2012 Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Dry Riesling

From Alsace to the Clare Valley is a long way but the Riesling connection keeps my glass half full. One of my favourite local wine shops has the clever workers stylish in T shirts telling me it’s the summer of Riesling. My attempts to be so chic in a free one have been answered only by suggestions I’d need to buy a few more bottles to get a complimentary shirt. This particular bottle from the cellar makes me wish I’d bought a lot more 2012 Lodge Hill than just one. Opened with a bit of asafoetida like sulphur reduction which blows away rapidly to let the intense and typical aroma and flavour of Clare lime to power on through. Lime in its many forms too, leaf, skin oil, juice and when it’s been cut and put flesh side down to caramelise in a pan. Loads of sweet fruit but no sugar, it does say dry on the front label, a tropical sort of lime richness that’s balanced beautifully by natural and mouthwatering acidity, all bedded on a twist of tonic water tang. Not the full orchestra of the Schaal Riesling but so true and clear in pitch. Ageing superbly, unlike some around here.

12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $20 on release, stupidly cheap.

94 points.

2019 Julien Schaal Rangen Volcanique Riesling

A recent 2018 Schoenenbourg Gypse from this maker was so good, a modest bid for a Rangan was essential. After a casual look at what’s around, it’s apparent good Grand Cru Alsace is in the rare treat price category. Happy to say this did not disappoint and made it very clear there’s great growing and winemaking here. Volume and clarity. Generosity and elegance. A range of fine, complex favours. Something sort of petrol and mineral, green mango, white peach and very ripe yellow apples. Great flavours arranged neatly on a strict chessboard of skin phenolics and an indelible caress of unbreakable granite acidity that draw it all out into the distance. Goodness, there’s more, freshly ground sweet spices, floral honey and a twist of quinine bitterness to calm. You could say I like this very much.

13.5% alcohol and no undue warmth. Diam. $59 and in terms of prices for great white wine, a bargain.

96 points.

2018 Tertini Yaraandoo Vineyard Riesling

Visiting a cellar door can be an opportunity to get a glimpse of the people behind the business and their feelings toward the land they farm. A 2019 road trip to Sydney stopped off in pretty Bowral and a bit of research suggested Tertini near Mittagong were making some of the more interesting wine thereabouts. A warm welcome, it’s a cold place up in the Southern Highlands, and a cosy seat to taste their range was a good start. This Riesling was first in their line up and looked good. The rest of the range didn’t quite hit the same level. In hindsight that’s probably more a measure of how good is their Riesling rather than any lack of quality in their other efforts. Hitting a cellar door without context and pro levels of tasting can make benchmarking difficult. Lovely passionate people staffing the cellar door, they were happy to answer a daft geeky question by finding the winemaker not far away, saying he loves to talk about his efforts. More than three years later and curiosity about my measly single bottle buy got the better of me. Clean and inviting smells of ripe lime with a burr of white peach, sort of coriander pesto, all round and full in the middle. Obviously carefully grown and picked fruit. Just so ripeness, gentle soft acidity leaves a mouthwatering finish. The second day and even more evidence of very good grapes with the flavours deepening and resolving into more pleasure. Really delicious surprise. By way of comparison perhaps more round and succulent like Victorian or Canberra’s better Rieslings than the lime and citrus drive of South Australia? Or just faithful to the Southern Highlands and a care for a good vineyard? Whatever, the sort of cellar door visit that doubles the pleasure, then and now.

12.4% alcohol. Screw cap. $35 I think?

Started 93 points but happy with 95 second day.

2018 Julien Schaal Schoenenbourg Grand Cru Riesling Gypse

Jancis Robinson has been a favourite longer form writer for over thirty years. Her prose has an uncanny knack of making me want to go and search out a bottle. Prose which always flows well without cliches, worn figurative language and over used idiom. This maker’s stuff got effusive praise for great fruit and value. Googling, there were a few bottles at auction. Snagged one and here we went. Rich in petrol, sour apple and sweet pineapple at first, it turned into one of those brilliant whites that just get fresher and more even in the glass. A driving ozone freshness took control of bright Pink Lady apple and white peach. The structure supremely balanced between flowing positive acidity, pithy phenolic ripeness (time on skins?) and a glycerol glide. More glorious complications from a sense of powdery chalk and earth. Gypse is gypsum I think, auto suggested no doubt. Over three evenings, nothing budged, just deep complexity and power on pin point refreshment. Completely smitten, oh Jancis.

Just to add more surprise to the story, further googling showed this was available as a direct import from the Melbourne based on line shop that’s Vinomofo who are better known for clearing secret Shiraz at deep discounts. Sadly all the Julien Schaal had sold out. Looks like I’d better pay more attention.

13% alcohol. Diam, seems to fit those long neck Alsatian bottles well. $47 at auction.

95 points pushing 96.

2018 Forbes and Forbes Eden Valley Riesling

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.

2021 Brothers at War The Grape Grower Eden Valley Riesling

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.

93+ points.

2015 Steve Wilbin’s Erin Eyes Pride of Erin Reserve Clare Valley Riesling

Not exactly the most on trend packaging perhaps? About as fashionable as this blog. Thanks to Winefront for again reviewing something that probably wouldn’t be a random first choice from the shelves of summer essential Riesling. Density and softness of fruit flavour suggests care, money and time lavished on hand picking and gentle squeezing. Still fresh and full of citrus, that developing lime caramelised in a warm pan and a herby sweetness of coriander and its seed, fennel and a lick of vanilla. Pillows softly but full in the mouth and caries on fine acidity. The best sort of Clare Riesling, books and covers, eh?

12% alcohol. Screw cap. $35 rrp on release, $17 at auction, lucky.

94 points.

2021 Leo Buring Clare Valley Riesling

A new vintage with very good early words. Despite coming to the conclusion that Clare Rieslings only start to taste something like wine in the new year after vintage rather than yeasty fermented grape juice, a 95 point review from an eminence gris of Australian wine writing persuaded me to crack the cap. Oh well, what do I know, this is an inscrutable mess of yeasty smells, not much else, maybe something like Sauvignon Blanc. Nice even flow across the tongue though, fine mouthwatering acidity. Beyond that I’m not much wiser. The second day brings more. Big swell of elemental lime juice and herbs, still a lurking green Sauvignon B ending. Noticed the 11% alcohol but not a huge amount, if any, of residual sugar which does make me wonder if the fashion for picking everything a little less ripe has spread to Riesling in Australia? The weight of fruit and fine acidity are alone more than enough to put a couple away for warmer summer days. Hope the critics are right, crystal balls on the line as it were. A warm dreamy summer evening and a cold glass of mountain stream fresh Riesling are one of life’s affordable joys.

11% alcohol. Screw cap. $14.50 in a six at Dan’s.

Pick a number between 90 and 94 and hope sort of score.

2017 Derwent Estate Riesling

Don’t often buy Tasmanian Riesling but when I do, I always think I should pay more attention. Longer days ripening and cooler places do seem to coax more flavour. Opening with some developed scents of green pineapple, touch of vanilla and sort of petrol but not quite the deep kerosene of sun burnt skins. Rich in extract and flavour in the mouth, limes, honey and more of those exotic developing tropicals. The sort of sliding weight Alsace seems to do. Ends well too. Sweetly ripe acidity and a lingering perfume. Maybe a smudge of residual sugar or just deep sweet fruit weight, not sure. There’s the trick.

13% alcohol. Screw cap. $18.30 from auction, nicely done for once.

93 points.

2005 Heggies Vineyard Eden Valley Riesling

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.

93 points.