Close followers of this site will know how popular Riesling is on this site, even to the point where I’ve been accused of having a ‘Riesling bias’.
I’ll wear that with pride.
So, to continue the Riesling love-fest, let me present no fewer than 13 current release 2022 vintage Riesling that I’ve enjoyed recently, plus one aged wonder for good measure.
There’s a reason why so many of these 2022 wines hit the mark too. Across south-eastern Australia, the cool, seriously wet La Niña summer meant that the harvest was normal to late, the heat never hit, and natural acidity was high. For Riesling, this often meant an extra level of energy, although sacrificing some generosity in the process. I’m generalising, sure, but it’s a consistent theme. Meanwhile, for the Graham household here in Sydney, 2022 meant a flooded garage (in the photo below, you can see a foot of water. There isn’t meant to be water here) and a genuinely shit time.
Over in Western Australia, by contrast, it was just another very warm summer, and the squad of top Riesling below from WA rate so highly because Harewood, Castle Rock etc, make really good Riesling every year.
Looking forward, 2023 looks like a classic Riesling vintage for SE Australia, too, although not without challenges from yet another La Niña summer. It’s a ‘normal’ to ‘late’ harvest in many places (complete some nervous constant baume checking in some locations), although that probably pushes harvests back to dates that would have been considered ‘normal’ 30-40 years ago (thanks climate change).
Anyway, enough context, let’s look at some wines.
Harewood Estate Denmark Riesling 2022
Every year the question is more about which Harewood sub-regional release is best, and this year it’s a close thing between this Denmark release and the Porongurup below. I think I prefer the Porongurup marginally, but not much in it. This is an excellent, expressive, yet tight Riesling. There is this juiciness, a real juicy citrus intensity, but it’s more grapefruit than, say, the Limefinger below. A little celery and white flowers too. Celery and white flower aromatics, but also flavour and ripe, rather than hard acidity. Just so much punchiness, and yet you step back and admire it as a crisp, lithe white wine. Best drinking: good now. 18.5/20, 94/100. 12.5%, $35. Would I buy it? Yes.
Harewood Estate Porongurup Riesling 2022
By contrast, this is a fresher, less dense, more frisky expression with an extra zip of juicy grapefruit. This is a quality wine – the sense of lightness, but this bangs on with this crunchy green grapefruit fruit and perfect acidity. The Denmark release has more mid-palate punch, but this feels like the complete package. Best drinking: I prefer this style now. 18.5/20, 94/100. 12.5% $35. Would I buy it? Yes.
Castle Rock Estate A & W Riesling 2022
Rob Diletti has done some winery tinkering (oh, and you can read my profile of Rob here) with the A & W Riesling, although it’s not reinventing the wheel (in Alsace, this would be normal winemaking). That translates to ferments that include some solids and matured for six months on lees, which is slightly different from the usual winemaking mode (which typically sees clean juice fermented and bottled quickly). With a big 9.4g/L TA and a pH of 2.9, this was always going to be a firm beast, and what do you know? Chewy too. Powerful but sour is one vibe. It’s not even ‘fruity’ either, which will scare some people. But you know what? Forget looking for fruits and admire the structure. It’s a compact and savoury style that deals more in the mouthfeel than aromatics with this chewy phenolic sort of grapefruit pith palate. It’s brooding Riesling but so enjoyable in its length and power, and presence. I like that shape so much. Still, I’d come back later for peak drinking, as it’s just a bit brutal now. Best drinking: probably later. Give it three years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 11.5%, $42. Would I buy it? Yes.
Limefinger The Solace Polish Hill River Riesling 2022
Limefinger is Neil Pike’s retirement project, although I’d be pretty happy if I was still making wines like this in my retirement! It’s such a powerhouse wine, too – unmistakable Clare Riesling, but with that extra wash of stony bracing citrus that Polish Hill River delivers. Despite sitting at just 11% alcohol, it has plenty of lemony power. Maybe a bit more green pea this year? It certainly has the acid power (and at just pH 2.77, the numbers say that too). Such presence, though. What I really like about both these Limefinger wines is the acidity – even compared to the 12 other Riesling in this selection, Neil Pike’s wines seem to have this naturalness, this unfettered purity which is so appealing. Best drinking: I like this now. 18.5/20, 94/100. 11%, $39.50 direct from Limefinger. Would I buy it? Yes.
Harewood Estate Tunney Riesling 2022
We’re now down in the Tunney Vineyard in Frankland River for this Harewood release. James Kellie (Harewood winemaker) must do a few km every year as the Great Southern is a huge region too! Grapefruit and lemongrass with a little cucumber is what this Riesling smells like. It’s not unripe, though – there’s a bit of melon in that crunch. It’s quite an expressive thing. Makes it quite moreish. It’s a lovely wine, even if it doesn’t quite have the x-factor of the Denmark/Porongurup releases. Best drinking: go now. 18/20, 93/100. 12.5%, $35. Would I buy it? Still yes.
Howard Park Riesling 2022
Great Southern fruit here again. Still super tight – grapefruit and celery but intense in its grapefruit drive. It slips into acidity pretty quickly, but gee, super intensity. The Howard Park Riesling always looks good as an aged release, and I feel like this formative thing only needs time to be a star. Best drinking: give it four years. 18/20, 93/100+. 12.5%, $35. Would I buy it? Yes, for the cellar.
Limefinger The Learnings Watervale Riesling 2022
Sourced from Watervale, and it’s a little more forward compared to the blinding Polish Hill. A little talc, more lemon than really limey, the nose is just a bit more forward this vintage – just a little hay. But the understated palate and sheer perfection of the tight yet welcoming acidity is just great. Nice wine. best drinking: good now. 18/20, 93/100. 12%, $39.50.
Longview Macclesfield Riesling 2022
I like the Longview Macclesfield range. So many smart wines, and across different varieties too. Lovely crunchy vibrant stuff with this Riesling, too. It’s just a bit subdued, with a real coolness, a real grapefruit coolness it is. There is the perfect combo of snappy citrus and just-ripe form to it. Really good, lean and lovely Adelaide Hills Riesling. Best drinking: now. 18/20, 93/100. 12%, $30. Would I buy it? Yes.
Mesh Riesling 2022
The last few vintages of Mesh have been a bit unfocused in my mind, but this is probably the best Mesh in some years. It’s a whole lot of Eden Valley Riesling, with a chewy, weighty palate the star performer. Melon, lemongrass, power not subtlety, with the most intense deep green fruit. Talc and lemon. Admirable intensity. Maybe needs a little more definition to finish, but not much in it. Best drinking: now. 18/20, 93/100. 12.5%, $30. Would I buy it? Yes.
Castle Rock Estate Riesling 2022
The original Castle Rock Riesling and always impressive. Overflowing with grapefruit intensity this vintage, but I see this as just a bit more forward than the norm. The bright and crisp green melon citrus palate is such pleasant upfront drinking, though. Enjoyable. Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 11.5%, $30. Would I buy it? Yes.
Shaw + Smith Riesling 2022
I had this latest S & S Riesling sitting in the fridge for about three days, barely budging. Oh yeah, it’s tight. Fruit from vineyards in Mt Torrens & Lenswood. It’s all celery and grapefruit. Taut sort of palate too – it gives away nothing. That’s a challenge, too – it’s too taut and lean, which means you’re reaching for more flavour. Long and finessed, though, with green apple grapefruit through the finish. Quality, if just a little more severe this year. Wine for the patient. Best drinking: maybe later this year for a start? It’s not going anywhere. 17.7/20, 92/100+. 12.5%, $36. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Kirrihill Regional Series Riesling 2022
Bang on for inexpensive Clare Riesling. Lime juicy palate is slightly phenolic and has some nice limey soapy generous flavour, though it does get a bit leaner as it travels along. Perfectly sufficient acidity at this price. An easy recommendation for the dollars, especially given that I’ve seen this for circa $16 a bottle. Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12.5%, $19. Would I buy it? Worth a few glasses.
Longhop Ravine Riesling 2022
I’ve not seen a Longhop Adelaide Hills Riesling. Sourced from Forreston in the Adelaide Hills. Crunchy lemony green fruit that heads towards celery. Fresh if lean and light. Snappy finish, just a bit too acidic, but freshhh! And a steal at $17.99 in retail land. Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12.5%, $25. Would I buy it? Also worth a few glasses.
It’s not a 2022 vintage release, but I loved this:
Pewsey Vale The Contours Museum Release Riesling 2016
Great wines so often have this multifaceted nature that hooks you in. Now, at seven years old, this Eden Valley Riesling has that – on one look, there is golden toast and grilled nuts. Yet the next sip, it’s a ball of tight lime juice and acidity. What will you get next? The mouthfilling richness buts up against the citrus, and both give such intensity. It’s maybe a more forward vintage of Contours, but such flavour width and yet with exactly the right amount of acidity. Yes yes yes. Best drinking: lovely now. 18.7/20, 95/100. 12.5%, $40. Would I buy it? At $40 it’s a no-brainer. Go get some.
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