there are some new reviews oozing though here, but we're not deckin em up all pretty til we work out an otherwise unborn style for this sleazy rube we call drankster


that's a George Grainger Aldridge cartoon ... obviously a pre-screwcap man

20 March 2009


Forbes and Forbes Eden Valley Riesling 2002

Pre-release sample under screw cap; 96++ points
Without ever attending an Alsace vintage, the veteran Colin Forbes, more than any other Barossan, makes rieslings that age like great Alsatians. I don't know precisely how much he had to do with this golden glory, as yet unreleased, but it's perfect among them. It is only just beginning the long climb to its zenith. Its incredible depth of aroma covers everything from profuse tropical jungle vines and blossoming lantana to freshly-lopped and shucked ripe pineapple. I smelled this once after an oran-utan family had gutsed their way through a swathe of Borneo jungle I’d just wandered into for a tentative leak. This sheer depth of fruitaveg overwhelms the schisty podsolic aromas of the dirt, which would overwhelm any ordinary wine. But they’re there: maybe even some ironstone pellets. In the mouth, it’s much more elegant and fine than that huge bouquet would insinuate, with beautiful unsalted butter touches – beurre blanc with soft poached diced white onion sort of thing; plenty of lemon juice on the King George Whiting fillet that’s wrapped around that frothy prawn mousseline – and then those dry old upland soils come back to haunt the aftertaste. Fantastic maturing wine. Fair dink swoon city. And most unlike your regular High Barossa austerities, although this mustabin like that as an infant. I’ll let you know as its release approaches. Friggin scary wine. It should cost $120. I’ve had it open a week, and it’s only just waking up on the last glass. We shall see. If only we can stay alive long enough. And now that it’s nearly done, I beg you to consider my reference to the piss-elegant foodstuffs above as gustatory metaphors only. You should have this with full-bore Alsace choucroute, with Barossa kranskis and stacks of hot Pommy mustard as well as scoops of the grainy Dijon stuff. Jesus, Hell. 17 DEC 08 ... UPDATE 3MAY10: Colin Forbes now sells his exemplary High Barossa Rieslings at Bob and Wilma McLean's McLean's Farm Winery on Mengler's Hill in the Barossa. Tastings and sales by appointment only.

Jeanneret Doozie Clare Valley Riesling 2007
$40; 12% alcohol; glass stopper; 96++ points
Gram Parsons’ song, The New Soft Shoe, was about the amazing motivational skills of Errett Lobban Cord, the genius behind the magnificent Duesenberg cars of the thirties, from whence comes “The real Duesy”. Ben Jeanneret makes himself the Cord of Clare with this premium reserve rizza, which is a whole step above his brilliant Big Fine Girl ($18; 94+++). This is the best Australian riesling I’ve had for years. It’s not just a real doozy, but it is the new soft shoe. Brilliant! Get it on. Cruise.

Pauletts Antonina Premium Polish Hill River Clare Riesling 2005
$38; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 95 points
I can’t drink this heavenliness without recalling Alison and Neil Paulett’s early hell, moving to Clare after the loss of a toddler, to be cindered on Ash Wednesday, then buggered by flood and mud. Here’s the triumph of their resilience: a swoony, sick-with-love style of riesling that has that posh Germanic turn of flavour, as if its pristine lemon and starfruit juice had a drop of clotted cream or yoghurt on the top. It renders me teary. Exquisite!

Jeanneret Big Fine Girl Clare Valley Riesling 2007
$18; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94 +++ points
Not to be too gender-specific, this exquisity from Ben Jeanneret is three parts Rhinemaiden and one part rhinoceros when you get beneath the illusion of sublime elegance and check her grunty chassis. She’ll go forever. Already glorious, and in huge voice, she oozes the fruit and pollen of pear, Chinese gooseberry, banana, lime and tamarillo. Her stiff pithy tannin and staunch acidity are just the beginning: when she hits full speed the ground will shake. Confit or cassoulet of goose; Alsace choucroute.

Good Catholic Girl Teresa Clare Valley Riesling 2008
$30; 12.9% alcohol; screw cap; drunk APR 09; 94+++ points
Julie Barry named this wine after her Mum. She thinks it’s “a very similar colour to St Teresa herself who notoriously suffered greatly from illness”. Jules says it was grown by “Faulkner and Pearson ... two meticulous and passionate grape growers (and both Good Catholic Boys!), whose vineyards neighbour one another in Penwortham, the original settlement of the Clare Valley”. What else? Oh, it’s about the best riesling I’ve had since the night the unicorns came through the gate. I agree with Jules that it smells like blackcurrant, which is a first for riesling in my book. It’s also packed with lemon: its blossom, rind, pith and juice; even the candied and pickled forms. A dry whiff of the sparse schisty sandstones of Penwortham. A field of wheat. It’s a big hearty mutha, nothing like the sickly Saint. Picked before the notorious heat ray days of 2008. Considering the bouquet, the palate’s very finely formed at first. Then it begins to show its mighty hand. Goodness gracious me. Perfect form, perfect balance: how can it be so bare-facedly forceful? Because it’s the best of the Clare riesling, to start with. Because it was made by the scary Barry-Jeanneret team, next. Because they let each vineyard sing. Because it had to be a fair match to the James Brazill shiraz, which is wine of a similar stature, named after Julie’s Dad. And because it is. You’d better be quick. And once you get it, you’d better take it slow. It’ll eat your cellar. And one day it’ll stalk tall up those stairs and eat you, you lucky sod.

Karra Yerta Eden Valley Riesling 2009$??; 13% alcohol; screw cap; drunk 17-20 OCT 09; 94+++ points
Marie and James Linke tend this tiny patch of 80 year old vines on their windswept ridge above Gooseburg in the wild High Barossa. And tend IS the word. You wouldn't put a machine near this priceless vitcultural jewel of a garden. It seems almost oblivious to drought or the Devil, or whatever evils nature can throw at it: year-in, year-out, it oozes incredibly fine, tense, taught riesling. No irrigation. Hardly any grapes. Berries like lentils. And this is even more along those lines than usual. It smells of the sandstone and schist of that hairy ridge, with the gentlest citrus blossom, the pith of limes and lemons, faint banana, dried apple, freshly bitten nashi peart, he tiniest slice of jackfruit ... I dunno. It confounds me. Then tip some of it into you, and all that promise seems suddenly compacted and refined, drawn out and tensioned, like a steel marine cable. Or maybe a really good German tape-wound jazz guitar string. There is no compromise. You might expect it to suddenly twang. But it doesn't. It just seems to wind tighter and tighter, and stretch longer, until eventually the furry tannins move up, kinda wrapping all that tension with velvet. It's a beautiful austere cold Nico of a wine which shouldn't be served too chilly: this princess brings her own chill. And she'll keep bringing it for many many years. Like 25. Deutschland Uber Alles! Stunning.

Penfolds Aged Release Reserve Bin Riesling 2005
$??; 11% alcohol; screw cap; 15APR10; 94+++ points
The good burghers of Chablis might find this a tricky nonsense, but I can’t help thinking that this Riesling is Chablis-like in its form and structure. It has comforting tweaks of honeycomb toffee and toast amongst its rich, creamy, Chardonnay-like fruit. But scratch it, and of course it's Riesling, with all that lemon pith and schisty mineral influence. These characters are prominent in both bouquet and palate, making an opulent and majestic wine that will quite comfortably rule the table now, or at any point in the next dozen years.
2005 was exceptional in the Eden Valley, with plenty of rain, a warm early spring, and a cool January.

Jeanneret Doozie Clare Riesling 2008
$??; 12% alcohol; glass stopper; 94++ points
Given the withering horror of the drought, both of Ben Jeanneret’s 2008 rieslings are slightly less forceful than the mighty 07s - they’re more along the lines of naughty languorous wastrels than the determined muscly valkyries we got last year. (All that screeching every time a boy fell!) There’s a lot to be said for languor. This year, she’s let the boys take the Deusenberg out for a blast, and lies around on the Courvoisier chaise with a sloe gin, cigarette in the longest holder, chasing the odd dragon. This is perfumed, provocative, sensuous wine, annoying in her cool distant gaze and the way she flicks her ash at her ocelot. Like her baby sister, the Big Fine Girl, this year’s Doozy lass has less brute force lime and more engaging lantana twine in her tendrils. And sweet honeyed blossom. Which is nice. Whole gar, off the char please Diddums. Lemon and pepper. Ta. Throw the bones to the pussy. 19 NOV 08

Karra Yerta Eden Valley Riesling 2007

$25; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points
In the middle of the drought, I got bogged in this vineyard, in chill sideways rain. And I was walking. Way up above Flaxman’s gully on a ridge I’d never clumb before. Amazing old twisted bush vines as close as the Barossa gets to the skies. With all these utterly luscious limy fruits from tropics undiscovered, this is easily one of the best rizzas of the year. Viscous, yet strapping, and sinuous, with white peach and honeydew, custard, distant lime and further lemon, grainy, pithy tannin, all strapped around a shaft of natural acid, I dunno. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be drinking right now. No food required. Maybe chèvre.

Paracombe Holland Creek Adelaide Hills Riesling 2008$19; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points
Matchbox, lemon, lime, lychee, guava, carambola, ginger: when Drogs sets his mighty shoulders to the pursuit of a flavour, he almost seems to scare it outa the ground and into the fruit. Earlier vintages of this unique little vineyard in the gully have been memorable for their elegance and gentle, pretty fragrance. This one's a brute. It's still elegant, mind you, like Muhammed Ali at his most elegant. And it does have a gentle, pretty fragrance of freezia blooms and nashi pears. And below all those accoutrements, there's a chassis like the pre-Cambrian. It's a block of a wine, reminding me of the densest mothers Josmeyer or Loosen could possibly loosen. It'll be more ravishing in ten years, but between you and me, I need ravaging now. MAR 09 


Josmeyer Le Kottabe Alsace Riesling 2005
$50; 12% alcohol; cork; 94+ points
Josmeyer is in Wintzenheim, in the Jurassic limestone of the Haut-Rhin. Made by the passionate obsessive, Jean Meyer, the wines are all biodynamic, and use only indigenous yeasts. This lush slime of a drink is about as good as Alsace rizza gets: beneath its chalky, smoky topnote it smells like pear poached in Sauternes and pinot with cloves and served with a sabayon. The palate’s really squishy and Sauternes-viscous, but bone dry. The flavours are more lemon-custardy than the nose hints, and the wine gradually tapers off to a long finish with fine dusty tannin. Poached snapper mit fennel, or coq au vin, onions, savory, chervil, tarragon.

Karra Yerta Eden Valley Riesling 2005
$20; 11.8% alcohol; screw cap; 94+ points
Cool this, unscrew, pour your glass and ponder it while the bottle breathes for an hour or two in the fridge. Go again, and you’ll begin to realise the quiet force and huge cellaring potential of this mighty riesling from the Valkyrie uplands atop Flaxman’s Gully. For this is Valkyrie wine: syrupy, dry, austere stone-and-muscle, with Tim Smith’s sensitive wine-making ensuring decades of safe maturation. Strong food: duck, beets and red cabbage.

Paracombe Holland Creek Adelaide Hills Riesling 2007
$20; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94+ points
Easily the most Alsatian of the few stunning rizzas on the top of the 2007 South Australian pyramid, this one’s so terribly, disarmingly, miraculously fragrant and open-faced that it almost seems naïve. It’s like watermelon. And it’s fluffy, like fairy floss. An illusion of sweetness. Banana. The beginnings of musk lollies. Honeydew. A sort of a gay Josmeyer. It’s viscous, then perfectly, ever so slightly, tannic. With severe acidity welling below. Along with Steve George’s new chardonnay, it’s my pick of the new Hills whites. Spaghetti vongole; chopped parsley.

Boston Bay Riesling 2008
$22; 11.8% alcohol; screw cap; 93+++ points
Having been up to my dirty black squid-stained gizzards in it since its vignoble was just a wicked thirsty dream, I shall confidently state that this is the best wine yet from Eyre Peninsula. I saw it barely clarified in tank at O’Leary-Walker, and it told me I was a fool to think it a freak. Now it’s in bottle many weeks it tells me to sit back, shut up, and acknowledge that after twenty-five years the Ford Family’s mad, brave little vineyard on du Cotes Champagny at Boston Bay is a dead serious premium riesling site: equal to any. On Earth. This is gorgeous, forceful, austere, confident bliss. Mm.

Grosset Polish Hill Clare Riesling 2008

$44; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 93+++ points
Deceptively reluctant to emerge at first – don’t chill it; cool it - this wine eventually exudes a pleasing, teasing whiff of nashi pear and a certain creaminess, like ly-chee. It gradually builds up a wet flagstone base note, giving it an almost Austrian authority, like some Salomon. Similarly, the palate’s creamy and lush, with a longer, more comforting finish than that slaty bouquet promised. Then you disturb a severe wall of lemon-and-lime acidity and sombre stone, and begin to realise this is a wine for very long-term cellaring indeed. It’s a beauty. Choucroute with parsnips and smoky speck. (17 AUG 8)

Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling 2009
$??; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 15APR10; 93+++ points
Uh-oh. Here’s the hard man! I mean the 2010 Penfolds release is staunch with wines of amazing authority and composure, but this is sumpin else. This is unabashed, this basher, in its cyborg-like determination to rule and dominate. It’s like ground-up saucepans in its steely resolve: classic Eden Valley fruit stands in impenetrable compaction, leaving just a squeak of lemon at one end and the dry flavours of schist and sandstone at the other. But persevere, and you’ll find the slightest dribble of redgum honey, and after a couple of good glasses full, you begin to sense the hint of your actual viscosity amongst all that stainless steel. Not too much in the way of comfort going on, if you get my drift. Dungeon: twenty years, no parole.

Jeanneret Big Fine Girl Clare Riesling 2008
$??; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93++ points
While the second Big Fine Girl immediately seems more elegant than last year’s: finer, and more delicately turned, she’s not yet as harmonious in her movement. There’s the usual whiff of banana and lime blossom in the bouquet, but waxy lime leaves add as much to the pretty palate as the usual juice of the fruit. It’s slightly fluffy and frivolous before the rapier of steely acidity becomes apparent, sheathed in the gentle tannic padding of the pith of the lime. In five years all these bits will be one powerfully smooth whoosh of pleasure. In ten she’ll be legendary. 19 NOV 08

Karra Yerta Flaxman's Gully Eden Valley Barossa Riesling 2008
$20(?); unlabelled pre-release bottle; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93++ points
Alsace. Germany. Tasmania. High Barossa. Who cares? Honey and nuts; gewurztraminer and roses; spicebox and creme caramel: you'll find all these sorts of delicioso swimming round this bowl. It's not the austere crisp rapier some earlier Karra Yertas have been, but it's rich and wholesome, like some of the more Germanic rieslings made in the Barossa in the sixties and seventies, and what I imagine Petaluma tried to do sometimes during the eighties. The flavour has lovely honey as much as lemon and lime: not exactly sweet, but with an illusion of sweetness as much as your actual unfermented sugary juice. The aftertaste is a tantalising tumble of spiced mead, citrus pith, dried apple, lemon blossom and dry stones. It's like a serious spatlese riesling fermented dry. It'd be perfect with a creme caramel flavoured with a tiny squirt of lemon and garnished with citrus rind; or King George whiting fillets wrapped around a little squirt of prawn mousseline in beurre blanc. Savvy?

McLean's Farmgate Eden Valley Riesling 2008
$25; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; tasted 19-23 June 09; 93++ points
Butterscotch and honey are as happily swimming about this glass as your usually humourless and grainy Eden Valley riesling. This is a soulful riesling, which sounds impossible in those barren, tough hills, but it will become even more soulfully appealing as the years slide by. The ooze of honey in the bouquet emerges again in the finish, where it leaves a flavour quite distinctively reminiscent of a teaspoon of lemon and honey, like granny gave you when you were a kid. So while the usually lemony acid of riesling takes a little longer to emerge discretely in this lovely wine, it looks even better when it does. Then there's all that schisty rock and sandstone and whatnot that underlies Eden, providing a dry country flavour that would go perfectly with apple streuzel and a cigarette or two.

Petaluma Clare Valley Riesling 2008
$30; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93++ points
Brrrrr. Here’s another ravishing example of the outstanding rieslings made in Clare before the heatwave turned everything to Aeroplane Jelly. I know, I know you’ve heard the descriptor before, but there are no other words for it: this smells like flagstone soaked in lime juice. It’s a scrumptious, unctuous, confounding wine: huge in force and presence, but still impeccably elegant and reserved. It has fresh healthy fruit spongily wrapped around a chassis of rapier acidity, with phenolics and tannins that resemble the Hanlin’s Hill rock, with maybe just a little tease of strawberry pith. One of Petal’s best. Salmon confit.

Sevenhill St Aloysius Clare Riesling 2008
Pre-release sample under screw cap; 93++ points
Gloriously fragrant and floral, this hyper-stylish number triggers dreamings of a very posh art deco barbershop, with all that lacquer and pomade, fresh starched linen, and vases of freesias and peach blossom everywhere. It’s a thick aroma: dense and oily. But utterly seductive and mystifying. The palate comes as surprise after all that solidity: as thickly viscous as you’d expect, but with incredible lemony acidity, and the slate and quartzite and red dirt of the Sevenhill valley drawing the finish out to a very fine, long, puckery taper. I should be jumping on this if I were you; it’s probably released by now. It’s very smart of the Clare winemakers, keeping their rieslings back for a few months. Especially under the sanitary protection of that screw cap. Scrumptious. 17 DEC 08

Peter Lehmann Barossa Reserve Riesling 2002
$??; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 93+ points
More pennants than Agincourt adorn the neck of this old knight: gongs, doubloons, golden chalices from crusades hither and thither ... thus the scribes of the Court of Lehmann have rendered a whole flock of geese stark naked scrivening his victories with their feathers. He’s losing his primary fruit now, with all the lemony edge falling to the fuller flavours of ripe lime, plantains, capeweed, and enoki mushrooms. He still has quite some schisty edge in the breath: the acridity of his stone and soil remain. But that body: wow. Viscous like fine olive oil, elegant of line, dry and stony tannin in the tail, he deserves every scrap of booty he can carry. He may go another five years; maybe more. 17 DEC 08

Kersbrook Hill Adelaide Hills Riesling 2006
$21; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points
Another Jeanneret effort, this time for Paul Clarke, of Kersbrook, this stubborn individualist won gold and trophy for the both of them at the Adelaide Hills Wine Show last year. It's bigger than many Hills rizzas, with peach skin tannins after its highly assimilated and homogenised tropical fruitsalad aromas, and lovely fine acidity in the finish, hanging like delicate Chantilly lace over all that lime, peach, lychee, rambutan and whatnot. It's another great wine from a winemaker who always lets the fruit have its way.

Paracombe Holland Creek Adelaide Hills Riesling 2006
($19, 12.5% alcohol; screwcap; 93 points)
While Paul and Kath Drogemuller make big, soft reds at their beautiful vineyard at Paracombe, this riesling, from the deep ferruginous soil and shale of the Galipo family’s vineyard nearby, is the opposite: austere, and crunchy with natural lemony acidity. Yet it reeks of powerful aromatics, with honeydew, honeysuckle blossom, even elderflower. It’ll last for a decade beneath this trusty seal, but it’s ravishing now. Whiting or garfish with lemon and fresh pepper. (18.11.26)

Paradigm Hill Mornington Peninsula Riesling 2006
$24; 13.3% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points
George and Ruth Mihaly are kicking serious bottom at Paradigm Hill: now they add a cracker riesling to their predominantly Burgundy-style range. Basket pressed, and fermented slow, the wine has a beautiful complexity, with dried apple and pear aromas as much as the usual lime, over a husky, limestone-like base. The flavours are gentle yet persistent, and the texture is perfectly viscous, yet grainy and dry. Goose cassoulet.

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling 2009
$??; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 15APR10; 93 points
Here’s a quaint wine of the “spatlese” style common in the seventies, being just off-dry at 3.8 grams of sugar per litre. It has the aged floral aroma of your grannie’s handbag, with various shots of this scent and that facecream and whatever. Even old Pound notes. And instead of steely austerity, it has the comforting aroma of strawberry pith as much as the usual pith of the lemon and lime. Its firm finishing phenolics balance that little tweak of sugar perfectly, leaving only the insinuation of honeyed sweetness. Perfect with apricot streusel kuchen and white English breakfast tea at eleven.

Peter Lehmann Cellar Collection Eden Valley Riesling 1991$??; ??% alcohol; cork; drunk 7MAY10; 93 points
Grape jelly, poached pear, fig and peach swam about this bonnie, sensual glass. It’s very creamy and slick, almost custardy, as if it had undergone malo. So much so, in that comforting umami manner, that it seemed humanly fleshy and milky. And yet its finish was clean and crisp. Stunning wine, given that cork.

Sevenhill Clare Valley Riesling 2006

($19; 11.9% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points)
Having taken the Sevenhill tiller after Tim Gneil’s departure, Liz Heidenreich won the trophy for best white under $20 at Adelaide with this gorgeous unction. More forceful than Tim’s delicate meadow-blossom models, her ’06 has all their lemony zip, but it swims in blood orange and ripe lime. Its wholesome, hearty vortex spins all that with rose hips and strawberry pith, around acidity that’s staunch enough for foods as boisterous as bouillabaisse. Cellar some. (11.11.06)

Tin Shed Wild Bunch Eden Valley Riesling 2006
($18; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points)
At its best, like this, Eden Valley rizza is more austere, dry and stony than its floral Clare cousins, and needs years. Wild Bunch reeks of tight lemon acidity, with that acrid flinty waftage of a chain gang crackin’ rocks. The palate’s in the same quarry, with totally uncompromising reflections of the schist and granite below its little vineyard. It leaves the tongue as dry as dust, hanging out for food. Perfect with yellow pork or carp curry. Or a decade in the dungeon. (4.11.6)

Kanta Balhannah Riesling 2006
$28; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 92+++ points
Want a wine supergroup? Try this rizza, made at Shaw and Smith from their fruit; dreamt up by East End Cellars’ Michael Andrewartha; made by uberweinmeister Egon Muller from the mighty Scharzhofberg in the Mosel, and watched in his absence by Steve Pannell. They say it’s an improvement on the ’05, which is looking scrumptious, but I bet they’ll end up picking earlier as the vines mature. It doesn’t show much of its wild yeast and lees contact, but it’s still a yard away from many locals. It’s custard apples stewed in lime juice, screaming for spicy mullet chowder.

Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling 2008
$32.90; 11.5% alcohol; screw cap; tasted 20 FEB 09 and 7APR09; 92+++ points
“I love showing this to the French”, Peter Gago says, grinning. “Six months before their vintage, and there it is, ready to drink.” It comes from two of Penfolds’ greatest high country vineyards, Tollana Woodbury and High Eden, which are in the sandstones and schists of the High Eden Ridge, on opposite sides of Mountadam. (Having established the westernmost vineyard in the late sixties and early seventies, David Wynn eventually sold that part of Mountadam to Penfolds.) Germanic in its dry austerity, with acrid cracked stone topnotes typical of that country in summer – I can even smell the lichen - but with some matchbox sulphur and plenty of crunchy apple and juicy lime, the wine is nevertheless in perfect balance, and will live for twenty years beneath that screwie. It hasn’t budged a micron in two months.

Thorne Clarke Sandpiper Single Vineyard Eden Valley Riesling 2008
$??; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 92+++ points
Classic high Barossa rizza here, with all the austerity and dour stoicism of that stony, harsh country and its inhabitants. There’s intense citrus, mainly lemon, but a little lime, with lots of the floury aroma of the pith of such fruits, as much as their juice. It prickles the nostrils a little, making them yearn for the smell of fresh oysters, or whiting, gar or snook. Strangely, it’s one of the few wines which also makes me think of fresh green salads, with butter lettuce, celtus and endive. Refreshing, sure, but humourless and staunch, and deserving a good five or six years’ dungeon, it’s a steely wine that requires a steely attitude. JAN 08

Delatite Sylvia Upper Goulburn Riesling 2007
$22; 9% alcohol; screw cap; 92++ points
Jane Donat made this northern Victorian Riesling the old German kabinett way: picking earlier, to take better advantage of natural acidity, and leaving a little sugar unfermented, so the wine is more like the old slightly sweet spätlese styles of the ’60s and ’70s. It smells Germanic: opening with an acrid burlap edge, but with soothing layers of bathpowder, tropical fruits and honey welling below. The palate’s perfectly viscous, like litchie juice, but with crunchy AO acidity. It’d perfectly marry Fechner’s Tanunda Apex Bakery’s apricot German yeast cake at about 11am, with a sweet white tea. (9.2.8)

Petaluma Hanlin Hill Clare Valley Reisling 2009
$30; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; drunk 28 NOV - 1 DEC 09; 92++ points
Lemon pith and white pepper, with some lovely fresh-whipped lemon sabayon, maybe some musk, and estery banana whiffs are the big nose bells here. But the mouth thing is more like a quarry: somebody's spilt some lemon juice on the hot stone. This is very austere, without sensuality. Although it does let loose a tiny runaway by the time its long stiff tail has gone past: the faintest hint of fronti. And petiols. It's highly aromatic, mean-hearted rizza for the S&M lounge. You can leave your Rolexes on.
Gomersal Wines Eden Valley Riesling 2008
$??; 11.6% alcohol; screw cap; 92 points
Another Germanic style of rizza, this beauty smells like a dry spaetlese, but it couldn't have been picked late, given the heatwave blitz of 2008. It's complex with banana and fresh, uncut clingstone peach surrounding the hard podsols and schist that lie at its heart. The texture's fluffy and syrupy, but soon surrenders to a whiprod of dry stony acidity and phenolic tannins that feel a bit like licking a stone. All of which sounds unlikely for a nice drink, but that's what the man says. Coming from such a difficult vintage, it's very good traditional riesling, but not one for your cellar. Guzzle it all up before the 09 appears. FEB 09

Stefano Lubiana Alfresco Tasmania Riesling 2008
$28; 8.5% alcohol; screw cap; 92 points
Like the Pewsey Vale Prima of Louisa Rose, this wine is made without too much in the way of Germanic austerity going down. It's more after the fru fru fruity frivolity of moscato d'Asti, made and bottled to retain enough of the natural fizz of ferment to stay a little frizzante under the screw. It shows some of the harsh dry bouquet of Tassie in drought, but it's otherwise beautifully floral and fruity, not too sweet, and really fit and stroppy XXX-rated 7.9 g/l titratable acidity. As Roberto says in the Wine Expo letter, ‘neurologists will tell you that there are receptors for crack cocaine and marijuana right in your brain...well, the one for Moscato d’Asti is right between them’. I can feel my fizzy rizza receptor cells multiplying as I swallow.

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Eden Valley Riesling 2006
($20; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 92 points)
Immediately more peachy and nectarinish than many rizzas from the gardens of Eden, this wild yeast cutie is a doozy to sniff. It has the flinty edge of its source, but the bouquet tricks you into thinking there’s plush, juicy fruits to follow. Uh-huh. The palate’s strictly XXX-rated, with a tiny squirt of those Prunus fruits to relax you before the granite and schist of the vineyards suck all the water out of your eyes. Perfect now with live oysters and lime; or wait six years. (4.11.6)

Yalumba Pewsey Vale The Contours Eden Valley Riesling 2001
$26; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 92 points
The back label violins playing The Justification Of This Screw Cap trigger twisted sussness re Smiths and Yalumba and whatever other expensive brands and products Rob H-S sells under dreaded cork. Don’t he dig the intrinsic reality of this screwie almost perfectly preserving his wild high Barossa rizza? It’s at its sexiest point, where tight primary citrus begins to develop faint cheese and yoghurt hints. Chevre with fresh sage on toasted rye.

Grosset Springvale Clare Riesling 2008
$36; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 91++ points
Smelling overtly creamy and lush, like something Jurlique would make for a fair maiden’s face, this seems at first to be a gentle unction made of the white pulp of citrus petals. Gradually whiffs of citrus pith emerge, and the gentlest insinuation of strawberry. All these things are immediately evident in the flavour, which is still knocking furniture over. It’ll be more harmonious in six months, and, like the Polish Hill, will live for decades. But this has the more mealy, chalky tannin, and the more boisterously oily texture. More powder in the cleavage; more Diana Dors than Audrey Hepburn. Oyster omelette. (17 AUG 8)

Sevenhill Inigo Riesling 2008
$19; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 91 points
Not as tight and wired and promising as the amazing St Aloysius pre-release sample I tasted in December, this is a more open-hearted and approachable wine, but still a lovely drink. It's more of a peaches-and-cream riesling, with grainy summer dust and dry grasses representing the phenolics. The palate's syrupy and clean, with neat, lithe acidity, and the fur of those tannins giving support and contrast, and drawing the finish out until it dries the tongue and sets the drinker wondering about food. Considering the difficult drought vintage, it's very good wine at this price. But it reinforces my emergent theory that the rizzas of 2008, even those picked before the blistering heatwave, which were talked up to a great extent by the winemakers, and by gullible honkeys like me, are in fact not quite as good as everybody thought. They're fatter, more syrupy, and simpler than we thought when they were in the tanks: which only goes to suggest that they're the sorts of wines that would more likely satisfy drinkers who find the classic austerity of really great rieslings a bit over the top, even threatening. FEB 09

Domain Day One Serious Riesling Mt. Crawford 2007
$20; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 90+++ points
Serious indeed. There’s not much humour evident in this stony glass: it’s about as animated as a Presbyterian cemetery at midwinter. Lime blossom, but much more lime pith, fill the nose. The palate’s furry and bone dry, like more of that lime pith, but with austere hessian, carbide and schist textures overwhelming the fruit: in other words, the wine’s all bones and chassis, and bugger all upholstery. It’ll certainly last for a very long time beneath that screwie, given the right cellar, and if you’re a serious rizza nut you’ll wait. If you’re not, this ain’t your wine. (17 AUG )

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling 2008
$17.90; 11.5% alcohol; screw cap; 90++ points
Inspired by the revered 1971 Riesling Traminer Max Schubert made from Barossa and the more aromatic Hunter gewurztraminer grapes, and retro-labelled accordingly, this is 100% Adelaide Hills riesling, and is for sale through restaurants, duty-free stores, and Penfolds’ cellar door. Sharp and edgy, acrid with crunchy, chalky tannins, and stacked with limes and lemons, it’s encouraging to know it can hit restaurant lists at $25 – way below the usual Penfolds’ premium entry point. And, mark my word, this is premium wine! 20 FEB 09

Tim Gramp Watervale Clare Valley Riesling 2007
$19.50; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 90++ points
Plus signs indicate the higher points wines will earn as they mature – if properly cellared. Some 07 Clares were picked late, in the heat, and soared to syrupy, un-reisling-like alcohols. Tim picked early in his classic Watervale vineyard, with its terra rossa over calcrete. It’s all Bickfords lime to sniff, as if it needed a shot of Finlandia and a handful of ice. (Try that if you like.) But its finish is as dry and chalky as that calcrete, with a tannic palate structure more akin to an austere dry red. Great counterpoint to scallops in beurre blanc.

Jeanerret Cowboys'n'Indians Gotcha Clare Valley Riesling 2007
$10; 11.7% alcohol; screw cap; 90+ points
"The Indians will triumph!" says Ben Jeanneret on the back label of this rude baby. "The cowboys have had their day." It's the pressings of his forthcoming premium riesling, given a bit of solids ferment, lees contact and so forth and what for. It certainly rings the bells. Obviously bottled just minutes ago, it nevertheless oozes rich, smooth peaches and cream, and offers a body as creamy and plush as many a great white Burgundy, with lovely pithy, furry tannins. Stick a box in the dungeon for three or four years, try the other with curry.

Pipers Brook Vineyard Tasmania Riesling 2008
$27.50; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 90+ points
Mmm. This smells even more musky than the 08 gewurz. Musk, freesia, lemon. Some pith, but mostly juice. Very very pretty. Powdered flesh. A gentle, fluffy texture at first, then watery-but-fresh nashi pear juice, then almost abrupt mealy tannin, then lemony acidity. Hyper-cute Lolita cough cough sorta stuff. You’ll have to wait five years. You could throw her a ham and pineapple pizza in the interim, but she’d talk with her mouth full. 18 NOV 08

Grosset Springvale Clare Valley Riesling 2007
$35; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 89++ points
This is not quite the grosser Grosset I reported from the vintage tasting during Clare Gourmet. Different tank? Its mealy tannins are still there, with its edgy brimstone, and while it smells of tamarillo and peach as much as Watervale’s limes, its hearty palate seems to have a watery break about halfway through, where the texture holds, but the flavour pales. So while it’s neither here nor there right now, it should grow and bloom in the cellar. Scallops with fresh spring onions and roast mandarin peel do it proud.

Bay of Shoals Kangaroo Island Riesling 2006
$18; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 89++ points
Two years in the bottle have knocked the primary fruits of this rizza around. It’s developing the petrochem/kero/flytox secondaries which the Bratash seem to love and expect in riesling; I generally regard these characters as indicators of sunburnt grape skins from a lack of leaf canopy shade. There’s still some fleshy banana pith and peel there, but. The palate’s fresher than the bouquet indicates, it’s elegant and svelte and quite acidic, perhaps even lacking a shard of soul. And shard it would be, given this austere, humourless style. Achtung. 10 OCT 98

Howard Park Western Australia Riesling 2008
$??; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 89+ points
Soapy lemons, like the soap she who would file her nails whilst sitting on the toilet would purchase, are abundant here. And very stiff acidity. But not a lot of humour or life. It tastes like it was shot, not picked. It's just very stiff, humourless riesling. If you want a lack of humour, leave it to the German community of the Eden Valley. At least their vines giggle when the shotgun's pointing at them. MAR 09

D’Arenberg The Stump Jump 2006
($12.95; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 88 points
Chester Osborne’s a wicked pixie. He blends this, annually, from parcels of whichever varieties most happily marry at the time. Like pressings and stuff. This one’s a bright brew of riesling, sauvignon, rousanne and marsanne. It’s amazing quality for the price – if it were a MaggieR sem-sav it’d be over $20. And indeed it resembles one of those, with the best of their crunch and cleansing acidity, but with the lovely sliminess of top pinot gris. Whole garfish on the char. (6.1.7)

Ten Miles East Adelaide Hills Riesling 2008

$??; 12.4% alcohol; screw cap; 87++ points
This is the new brand of heritage architect John Greenshields, who has moved his winemaking focus to Norton Summit, ten miles east of the centre of Adelaide. He had been a partner in the grand old Koppamurra Vineyard near Coonawarra, which Brian Croser now owns under his Tapanappa brand, which is a geological group absolutely nothing like the limestone beneath the vineyard, which Crose now calls Whalebone. But that's in the past now, and this is a very clean, pristine sort of wine, confidently holding its ground somewhere between simple naivete and stoic austerity. It has a fair acrid prickle for such a junior, and seems as appley as the Auldwood Cider orchard that was there before this vineyard was planted. We used to buy Blue Moose - a sweet sparkling cider died blue - there in the 'seventies, and drink it on the rocks with Cointreau. Shee-it. This wine is just a hint at what this vineyard will produce as it matures. I wonder if Croser eventually finds a Blue Moose bone somewhere. JAN 09

Pewsey Vale Prima Eden Valley Riesling 2008
$25; 9.5% alcohol; glass stopper; 87++ points
For Prima, winemaker Louisa Rose was inspired by a 1979 Pewsey riesling she tasted at a Yalumba retrospective in 1997: with 10% alcohol and 20g/l of sugar, sealed with a screwie, it fascinated her with its fresh, balanced nature "and gorgeous fruit intensty". So this is the second vintage made with that goal in mind. With the glass stopper, it should age very well. But it seems awkward now, neither here nor there, with simple banana perfume, light sweetness and very stiff, if balanced acidity. It reminds me more of moscato d'Asti, senza frizzante, than it does the German spaetlese that obviously inspired the original style. 09 MAR 09

Rookery Kangaroo Island Riesling 2008
$19.50; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 86++ points
Without tasting the vineyard rock, I’d suggest it’s schisty. This is more Eden Valley in style than the calcrete and terra rossa Watervales. It’s tight, limy, vibrantly fresh, and will need to sit in the cellar for twenty years to develop the slightest hint of approachability. It’s just so humourless and staunch, I dunno. I kept yearning for a touch of botrytis. 10 OCT 98

Yalumba Y Series Riesling 2008
$13; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 86 points
Rob Hill Smith came over all enamoured with single-letter brands after the great “Y” dinner I referred to in my recent piece on Kevin Judd leaving Cloudy Bay on DRINKSTER. First it was Yalumba “D”, after the late late great grate Kit Stevens MW had seduced HRH-S into a deal with Champagne Deutz. We used to call that fizz - which never got close to Deutz, even the Kiwi version - “D cup”, dreaming of bigger and better things. Now Rob’s dropped his guard completely to copy d’Yquem’s dry sauvignon blanc moniker, “Y”. How friggin dull and unadventurous and sneaky is that? He sells d’Yquem’s “Y” for $685 a bottle, and this for $13, before the hounds discount it. The wine deserves better. Yalumba’s been going for 159 years, for Bacchus’s sake. It don’t need to copy nobody. Especially with a cheapy like this: it has a tight riesling bouquet, a little forward - but that’s after the hottest, quickest vintage in SA history – and simple, but only in a lime juice sort of way, and that’s what rizza’s all about, no, already? The palate’s a bit on the capeweed side of citrus, but so is Peter Lehmann’s great show wine from 2002, reviewed above. Which Rob also distributes. Mmm. Given the vintage, Andrew la Nauze, who made this, deserves a $25,000 raise.

Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2008
$18; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 85+ points
Simple lemon-scented riesling, with slightly soapy wax, and cute citrus florals, like this one, is a staple partner for the delicate garfish and King George whiting that race about the fizzy waters off the South Australian coast. The wine is delicate to the point of shyness, with a simple nashi pear flavour structure, and just a whiff of the dry hard dirt in which it grew. 09 MAR 09

Peter Lehmann Barossa Riesling 2008
$13.50; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 83 points
Considering you can buy this discounted well below this silly price - three pots of beer! - it's a fair dinkum bargain for a good white of any sort, let alone a dinkum Barossa riesling. It smells a little of petiols, perhaps from mechanical harvesting, which tends to pick a lot of leaf material with the grapes, but there's still heaps of dry limy appetiser in there. 09 MAR 09

Yalumba Heggie’s Eden Valley Riesling 2008
$??; 11.5% alcohol; screw cap; 82+ points
A little shy at first pour, this is certainly not one to chill too deeply. Lemon leaves and verbena are the first notes to stir; the juice of said fruit then begins to emerge, and then some teasing hints of the blossoms of the citrus family. The overpowering whoof to me, however, is the bone dry smell of the broke rocks of that high Barossa country. Maybe the rock doctor in me seeks that stuff first; there’s certainly plenty of fruit after the geology. But it’s a drink, and in the mouth there’s short things and curt, plenty of the dusty rock hard work stuff, and then a tease of Bickford’s Lime juice cordial with a shot of the same manufacturer’s Lime and Bitter Lemon. Better in five years.

Lucien Albrecht Alsace Reserve Riesling 2006
$??: 12% alcohol; synthetic plug; 80 points
Stewed, fat and full of ripe estery tropicals, this is not riesling from, say, Clare, or the high Barossa. More like a white version of a huge Barossa shiraz grenache blend, so full be its stuffness. And at 12%? Seems hardly possible...what’s the point? From Orschwihr, at the sunniest, southernmost stretch of Alsace’s wine fields, it’s like a lychee/passionfruit/mango/pawpaw juice with little acidity but a scratch of dry chalky tannin. You’d be laughed at if you released a riesling like this in Clare. But maybe not in Barmera. Good for fatty, weed-eating freshwater fish, smoked with chilli and mayo.

Wicks Estate Adelaide Hills Riesling 2008
$15; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 79++ points
This riesling was grown, then made. Why? I can’t tell. It has a light soapy smell, which many great rieslings have, but when they have it, it’s lost in a lot of other stuff. Like limes, and citrus flowers, which this has a little of. But this has no stone. If it was German, and it had no stone, it would have botrytis, which this doesn’t have. It’s a bit like the rizzas Orlando made in the ’sixties and ’seventies. People loved ’em.JAN 09

Shaw and Smith Adelaide Hills Riesling 2008
$22; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 78 points
After all those centuries slaving away for the mighty Brian Croser at Petaluma, you’d expect Martin Shaw to know his way round a tank of riesling. This one smells of guano and hessian – superphosphate sacks in other words – and seems more along the lines of Ernie Loosen’s Pfalz rizza than much Australian. Then again, it could be really crunchy chenin blanc, on the nose alone. But it tastes like peanut butter. Put it down to the hellfire and brimstone of 2008.

Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling 2005
$32; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 73 points
I was showing two heavy Victorian winemakers my Barossa in about ’88. For max shock, I brought ’em in over the ridge from the east, off the Trial Hill Road through the back of the world famous Steingarten, which Colin Gramp planted with the aid of dynamite in 1962. We arrived in time to stop the slaves cutting the last vines off at the roots with der uber-efficient hydraulic schnippsches. Thrashed the 390 Val down to Gunter Prass’s office at Orlando and got that stopped. Now it’s owned by the Frogs, and Bruce Theile’s dead, so they use the Steingarten name on anything. And this could be anything. Man, it could be Koonunga Hill. (16.2.8)

No comments:

Post a Comment