Riesling has become synonymous with Clare Valley. The typical style is restrained and austere when young, with lime and mineral notes. They can evolve for decades and most benefit from over 5 years of ageing. Clare Shiraz is full flavoured with ripe blackberry and spice characteristics. There is a large diurnal shift with drops in temperature from 40C in the day to 1C at night common during the ripening months. This allows for acid retention and vibrant fruit quality. We were lucky enough to visit some of the iconic wine producers – Jim Barry Wines, Grosset, and Wendouree .
An evening with Peter Barry and family at his lovely colonial home was one of the highlights of not just this wine trip but all previous tours. In his Garden the much anticipated Assyrtiko was unveiled, The glorious end product of his vision following a family holiday to Santorini in 2006.Ten years on, following a lengthy process of importation and quarantine of the cuttings, we were lucky enough to be amongst the first to try it . Crisp,fresh and acidic and fittingly served with fresh anchovies. It was clear to see Peter is a visionary in the wine industry.He then served the delicious Florita Riesling, lovely floral nose and fresh lime zest.
We moved inside for dinner. I could barely hide my excitement at the array of wines chosen. Two vintages of the majestic The Benbournie Cabernet Sauvignon . Mcrae wood Shiraz 1994 ,1998 . The Armagh 2002 and 2010, and many more. When he brought out a range of silly hats from a Morrocan Fez to a Mexican Sombrero, Peter and his lucky guests hit full song . The evening’s finale lay in The Jim Barry cellars sampling a rare old home matured Rutherglen and his own ‘Sauternes’ 1981.
We left in fine fettle . This night will long go down in the memory.
Jeffrey Grosset is internationally recognised as one of the most influential winemakers in the world. He hosted a Riesling Masterclass ( 9am 11 th November) We started with a review of the geology in the Clare Valley. The region’s soils are 500 to 800 million yrs old it’s phylloxera freeand vines are on their own rootstock .Clare has up to 110 yrs of unbroken winemaking history. Grosset is situated in the south of Clare , which is 25 km in length . We tasted six 2016 Rieslings in pairs from different sites to demonstrate the expressiveness of different terroirs , followed by six older Rieslings to demonstrate the marked changes in ageing .
Grosset Polish Hill 2016 Lime zest/blossom clean crisp piercing acidity linear hint white flower,closed
Pokes Merle Riesling 2016 Lime clean acid pear apple lemon grapefruit closed generally
Crabtree Watervale Riesling 2016 Red loam limestone watervale region,boot polish musty nose reduced,Crisp fresh lime on palate
Jim Barry Florita Riesling 2016 More floral Jasmine white blossom.Lime juice long finish open fresh
Celtic farm Riesling 2016 Floral white yellow blossom open nose honeysuckle stone fruit peach warmer site mandarin more open wine more lush complex mineralty salty
Naked run Riesling 2016 Pear apple hint mandarin lime and salty finish
Aged Riesling flight
2014 Hill River Clare Estate Riesling Petrol beeswax fuller richer palate length depth lime more developed than expected for 2 yrs
2013 Leo Buring Leonay Riesling Petrolic reduction TDN
2010 Kilikanoon Morts Reserve Riesling dry acid crisp lime length petrol
2009 Paulette aged release Riesling Petrol honey longer complex sl toasty marzipan beeswax **
2005 Mount Horrocks Riesling Tropical fruits honey beeswax marzipan.Long finish nutty toast
2004 Mitchell’s Watervale Riesling Beeswax honey nuts toast,petrol long
The wines were generally bone dry (less than 4gl or nil).Value wines not expensive given beautiful development over few years.Production is low.
We then drove to the Gaia vineyard through Montero slate country. Jeffrey specifically chose this isolated east facing slope 20 years ago for his Cabernet Sauvignon.We sampled the lovely Gaia 2013- Herbaceous, black currant leaf,casssis capsicum good acid backbone and length
Lunch at Paulett vineyard , Polish Hill River with alternative varietals tasting followed
Pauletts Helmsford semillon2015 by Polish Hill Lemon citrus fresh clean
47/74 hand crafted Malbec Cabernet 2010 Cassis black plum mint liquorice concentrated fine chalky tannins good acidity length
Artwine Fiano Wicked Stepmother 2016 fresh lovely texture oily mouth coating
Matriarch and Rogue 2016 Vermentino hint peach pear good crisp acidity
Mount Horrocks Nero d’Avola 2014 Low tannin not great depth concentration black fruits light only planted 2007 young
Artwine Montepulciano Leave Your Hat On 2015 dark wine packed full of dark cherry fruit dark plums spice good backbone med tannin length
Matara kilkanoon 2013 Good intensity black fruit med tannin good balance acidity sl savoury
The day was still young. The iconic Wendouree and an evening dinner at Skillagolee was yet to come ….