the moment – many of them not new producers – but it certainly feels like the styles throughout the area are starting to converge a bit and that there’s somewhat of a ‘movement’ that is gathering momentum.
The spiritual home of Riesling is up around the French/German border. A diplomatic answer given that both the French (in Alsace) and the Germans (Mosel, Pfaltz, Nahe & Rheingau) will probably try to claim primary ownership over it. The best wines from these regions are at once delicate and intensely powerful, may have luscious natural sweetness, and will age for far longer than you and I. Riesling does pretty well in Australia, with the Clare and Eden Valleys being the most widely planted and best known sources. Both these regions produce fantastic wines, in a uniquely Australian style; mostly dry, hugely powerful acidity, and often intensely aromatic. There’s a nod of the cap to some of the great dry German wines, known as the Grosse Gewachs, but they are undeniably unique in their provenance.
To contrast, the rieslings that are coming out of Western Victoria at the moment are a totally different style, Australian with a slight European accent, if you will. More about texture than power, there is often a touch more natural sugar retained, giving them a decidedly ‘Kabinett-Esque’ feel (Kabinett being a German ripeness classification that generally relates to a mild sweetness in the wine). Whilst you can read about the excellent Best’s Riesling in the first part of this series, my current favourite example is the ’12 Jamsheed Great Western ‘Garden Gully’ Riesling, a wine that marries power with sweetness and some rounded-out texture due to it being fermented in old oak barrels (a highly unusual practice for Riesling). It’s a wine that will make it to my cellar in is in the running for my wines of the year. Also fantastic is the 2010 Hochkirch Riesling from Tarrington, made in a similar way and showing lemon and lime on the deliciously full palate. No run-down of Western Vic riesling would be complete without including the inimitable Crawford River Riesling, of which either the ‘estate’ or ‘young vines’ edition are consistently terrific, spicy and fresh. If you have never tried these wines, and have even the faintest fancy for Riesling, buy buy buy!
Until Next Time, Happy Drinking,