Proctor : November 2017
49 PROCTOR | November 2017 In Queensland, when the switch is flicked and the cold turns to hot, the reds go back into the cupboard and the whites come out to play. If you’re looking for a new style for the warmer months, try a crisp, cool, dry riesling. Riesling as a wine has a mixed history in this country. The continuing love affair with this Angel of the North has been a story of ups and downs, but throughout it all, real Australian riesling has been faithful to a fickle drinking public. In the early years, there was confusion. For many years, riesling was the term used for a style of wine rather than the variety. In the Hunter Valley, Hunter Riesling was sold for many years and was actually the variety semillon. In the Clare Valley, the variety called crouchen was incorrectly described as Clare Riesling until being positively revealed in 1976. On top of that, historic amounts of cask wine would be variously labelled as riesling, but would usually be a blend of white wine varieties with a little too much sugar. For many years, only Rhine Riesling could be relied upon as the real deal. It is not surprising therefore, that riesling had a mixed reputation as many people drinking riesling were actually drinking something else. Real Australian rieslings (including Rhine Rieslings), have always been wines of power and crisp citrus dryness. While a classic German Riesling may work on a clever balance of sweet fruit balanced out with a natural cool climate acid, Australian rieslings (and especially ones from South Australia) have tended to be more bone dry and heavy on the mineral and lime type flavours. One back label described an Australian riesling as having the flavour of ‘quartzy rocks’ – a compelling description, if not one that most people could honestly say they have experienced. Many of these wines develop a unique flavour with age which some commentators have likened to kerosene (again outside most people’s experience). However, I believe it is more mineral than petrochemical and not at all unpleasant. A new and interesting development in riesling is the taming of off-dry styles in some cool climate areas such as Tasmania and Mansfield (Victoria high country, not Brisbane southern suburbs). There are some impressive examples of refined rieslings with a decidedly Germanic twist, bringing fruit flavours first and then acid and lime notes to cut through in the mid palate. Early leaders of the style include lawyer Greg Melick and his Pressing Matters, or Frogmore Creek and their FGR Riesling. Many other talented winemakers in cool climates are experimenting with the balance and achieving outstanding results – Devils Corner 2016 Riesling recently won three trophies at the 2017 Tasmanian Wines Show with such a wine. Given there is now reliable winemaking and a variety of styles staking a claim in the Australian riesling spectrum it is time to revisit this much misunderstood and misrepresented variety. It is prefect for Queensland summers, it loves to be chilled and it loves seafood – especially prawns. Now there is a riesling to love. The first was the O’Leary Walker 2016 Polish Hill River Riesling Clare Valley, which was a lemon pale straw in colour. The nose was a heady mix of sweet honeydew melon on a core of steely granite and lime. The palate was fruit to the fore with a crisp line of citrus tang with honey notes on a core of mineral acid on the mid palate. A young wine with many years ahead. The second was the Devils Corner 2016 Tasmania Riesling, which was the palest yellow with a hint of green tinge. The nose was sweet passionfruit, melon and crisp citrus. The palate was a tour de force with none of the sweet warning of the nose. It was fruit driven at the forefront with floral notes and an emerging citrus acid. On the mid palate was a length of ripe fruit on a base of mineral foundation. While a little sweeter, on the body the acid cut completely through to dryness. Almost Germanic in style. The last was the Steingarten Riesling Barossa 2014, which was green tinged and white gold in colour. The nose was a mix of mineral, developed notes and charcuterie. The palate was clean as a whistle with mineral and lime lining up beautifully – straight purity and clear length on the palate. Verdict: Three great wines with differing styles but the clear favourite was the Devils Corner, which despite winning a number of trophies and accolades at wine shows and reviews, is actually a damn good drop. The tasting Matthew Dunn is Queensland Law Society acting CEO and government relations principal advisor. Wine Give me a riesling to love with Matthew Dunn Three cracking examples were examined to find the reason for riesling.