|Xabregas Artisan Riesling|
11.9%, Screwcap, $31
Now here is some excitement: Whilst Paul Hogan and Martin Cooper at Xabregas are unashamedly pushing the Xabregas Riesling style in an off-dry direction (and doing it with some success), this utterly dry wine remains - to my tastes - the most interesting wine in the range.
What sets it apart is as much about how it was made as to how the wine tastes. For this wine is produced in a fashion that is, to put it simply, rather different to most Australian Riesling. More specifically it's actually crafted somewhat like a Chardonnay, the juice pressed firmly, naturally fermented in barrels and matured on gross lees for 5 months in barrel. It's then transferred to tank where it spends a further 8 months on fine lees (and stirred along the way).
The net result from all this Chardonnay style 'work' is that the wine has richness, it has weight, it shows oak influence and has a lees driven, textural roundness. Yet at no time is it anything but Riesling - a Fumé Blanc-esque, artifice heavy wine this ain't . Much of that has to be credited with the fruit at the core of course, fruit that is firmly acidic, dry and grapefruity. Proper Riesling fruit. Fruit that if it wasn't in this setting would probably look rather hard and angular. Indeed even here it's a subdued beast, nothing overt and hardly a generous wine (which is not going to please all).
Yet it still just looks right, the additional viscosity and mouthfilling richness helping to iron out the firm edges, much like what residual sweetness does in other Rieslings (and what the Xabregas intention is with the rest of the range. Or at least the perceived intention).
Ultimately this wine is a Riesling for thought - why make off-dry and awkward when you can make dry and complex? I know what I'd take - this wine, this long, citrussy, textured, acidic, creamy, multi-faceted Riesling of intrigue and more. It's hardly a seductive wine, but it's an intelligant one. Yes. 18.3/93+