In times past the Adelaide wine writer Philip White wrote glowing and sometimes wild words of love for Forbes and Forbes Riesling. Bottles never seemed to make it to Melbourne but the curiosity remained. When a one turned up at auction, my bid was enough. The back label says the grapes come from vines in Springton EV that are old and deeply rooted enough to produce good fruit in what was a warm and dry season. First sniff and yes, a beguiling power. A waft of fossil fuel recedes into deep exotic citrus, lilies entwined with white peach, a touch of vanilla and sweet green herby things. All these beautiful flavours are amplified by the sort of gentle succulent acidity that only perfect hand picked grapes can produce. Mouth-wateringly great Riesling. There’s an array of citrus flavours that transcends the simple lime and lemon, expanded to blossom, peel oils, juice and pith all at once but only the best sort. Probably one of the most delicious Eden Valley Rieslings I’ve been lucky enough to drink. Bought back memories of that 2002 Henschke Julius and that’s something. Time to visit the Forbes and Forbes website to see what else lurks.
12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $29.95 at auction.
95 points. So good.
Langtons auction site, yet another booze business owned by Woolworths, is a bit of an obsession hereabouts. Sadly, red wine bargain bids are few these days. Happily, some recent luck makes it clear good Riesling can be had for not much. Don’t think pointing this out will make much difference, it’s still a nerd’s variety. Interesting there’s what looks a Banksy on the label. Don’t suppose he pursues copyright if he doesn’t own up to his identity, assuming he’s a he? Perhaps the eponymous brothers protest too much, as this could only have been made by people that get along well. It’s harmonious. Gently pure scents of fresh squeezed, just ripe lime and wet slate in the rain. Fleeting notes of flowers and exotic citrus, maybe yuzu or bergamot. Something like that. Texturally it’s seamless. Really difficult to tell if it’s a touch of residual sugar or just intense fruit that softens the bracing but mouthwatering acidity. As it stretches out over a couple of evenings, murmurings of honey and waxy apples seduce. It’s not shouty but good Eden Riesling needs your full attention. Gentle, firm and fine.
11.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $28 RRP which is still value. Smug me got it for $11.40.
I must confess to taking risks when old Australian Rieslings come up at auction. The reliability of screw caps and their remarkable ability to develop rich, intriguing flavours provided the fruit’s there in the first place can make the odds lean in the punter’s favour. Boy, did I get lucky with this. Glorious perfumes of vanilla bean, lime marmalade, honey and beeswax fill the nostrils. Just as positive in the mouth, straight ahead and unswerving with enough stuffing to carry a deliciously scented finish. So rich and still fresh. Perhaps not the chiseled poise of the best hand picked, free run juice sorts but it’s really churlish to compare when a big company can produce such good wine for not much money. Need a Tardis to go back and buy more of these and other 2005s.
12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $24 bargain.
Some still think Riesling a sweet oddity, some prefer it fresh and new, some softened by age, being soft with age myself, I like it all if the grapes were good and the making careful. Thanks to the screw cap, this opened well with exotic lime fruit starting to look more cordial, in both senses, and marmalade smooth and tart. Lavender honey. Good toast for the marmalade and a pithy bitterness to cut. Acidity just right, not hard or demanding. Just lovely, ahh.
12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $45 at auction.
A retro label indulging TWE’s marketing department’s love of even more new bottles to range. This was happily part of mystery six pack from a recent clearance. Opened as an apero at a family gathering thinking it might please those lucky not to be so obsessed by wine, it was avoided in favour of more familiar spritzes and gins. Getting most of the bottle to myself over a couple of days, it turned out to be delicious. Beautifully made without the clatter of artifice Penfolds save for their red wines, my guess would be a pure expression of Eden Valley Riesling, not that a Penfolds label would let you know. Googling reveals past Autumns were indeed such with a small percentage of gross Gewurztraminer which would have been enough to suggest a pass. Prejudice aside, what was in the glass was attractive and intriguing to sniff. Sweet lime zest and exotic citrus like bergamot and yuzu perhaps. Wet chalky soil and a real depth of quality grapes. An edge of mystery perfume, fleeting and judicially applied, Gewurz maybe? The acidity is settled and counterpointed by a lick of residual sugar, just enough to add a delicious glide. The big machine that’s TWE is easy to criticise but the way incoming grapes are sorted, graded and so carefully turned into a drink is damn impressive. Preconceptions are just daft, sometimes.
12% alcohol. Screw cap. RRP low $20s normally?
92 even 93 points.
The Winefront is by far my favourite subscriber wine review site for a very modest yearly fee. Good palates, vast number of reliable posts, unlike here and many introductions to small producers with great value wines. The only major complaint is the damage done to the budget by all those Barolo reviews. This sadly now out of the game maker was a particularly good tip. From an eighty year old dry grown vineyard atop Flaxmans Valley and only 107 cases made says the back label. In the glass, lime cordial on toast wrapped around old stone and chalk, perfumed with that old Catholic Church aroma of candle wax and incense. Fresh still and full, controlled by quick to settle powdery acidity. A little bruised apple shows some slow development. Perfectly dry finish. Just got more delicious as the bottle emptied, no chance of any left for another day.
12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $13 bid at auction, what luck.
February really is the best time to enjoy the majesty of one of the world’s best white varieties should you abide south of the equator, notwithstanding Melbourne’s summer, currently even more than usually fickle. It does seem that the quality of viticulture has improved a lot in the relatively warm growing climate of most Australian Riesling regions. Keeping fruit shaded by better canopy care has perhaps avoided the once too prevalent early appearance of those broad kerosene flavours. This old fellow is still sprite of colour and has the mellow, waxy, old incense calm of age but still hasn’t forgotten its lime and sweet young herb flavours of youth. Natural feeling acidity has settled well and there’s the slightest brush of phenolic skin and counterpoint fruit sweetness. Gentle but not lacking impact. Some kind people bring the best things to share over my attempts to make a mess in the kitchen, chiz!
12% alcohol. Screwcap once again takes the utter lottery out of opening an old white wine. A generous share.
Cain and Able dabble in Norse mythology to produce one mythologically good Riesling. Opens a bit reduced with what a favourite reviewer over on Winefront justly describes as asafoetida, lovely word, powerful smell. As the air gets to it, things freshen up to reveal lime, waxy vanilla spice, just ripe KP mango and lemon skin oil. Structurally the acidity is natural and mouth-wateringly modulated. Really bounces with a tireless youth. Good 2012s like this are legendary. On the list in Valhalla?
12% alcohol. Screwcap. About $25 on release.
Cost and value are often out of whack. Only 128 measly cases of this from 80 year old dry grown vines planted up high on a hill, yet it didn’t sell. The business sadly decided to close and out it went at $150 a dozen plus freight. Ludicrous value for little cost. Starts off with toast and lime as you’d expect but there’s still a freshness and the extra depth of luscious waxy stone fruit. Terrifically long and the poised balance of clean, mountain clear acid. Australian Riesling doesn’t get much better than this, believe me, had my fair share.
13% alcohol. Screwcap. $13!
Gentle, fine and unassuming, it’s not until this hits the back of the tongue that some just ripe fruit intensity kicks in. A pale greenish yellow colour shows how slowly this is developing. The smells are lime and ripe lemon with a touch of toast and turps. Some background sweet herbs too. Delicate for an Aussie white, it demands paying attention as you could miss the lovely fruit build as it warms in the mouth. Don’t glug or you’ll miss it. Perhaps another bottle in a couple of years?
12.50% alcohol. Screwcap. About $13 thanks to retail lunacy a few years ago.
Another bottle at the end of May 2020, not quite two years, and still bright and ageing with grace. The fruit is more expressive and fattening up well in the mouth. As well as the citrus flavours, some white peach and green mango emerged as it aired. The turpentine note only pops up on opening and fades as the fresh fruit starts to flex. One of those vintages that’s taking time to speak up. Particularly marked by some fine, natural acidity. Another bottle in a year or two, no rush.
More like 93 or 94 points now.