For many NSW vignerons, 2020 will go down as one of the most joyfully forgettable vintages of this century. Thanks to the insidiousness of widespread smoke taint (detailed here, here, here for a start), the 2020 vintage was effectively abandoned from New England to Gundagai (and most spots in between).
What a shit vintage. A shit vintage that then led into a crap year.
But not everyone lost it all. Some lucky winemakers ended up with all smoke taint free fruit, or at least enough clean fruit to make a wine or two, and Jacob Stein of Robert Stein was one of them. I’m a big fan of Jacob’s Mudgee Riesling range, and this new 2020 Robert Stein Riesling is a great result.
Effectively a declassified version of the Dry Riesling with what could be salvaged, this, importantly, it clean and clear. Not even a hint of smoke (and tested more than once by the AWRI too). It’s primal, crunchy and green fruited, the nose edged with pepper in amongst the floral white flowers notes, the mid palate typically chunky in its grapefruit apple tang.
It’s maybe not as profound in its intensity like the usual Robert Stein flagship, which is usually a big, muscular, yet dry Riesling in a way that is unlike most other Australian Riesling. But it’s still long and powerful, with prominent, perfectly natural acidity.
A victory. Best drinking: now to whenever. I like this style young though. 18/20, 93/100. 12%, $35. Robert Stein website. Would I buy it? Worth a bottle.
Speaking of Riesling, these two also crossed the bench recently.
Taylors St Andrews Riesling 2019
Always my favourite Taylors wine, and this is another quality release. While it’s probably best left alone for 3-4 years, the intensity of that limey palate makes it a worthy drink whenever – it’s a powerhouse Clare Riesling, the citrus compacted in and laced up by tangy, well-handled acidity. My score will look conservative in years to come. Best drinking: later. 18/20, 93/100+. 12.5%, $40. Taylors website. Would I buy it? Worth a bottle for the cellar.
Harewood Estate Denmark Riesling 2020
Tangy and taut young dry Riesling from a Rizza master. The Rizza Master, that’s James Kellie. This isn’t even my favourite ’20 Harewood Riesling, but it is a serious wine. Maybe a little greenish, with hints of celery in amongst the waves of grapefruit. Great length, and anything but harsh, with excellent concentration, if just a bit stern. Best drinking: I’m not sure. It’s going to soften, but I’m in two minds about whether it gets profoundly better. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12%, $30. Harewood website. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.