Thursday, 9 February 2012

Pewsey Vale Special Spätlese Rhine Riesling 1979

1979 Pewsey Vale Special Spatlese Riesling
Pewsey Vale Special Spätlese Rhine Riesling 1979 (Eden Valley, SA)
10% alc, Screwcap, $?
Source: The Yalumba cellars

What a pleasure it is to open a vinous treasure like this one. It was cracked late on Saturday night as part of the Summer of Riesling celebrations and came directly from the Yalumba cellars (with big thanks to Louisa Rose).

It is two factors that make this wine so remarkable though: Firstly the condition of the wine for it's age (which was exceptional, helped by outstanding cellar conditions no doubt, but still noteable) and secondly for the choice of closure, for this was sealed with a screwcap, even though it was produced some 20 years before the mainstream usage of such seals on Australian wines, in a period that we can only describe as somewhat visionary (in the closure scheme of things).

Unlike some of those early screwcaps (which have an odd combination of cork and metal screwcap) too, this '79 Pewsey had a straight lined metal cap in a fashion not unlike the screwcaps of 2012 (just check out the second picture below).  

Unsurprisingly perhaps, this wine is like a much older version the Pewsey Vale Prima Riesling of today (this '79 is considered to be the inspiration for the Prima by the way) and this wine is is thought to have a similar sugar level of about 20g/l residual sugar, having been picked deliberately early to create an off dry wine of some concentration and sweetness.

The '79 screwcap. Modelled here by
2011 GFG Sommelier of the Year Stu Knox
Whilst it is now a 33 year old wine, in the glass this '79 was still vital and alive too, a Riesling of quince and lime fruit characters on the nose with some marmalade like sweetness over the top. There's no questioning that this is an old wine true, with a nose that is very much in the secondary, developed end of the spectrum, showing bready lime toast and a hint of mothball decay.

There is, however, no mistaking the honeyed off dry fruit in there though, a fruit character carried forward on to the palate with a sugar pumped, orange marmalade richness that curiously tasted rich but not super sweet. That fatness is just a little stunted perhaps, the wine finishing just a little short in the scheme of things. Again however it's varietal and authentically region, even carrying a whiff of rocky, slatey Eden characters in there for good measure.

Strictly speaking I couldn't really drink too much of this Pewsey, purely because of the slightly arid decay and acidity through the finish. I could however appreciate it for what it was - a ridiculously solid Australian Riesling that is still impressing even after 33 years. Let's only hope that the modern Prima's go the same way...

More Riesling glory

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