Along with Chardonnay, Riesling is considered to be one of the finest white grapes in the world, producing a whole range of styles from bone dry to lusciously sweet. The best wines are incredibly long-lived, elegant and racy. They become increasingly complex with age. Riesling originated in Germany where, along with neighbouring Alsace, some of its greatest wines are still made. It is also hugely popular in Australia and Washington.
Interestingly, there is more Riesling planted in Australia than in France. Much of it was cultivated by Silesian settlers to South Australia. Subsequently, Riesling has become the go-to wine of the Clare and Eden Valleys with many old ungrafted vineyards. Names such as Pewsey Vale, Petaluma, Grosset and our very own O’Leary Walker resonate among those seeking a mineral edge to their dry white wine. These Rieslings retain acidity due to cool night-time temperatures, while exhibiting aromas of lime and citrus marmalade, with age. Riesling also performs admirably in other cool climate regions of Australia. These include the delicately fine Rieslings of Freycinet in Tasmania, and crisp tight styles of Orange.
1) Weemala Riesling 2012 Orange, New South Wales €17.95
Peter Logan’s Weemala range goes from strength to strength. This Riesling is an exciting indicator of what the Orange region is capable of and if you’ve not boarded the Riesling train, you should definitely get a ticket, as this variety is going places. It shows lifted aromas of orange blossom and citrus while the palate rewards with a burst of apple and lime, a touch of sweetness culminating with zesty acidity. It’s a perfect candidate for fresh seafood or spicy Asian Cuisine.
2) O’Leary Walker Polish Hill Riesling 2009 Clare Valley, South Australia €19.95
Slate subsoil and local terroir combine to produce a wine with more finesse less fullness at the front palate tighter in youth with varied scents from mineral to citrus pith steely palate texture with natural restraint and dry crispness and building along the tongue to reach its peak at the back. Will grow in the bottle with a lemon citrus intensity.
3) Seven Hill St. Francis Xavier Riesling 2012 Clare Valley, South Australia €29.95
The 2012 St Francis Xavier is a wonderful expression of pristine Riesling, coming as it does from a vintage widely regarded as one of the best in the past decade in the Clare Valley. The St Francis Xavier Riesling exemplifies the variety’s great purity and elegance with its floral style and delicate citrus character. (The winery is owned by the Jesuits and the wine is named for St Francis Xavier, one of the first companions of the Jesuits’ founder, St Ignatius.)