2012 Jim Barry The Florita Clare Valley Riesling

An admission, after a thirty year love affair with Riesling from the Clare and Eden Valleys this is my first bottle of Florita from a Watervale vineyard planted in 1946. Despite several years in a bottle, the first sniff was one of surly reduction in the form of that odd gum derived Indian spice, asafoetida. As it clears with air the curious direct memory link between nose and brain elicited a familiar warm pleasure without being able to put a name to recognised parallel smells. As limited intellect coped with the sensory input, things like lime, wax, old stones came to mind. Leaving half the bottle for a second day proved a good move. Any shyness gone, a glorious example of all the best Clare flavours, chiseled and distilled on the freshest laser beam of pristine fruit, all controlled by the most mouth watering of perfect ripe acidity. No raw power, just precision. What have I been missing all these years?

12.3% alcohol. Screw cap. $50 or so.

Started 94 on day one, 96 day two!

2019 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling

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.

2019 Mitchell Watervale Riesling

A little reduction to start, clears quickly but there’s still some just made and bottled yeasty savour. Below there be masses of lime cordial, fresh lime and kaffir lime zest, lots of lime really. Some green apple juice and steely flint. A power of fruit floats on ripe, succulent and mouthwatering acidity. Generous Watervale and looking forward to one in the heat of February next year when it settles and thence for years more. Dry grown, organic principles, hand picked. Cellar, bargain, winner.

12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 589 gms glass. $19 Dan’s members’ special.

93+ points.

2010 Karra Yerta Riesling

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.

94 points.

2010 Pikes The Merle Riesling

Pikes’ premium Riesling with some age. Still a bright young thing to look at, reserved aromas of turpentine, lime and some more lime and vanilla pod. With time and who doesn’t have plenty of that now, the lime seems more concentrated, then brown toast, and some Meyer lemon slide on through. The acidity’s a bit grapefruit mouth drying but it just gets over the ripeness line. Despite the initial intensity, the flavours flatten out a little towards the end perhaps. Lovely to drink but not quite up with their best. Considering the price point where some great Germans start their climb up the scale, it’s amazing value. So reliable the one with the fish on the label.

12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $37 at auction, current release not much more.

93 points.

2012 Castle Rock Estate Riesling

Some trepidation as a 2011 of this was just a little too austere, crackling with lemony acidity. The 2012 is a gentler, riper but still poised edition. A full range smells of a just starting to age Riesling, all in the deliciously ripe spectrum. White peach, lime, Meyer lemon, and a pinch of something more tropically exotic. Just the right touch of a busy garage, terpenes to the chemists. A cushioned glide as it slides down on that ripe acidity, refreshed for more please. Sometimes only one bottle in the cellar is good, as in interesting but enough, sometimes you really wish you had more, like this.

Oops, forgot to note the alcohol %. Screw cap. About $21 on release.

94 points.

2015 Trimbach Riesling

From a pretty limited experience of things Alsace, the attraction was Jancis Robinson choosing this as wine of the week a while ago. JR seems a bit knowledgeable about what she describes as the world’s greatest white grape. There was also a bottle of the deluxe Cuvée Emile in the past that was very delicious and helped the leap into the land of pickled cabbage. Dry, balanced and a good amount of pithy fruit weight in this, the most basic in Trimbach’s range. A welter of fruit flavours in fact, all sorts of citrus, apples, white peach, something like green mango too which gives a slightly sour cut and cues the sweep of cleansing acidity. Nestled amongst the fruit are some beeswax and vanilla savour and some baking spices which are typical of good Alsace it seems. La doyenne is right on.

13% alcohol. Screwcap, how Riesling loves you. $27.

92 points.

2012 Seppelt Drumborg Riesling

From another remote Victorian vineyard in the ocean breeze swept South West, another 2012 Riesling. A long and even ripening season seems to have produced fruit of glorious balance. On first sniff, I must admit to thinking the amount of residual sugar left was out of step but as this woke up a bit and warmed from fridge cold, the clip of sweetness settled like a plump cushion on the laser acid drive. Smells and flavours of lime, white peach and almost green mango with some sort of coriander pesto, the sweet green bit not that odd soapy edge of the raw leaf. Cool river water fresh in a fanciful way that brought to mind the Floyd’s Granchester Meadows. Silly old hippy. Not a scintilla of broad petro chem, just pure, beautifully grown fruit. Subtle and powerful. So good, so sad to see the empty bottle.

12% alcohol. Screwcap. $30 roughly on release.

95 points, it’s that good.

2012 Ashton Hills Riesling

Three Rieslings in a week and not a dud. It’s possibly the only variety that appears on auction sites that consistently sells for less than the original retail, Grosset from great years excepted, of course. This is another ageing with some grace, still a pale colour and hanging on to the aromas of youth. Yes, lime and citrus naturally but again more in the way of mandarin, apples and something that brings to mind those spice notes of Alsatian versions. Beautiful flavours immaculately controlled by svelte acidity and a fruit sweetness born of flavour or a scintilla of residual, hard to tell. Softly autumnal untrammelled by coarse phenolic extract. Over many seasons, a deeply thoughtful producer of great craft. Those of us who visited the cellar door high in the hills were always in for a treat and stunning bargains in the form of those Galahs!

13% alcohol. Screwcap. $24.50 at auction.

94 points.

2011 Frankland Estate Netley Road Riesling

It’s still February, thus it’s more Riesling. This one from the stack of cardboard boxes that passes for a cellar. From a producer who has done a lot to promote the wonders of the grape loved by wine geeks and largely ignored by the rest of drinkers, this one’s shrugging off the effects of age with aplomb. Still pale and fresh smelling. Limes, of course, but lots more in the form of apple pie, almost a touch of vanilla bean, mandarins, waxy candles and sweet green herby notes. Nice line of texture through the mouth, lithe, no real skin grip, just gentle acidity and perhaps a whisper of sweetness to balance impeccably. No shouting but a confidential wink of authenticity for those of us who love the charm of proper Riesling. As old football wisdom has it, form is temporary, class is permanent.

12% alcohol. Screwcap. Was about $25?

94 points.