Lark Hill Riesling 2011 (Canberra District)
11.5%, Screwcap, $30
If ever there was an Australian advertisement for the benefits of biodynamics (and attentive viticulture) it lies in this Riesling, a wine which – lazarus like – looks very fine, even in the face of a vintage that the Carpenter family (who founded and run Lark Hill) themselves describe as ‘challenging’.
Much of the credit for this over-performance must lie with the viticulture, the Lark Hill vineyard having now been run biodynamically since 2003 (fully certified in 2008) and meticulously maintained by the Carpenters. Indeed Chris Carpenter believes that the 2011 vintage was the ‘year of the tractor’ as he spent so much time on it applying the requisite sprays and biodynamic preparations.
All that attention seems to have worked in this wines favour, for you’d be hard picked to really call this a challenging wine – it tastes of a cool year but carries none of the hard acidity that many 11 SA Rieslings show.
What I find most intriguing – and I think it’s heavily influenced by how much Austrian wines I’ve been drinking – is that it could easily slip into a lineup of Wachau Rieslings and hold it’s own. I’m not sure if that is what Chris and family are aiming for but I really rather like it.
On that note it smells intriguing too – cool and peppery and grapefruit/lemony but with a hint of richness and aftershave perfume lying beneath too. I hate to use the term, but no shaking that salty minerality in there too.
The palate similarly shows lemon/grapefruit, citrus and pithiness, it toys with ripe weightiness through the mid palate before becoming leaner and very tight through the long, very firn, naturally acidic finish. Again that long minerality drives through the finish and has you wanting more. In fact, it looks just a fraction lean for that matter, the nerviness suggesting that this wines best is still some months (and years to come) away. No fear in holding on to this, if even just for 6 months more.
Ultimately this is a wine of seriously high quality and interest, a Riesling of detail and finesse. Gold medal wine from a barely bronze medal (for many wineries) vintage. 18.5/94