‘Arguably the best value variety from Australia in decades’
That’s the Decanter opinion on Australian dry Riesling, a wine that – despite endless coaxing from wine writers, sommeliers, retailers and producers – continues to not grow in popularity.
Exactly why that is comes down to a bunch of issues, much of which centre on Riesling’s not-just-sweet-anymore identity crisis.
Seriously, everyone expects that drinkers ‘know’ that most Australian Riesling is dry and delicious, when in fact they wouldn’t have a clue. In many drinkers eyes Riesling is a foreign object. A sweet foreign object.
Anyway, that’s not going to change any time soon, so in the meantime lets sing the praises of how good Riesling can be in a bid to at least get things rolling.
This little bracket of wines was almost uniformly drinkable and enjoyable, a hit rate that I just don’t see in other varieties. The value is exquisite too, a nod to what everyone is missing out on. Let’s all drink more Riesling!
Abbey Creek Vineyard Porongurup Riesling 2015
Beautiful part of the world, with great wines. Great! Bloody isolated though, which is why I haven’t been to the Porongurups for a good seven or eight years. Must get there. This Abbey Creek Riesling is exactly what you want/expect from the better wines. Water clear, I love the aromatics here – pure Great Southern Riesling with blossom and grapefruit citrus. Very dry and chalky palate has serious grip but lift and life too. There is just a little of the tangerine cream of warmer year Great Southern (which can sometimes be distracting) but otherwise great freshness and sparkling water like freshness. Yum. Best drinking: 2016-2030. 18/20, 93/100. 12.5%, $25. Would I buy it? Yes.
Robert Stein Mudgee Riesling 2015
Jacob Stein is doing very good things in Mudgee, and particularly with Riesling. This has a little sweetness for balance, with a portion left on skins and fermented wild. Mix it up! Zippy, full and citrusy palate has melon and grapefruit, the fullness just a bit disarming – it’s hardly a classic, lime and slate Aus Riesling. But it’s so long and full though, the palate carrying an awful lot of flavour. Enjoyable weighty style, this is so welcome and clever. Best drinking: 2016-2026. 18/20, 93/100. 13%, $25. Would I buy it? I’d definitely drink a few glasses.
Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling 2015
Richmond Grove Watervale is back! Welcome back welcome back welcome back! It opens with just a little (normal) spritz, before an intensely limey, classic Watervale nose. Big tick. Full and chunky lime juice palate has great intensity, if just a bit broad and full, the acid soft. A return to form for this wine with great, long limey flavours (though maybe a little broad). Best drinking: 2016-2024. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.6%, $22.99. Would I buy it? Several glasses would do nicely.
Pipers Brook Tasmania Riesling 2015
A powerhouse! A Riesling that is so hardcore that it should have it’s own groupies, the acid high, the coiled, intense and deeply chewy palate holding so so much latent power. If anything, it’s just a bit abrasive right now, the structure overwhelming the flavour. Gee it should be good in time though! Best drinking: 2018-2035. 17.7/20, 92/100+. 13%, $34. Would I buy it? Might be worth a bottle for the cellar.
Mud House The Mound Vineyard Waipara Riesling 2014
A ‘medium dry’ Riesling, this is one of Mud House’s single vineyard wines. Water green, with juicy green melon and sherbet, it smells much sweeter than the palate, which has some of that pineapple sweetness but backed up by good grip to finish. Good intensity here, with the sweetness balance solid (if not quite perfect) helping make for a pretty decent wine. Best drinking: 2016-2021. 17.5/20, 91/100. 11.5%. Would I buy it? Just a glass would do.
Robert Stein Half Dry Mudgee Riesling 2015
Festooned with Mudgee wine show awards and deserving – Jacob Stein knows his Riesling. Handpicked and whole bunch pressed, 20% went through wild ferment and matured in old barrels. Water clear, the nose is subtle and light, the palate a delicate duel between grapefruit acidity and the lime juice/green lolly of residual sweetness. I like the balance here between sugar and acid – quite masterful – but I can’t resolve how that sugar rounds off the (welcome) angles of acidity. Clever all the same. Best drinking: 2016-2022. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12%, $40. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Raidis Estate Coonawarra Riesling 2015
Plenty of simple pleasure here. Sherbet, talc and cooked lime on the nose, the palate quite thick, again with cooked limes, a fleshy generosity and broad finish. Plenty of width here if little delicacy, it’s a friendly wine and rather grows on you. Very likeable. 17/20, 90/100. 11.5%, $20. Would I buy it? Maybe not, but recommended.
Rockliffe Single Site Mount Barker Riesling 2015
Such a contrast to the Abbey Creek. Water clear, the nose is all compact grapefruit with just a little citrus. Dry and chalky palate has biting, chalky acidity and a linear flow. Intensely acid driven style but probably too much so, to the point of hardness. Intense though. Best drinking: 2019-2020. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 11.5%, $35. Would I buy it? Not quite.
Alkoomi White Label Late Harvest Great Southern Riesling 2015
Intrigued how much of this sells. Would be a tricky wine to market methinks as it is neither sweet or dry. Water clear, the nose is a combo of stern grapefruit juice meets Froot Loop sweetness, the palate tart and tense but with plenty of sweetness too. It’s actually a pretty well balanced wine, the high acid working nicely with the sweetness. It’s only very light and a singular thing, but the craft is pretty good. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 16/20, 87/100. 10%, $15. Would I buy it? No.
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I also tried the Abbey Creek recently and loved it. Provably even more than you did. A hard wine to find though unless you go direct.