5 Shades of Riesling
Almost every wine pundit in the world puts Riesling somewhere near the top of their ‘favourite variety’ list. And that’s no surprise. When it’s good, it’s mind-bendingly, mouth-wateringly, “get-me-a-pint-glass-of-this” good.
In terms of versatility, Riesling is king amongst grapes. If the fruit is good, you can do almost anything (or nothing) to it and come out with something thirst-crushing and delicious.
There’s a myriad of styles of Riesling being produced in Australia currently. From mouth-puckeringly dry to sweet and voluptuous, clean, cloudy, and everything in between. Here’s a little shorthand guide to help you find the Riesling that’s right for you.
When made in the simplest of ways, Riesling is the Glenn McGrath of wine: all about line and length. The ‘classic’ Australian Riesling is dry, tight and linear as a young wine. A coiled spring of lemon and lime flavours with a rapier thrust of acidity. The ultimate match for seafood fresh off the boat. Look to the Clare and Eden Valleys, Canberra District and Great Southern in WA for these classic stylings.
- 2017 Adelina Polish Hill River Riesling (Clare Valley, SA)
- 2017 Nick O’leary Riesling (Canberra District, NSW)
- 2017 Frankland Estate Riesling (Great Southern, WA)
The Sweeter Side
Many of the most exceptional Rieslings on the planet come with a little residual sugar (R/S) but it’s taken Australian vignerons a while to get a hold of the style. Now you can find quite a few top-notch Australian Rieslings in the off-dry to sweet spectrum. The key is always balance with these wines. Walk that tightrope of sweetness and acidity right and you have the perfect foil for spicy Asian-influenced dishes. Floral, silky and sublime.
- 2017 Rieslingfreak Off Dry No. 5 Riesling (Clare Valley, SA)
- 2017 Mac Forbes RS 19 Riesling (Strathboogie Ranges, VIC)
- 2016 Heroes Vineyard Riesling (Geelong, VIC)
For the more adventurous drinker, Riesling made with skin contact is going to be right up your alley. The natural acidity of the variety cuts through the crunchy tannins that come with skin contact or ‘amber’ winemaking. Riesling made well in this style retains its focus and drive, keeping the wine vibrant and gluggable to the last drop.
- 2017 Brave New Wine Sunshine and Hercules (Great Southern, WA)
- 2016 Garagiste Cotier Riesling (Mornington Peninsula, VIC)
- 2016 Mallaluka Riesling (Canberra District, NSW)
Eggs, Clay and Wood
The effect of differing fermenting vessels on Riesling can be fairly extreme. The influence of barrels; big and small, old and young, can have huge impact. At its best, oak influence lends palate weight and softens the blistering acidity of Riesling in its youth. Likewise, fermenting in ceramic egg or clay amphora brings another level of texture and detail to the wine. Sometimes the influence will be subtle, but it can elevate Riesling to a new stratosphere when handled sensitively.
- 2017 Best’s Foudre Ferment Riesling (Great Western, VIC)
- 2017 Ravensworth Riesling (Canberra District, NSW)
- 2016 Brash Higgins R/SM (McLaren Vale, SA)
Loves a Threesome
Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer are great mates with Riesling. They get along famously in a blend. The usual story goes: Riesling brings the backbone, Gewurz brings the perfume and Gris brings the luscious mouthfeel. When these three party in a blend, devastatingly delicious wines can be produced. Uber refreshing, perfumed and versatile.
- 2017 Vignerons Schmolzer & Brown (Beechworth, VIC)
- 2017 Mada Blanc
- 2017 La Violetta U Rock Dots (Great Southern, WA)
So, the variety of possibilities with Riesling are virtually limitless. And each potentially more scrumptious than the last. Go forth, seek them out and become a part of the Riesling revolution!