|Grosset Off Dry|
$28, Screwcap, 11.5%
Source: Cellar Door
It's something of a controversial wine this, but not for the usual reasons. Rather, the reason why it's controversial is because of what it's not. Or at least what it says it's not.
And that's dry.
For this wine is the first ever commercial release of an 'off dry' Grosset Riesling, the first time ever that the man that many would regard as the finest maker of Riesling in Australia, has produced a Clare Valley Rizza with some deliberate residual sweetness.
And I think he's nailed it.
What's not said is that whilst this is the first ever commercial release, it's the third time Jeff has attempted to make an off dry Grosset Riesling. It's just that previously he's never been happy enough to let it out to the big bad world.
So what's it like then?
Well, what needs to be considered is that although it's labeled 'off dry', it only contains 15 grams a litre of residual sugar, which then matches up perfectly to a massive 8 grams a litre of acidity. In German Riesling terms that sweetness level would get it into feinherb - off dry - territory, as per the label, but on the IRF's sweetness scale that would only get it to 'medium dry', a class which (perhaps) better describes this wine than 'off dry' (or does it?).
It's important to note that total acidity figure for, in my opinion at least, it's acid that really drives this wine. You can smell the sweetness on the nose - with that whiff of fruit tingles - and taste it too, with the soft, almost creamy, pineapple edge that comes from residual sugar. But it's just that - an edge, a tint, an afterthought. You never think 'hey this tastes like sugar'. Rather, all you can think is 'more please', for the extra generosity just offsets a little of the impact of the razor wire acidity, stampeding as it does through the finish, burning off any suggestion of sugary 'fat' and leaving you with a lingering, acidic warmth and proper long limey aftertaste in the process.
More-so, what I really like is just how intensely Clare this really is. The biggest challenge that many sweeter style Australian Rieslings face is that they tend to get a little bland when the sugar is retained. They lose their edge, their regionality and just taste, well, like sugary Riesling. But this doesn't. It tastes and smells like a pure Grosset Clare Riesling, with that explosive limey intensity (in this case edged with melon) that few others ever seem to consistently match.
Truth be told, I don't think it's as 'rockstar' good as the 2010 Polish Hill Riesling, and may not necessarily be better than the 'Springvale', but I can tell you that I really enjoyed drinking every last sip, and I'd wager that few other Clare Rieslings would get close for drinkability and charm at this stage of life. Others may not agree, but after enjoying this on two different occasions I'm absolutely convinced. It didn't budge over two days either this time around (though the just-bottled banana ferment esters did dissolve into the wine) suggesting that it might well live and evolve with some interest in the cellar.
I'm a Riesling fan, and a Grosset Riesling fan at that, but even with my one eye closed I can tell you this is seriously fine booze. Well done. 18.5/94