Australian Riesling – OMG such great wines!

If I say Australia most swedish customers and wine drinkers probably thinks of easy drinking sometimes heavy, full bodied Shiraz or wooded, powerful and luscious Chardonnays.

In some ways Australias wine producers have got themselves to blame. The focus on brands have been so successful (think Lindemans, Penfolds and Rosemount) that they tend to overshadow and dominate every other take on the continent. And the focus on great fruit rather than regionality has also played a part.

But if you ask me the variety among australian wines is at least as good as that in most if not all european countries. The range of wines in Australia is mindblowing and goes all the way from light, delicate and elegant whites to blockbuster reds and fortifieds.

This last weekend I had a great opportunity to test this great variety. I participated in a Master Class on Australia at Gustibus Wine And Spirits Academy led by Justin Knock MW. And for me one of the highlights were the first three tastings on the first day. In focus the best grape in the world: Riesling!

Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2009 (South Australia) 12,5%
Light golden with a greenish tint.
Quite big fresh, green nose with notes of beewax, petroleum, lime and honey.
Fresh, up-front and concentrated taste with lots of citrus/lime, tropical fruits and flowers. Long and focused finish with a little bitter note. Lots of mineral flavours.

Comment: Pewsey Vale usuallly makes fantastic and great value rieslings. This wine is no exception. It’s delicious!

Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling 2009 (Frankland River – Western Australia) 12%
Ligth golden colour.
More closed on the nose with tones of minerals, chalk, grapes and citrus.
Light, fresh and mineralladen wine with flowers and green fruit on the palate. Delicate and a bit closed in stile.
Comment: Feels defenitely lighter, younger and greener than Pewsey Vale. Could need som bottle age for it to open up!? First one I have ever tasted from this winery!

Penfolds Konunga Hill Autumn Riesling 2010 11,5%
Greenish yellow.
Big aromatic and a bit spicy nose with lots of tropical fruits. Mango, passion fruit and papaya. Is it really a riesling?
A delicate but more broad fruity taste of tropical fruits (mango, papaya, passion fruit). Aromatic and almost a touch of sweetness. Great “grapey” finish! 3,5/5p

Comment: The Autumn riesling is made in a style that was popular in the 70’s. The wine includes about 6-7 percent gewürztraminer which quite obviously has a lot of impact on the nose and palate. Exciting and interesting and most definitely a wine for those moments when you want to combine the freshness and minerality of riesling with gewürztraminers aromatic tropical flavours.

Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Wigan Riesling 2005 (South Australia) 11,5%
Greenish golden in colour.
Big quite developed and evolved nose with ripe fruits, petroleum, minerals and honey.
Fresh, still  young and a bit acidic taste of mature ripe apples, citrus/lemon, minerals, petroleum and honey. Long youthful and delicious finish with loads of citrusflavours. Will keep for years!

Comment: This wine used to be called Riesling Reserve and is apparently a real wine show-winner in Australia (i.e a winer of lot of medals). Peter Lehmanns wines usually shines and this one is fantastic!

Leo Buring Tamar Valley Tasmania Riesling 2005 (Tasmanien)
Golden yellow.
A bit more developed and “smoky” (a cross between gunflint/gunpowder and fudge) and aromatic odours with ripe fruit, minerals/petroleum and herbs.
A medium bodied more developed and round (mellow) taste of ripe fruits, honey, orange, petroleum and nuts. Long complex aftertaste and a supberb finish!

Comment: Leo Buring (now owned by Fosters) is a classic rieslingproducer in Australia and is most famous for Eden and Clare Valley rieslings – the Leonay Eden Valley being the producers top wine. This wine comes from Tasmania – a region that’s showing good promise for cool climate rieslings!

Leo Buring Clare Valley Riesling 1999 (South Australia)
Golden yellow.
Evolved and developed nose with tones of bees wax, hazelnuts, fudge, orange marmelade and apricots.
Still fresh showing good acidity and a concentrated palate filled with blood oranges, grape, fudge and minerals. A hint of oxidization with nutty flavours but the fruit is still luscious. A long and complex aftertaste with hints of smoke

Comment: Probably the first time I have tasted an australian riesling with more than ten years bottle age. And if you thought that New World rieslings is only for early consumption – thing again! Australias best rieslings has an ageing potential in class with most european riesling wines.

Leo Buring Eden Valley Riesling 1999 (South Australia)
Golden yellow!
Sadly a bit of cork taint on the nose (the tasting room was divided – was it really corked?). Under that first murky cellar tone butter, white flowers and fudge.
Fresh nutty taste with tones of butter and honey. Creamy texture and a long aftertaste with ripe red apples and oranges. No traces of TCA/cork taint on the palate. Just a hint of sulphur!

Comment: Would love to taste this wine again. There were a few of us that first noticed a corky/cellar-tone on the nose. But the taste was still vibrant. Today all australian rieslings are bottled under screw cap!

Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Reserve Riesling 2002 (South Australia)
Greenish yellow.
Rich complex smoky nose with toasty secondary aromas. Tones of gunpowder, minerals, lime and petroleum.
Very fresh and superconcentrated taste of citrus/lime, orange, honey, nuts and fudge. Hints of smoke, gundpowder and minerals. Long a wee bit bitter and still amazingly youthful finish. Good acidity with lots of lemon and honey!

Comment: 9 years of age and still vibrant with great fruit intensity. Probably the best aussie riesling I have ever tasted! Same wine as the Wigan Riesling above (different vintage though!). The wine has been renamed!

If you are fluent in swedish – you can compare my notes wit those of Anders Öhman at Gustibus Wine And Spirit Academy here!


Australias liquid gold – the “stickies”

The “stickies” – the fortified black liqueur muscats and “ports” – has been called the Australias liquid gold. It’s where or by what it all started and even though the style is hopelessly unfashionable in a modern world ruled by table wines – it is probably one of the most egocentric and underrated wines in the world. And quite often a real bargain!

Personally I have always loved the liqueur muscats since I first tested a Morris Liqueur Muscat in the early 90’s. And I have hyped Seppeltsfield No 9 Muscat (strangely called so in Europe and called No 8 in Australia) in my swedish blog.

This last weekend I had a chance to retest Seppeltsfield No 9 against two other fortified icons: Yalumba Museum Reserve and Penfolds Grandfather. The scene was a Master Class on Australia with Justin Knock MW at Gustibus Wine And Spirit Academy in Malmo, Sweden.

These are my notes! For my notes in swedish – see Uppkorkat!

Seppeltsfield no 9 Muscat (Rutherglen/Victoria) 16,5%
Nice light orange/brown almost golden amber colour in the glass.
On the nose quite developed with muscovado sugar, raisins, dried fruits (apricots) and chocolate. A touch of orange, mint and dried herbs.
Full bodied almost oily concentrated taste with dried fruits (apricots again). muscovado sugar and raisins. Hints of chocolate, herbs and prunes. I just love it!

Comment: Almost ridiculously high levels of residual sugar – 326g/l. Made by late harvested raisined brown muscat grapes (a clone of mucat à petite grains). Fortified by grape spirit soon after the start of fermentation (at a level of 2-3% alcohol). Long ageing in large oak casks!

Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat (Rutherglen/Victoria) 18%
Somewhat darker i colour – orange/amber.
Quite developed nose with burnt sugar, hazelnuts, muscovado sugar, raisins and other dried fruits. Just a whiff of citrus and leather.
Medium bodied, fresh and sweet taste with a burnt nutty tone. Lots of dried fruits – prunes, citrusmarmelade, apricots and raisins. Definitely more fruity in style. Not as sweet as Seppeltsfield and with a more delicate finish with just a hint of burnt sugar.

Comment: Made from red and pink muscat (à petite grains). This wine is also fortified early in the fermentationprocess.  243 g/l residual sugar and quite a low total acidity with 4,6 g/l. Museum has been aged for 7 years in large oak puncheons.

Penfolds Grandfather Tawny (South Eastern Australia) 19%
Brown orange amber in colour.
A lot of herbs on the nose with mint/spearmint and oxididative notes of hazelnuts and something vaguely chemical. A bit “funky”.
Mediumbodied, sweet and a bit funky taste of salmiak, liquorice, dried fruits, raisins and salt. Quite a lot of burnt sugar. Definitely more oxidized than the other two with a distinctive rancio-character. But he wine has a lovely freshness as well.

Comment: The wine is normally a blend of shiraz, mourvèdre and cabernet (but Penfolds use other grapes as well). It goes in to large oak puncheons för about 8 years before it is put into a solera system (called Grandfather). There it stays on average for 12 years which gives the wine an average age of 20 years.  About 15og/l i residual sugar and a total acidity of 8,2 g/l.