|The Riesling brothers in action outside Fix St James|
This week marks the start of the Summer of Riesling (#summerofriesling on twitter), a season long celebration of all things Riesling (and Riesling related) that is aimed at building a greater love and understanding of this truly noble grape via a series of tastings, dinners and other events.
The drivers of this Riesling lovefest are the dynamic Riesling duo of Fix St James proprietor (and Sommelier of the Year) Stuart Knox and wine distributor (and the only person I know who has Riesling instead of blood) Jason Hoy, with the pair building upon the good work of Summer of Riesling founder Paul Grieco (of Terroir wine bar in New York) to help push the Riesling cause evern further.
Now in it's second association season locally (check out some snippets from last year), the movement (it's actually now a not-for-profit) this year is noticeably bigger, brighter and more professional than 2011, with the initiative now pushed along by more events, more wines and, most importantly, more Riesling focused merchandise...
To kick off proceedings (and showcase the new merch) the association is hosting 4 nights of intensive Summer of Riesling tastings this week, with each night deliberately dedicated to a different part of the Australian Riesling world (bar Thursday when the rest of the globe gets a look in). So far that has meant a night of South Australian Riesling (Monday) and West Australian and Victorian Riesling (Tuesday), with NSW, ACT and Tasmanian Riesling to follow Wednesday evening.
Whilst I've thus been lucky to sample 70+ wines over the last few nights, I haven't actually been taking comprehensive notes (what sort of a writer am I? Shit!) so actually coming up with too many highlights is more challenging than expected. However I did manage to jot down a few notable gooduns'. I'm going to list them here in point form, purely for ease of notation.
- Jim Barry Florita Riesling 2011 - Shitloads of acidity but for the patient it should evolve well.
- Jim Barry Botrytis Riesling 2011 - The Barry's clearly did well for the year. Sweetness balance spot on.
- Pikes 'The Merle' Riesling 2011 - As above but with the acid toned down half a notch. Very good length too.
- Pewsey Vale 'The Contours' Riesling 2006 - Delicious. Everything you'd want in a 6yr old Eden Rizza. Toasty, long and dry. Wonderful.
- Vinteloper Odeon Riesling 2011 - Dave's a mate so I'll accept the bias, this did look much more palatable than most though. The particular bottle did look a fraction oaky too which was interesting (though not intrusive). Definitely a year where the extra winery 'work' helped build texture and drinkability.
Western Australia and Victoria
|A prime pair from Porongurup|
- Castle Rock Riesling 2011 - Wonderful. Crunchy (too crunchy for some) crystalline acidity and citrus power. Superb.
- Abbey Rock Riesling 2011 - As above but with slightly less acidity and more florals. Another winner.
- Frankland Estate Netley Road Riesling 2011 - In truth either this or the Poison Hill was my wine of tasting. The Netley Road won purely on the back of it's spicy edge. Classic Australian dry Rizza. Get some.
- Mac Forbes RS19 Riesling 2011 - A Strathbogie number and what an unusual beast. Gherkins, dill, whitebait on the nose and a deft dance of residual sugar to match that just ripe acidity. Intrigue! Polarising wine though.
- The Story Henty Riesling 2011 - Minty and only just ripe, this is another unusual wine but also rather refreshing, the finish surprisingly soft considering the vintage. Entirely drinkable and interesting.
Whilst both lists are the same size, there's no question the South Australian lineup was a struggle, largely because of the challenges of some of the 2011 vintage wines. So many tough and overly dry Rieslings. So much hard malic acidity, hints of rot and flat wines, particularly from the Eden Valley. Ouch.
By contrast I only picked a few highlights in the WA list but suffice to say there were many more strong 2011 Great Southern Rieslings, with Larry Cherubino and Howard Park also lobbing up with good wines. As a result - if pressed - I'd be heading west for my drinking rizzas this year, for the WA examples looked endlessly more palatable (out of 2011 at least). In the longer run I think the more balanced '11 Clare wines in particular should deliver, but it's a Riesling mindfield...
More Riesling to follow in the coming weeks...