This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Friday, Nov. 7, 2008 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20081107.php.
Another stunning Australian Riesling
When it comes to wine, I'm easily smitten. No one-grape man I, I'm generally ready for a flirtation with just about any new grape or region that strolls down the street, winks and says, "Hello, Sailor!"
But my latest infatuation comes as a bit of a surprise, because it involves a grape variety that most of the world loves but that I've generally left standing against the wall, waiting for the next guy to come along and take to the dance.
I'm talking about Riesling, the subject of this month's Wine Focus. It's widely ranked as one of the world's most noble grapes, with extra credit for food-friendliness.
But my personal taste buds have always found it just a little too intense, like a television with the contrast and brightness turned up too high; and the slight to extreme sweetness that accompanies many (not all) Rieslings is also a bit of a turnoff for me.
But then I started tasting Australian Riesling again, really for the first time since my last trip to Oz in 2003. Whoa! Puppy love! At this point I'm still working from a small recent sample, but the Aussies I've tasted so far this month have shown a consistent clarity and cut, steely acidity and intriguing minerality, all wrapped up in an elegant but austere bone-dry package that totally recalibrates my attitude about Riesling.
My friends tell me that a great vista is opening up before me now ... that once pointed in the right direction I'll be able to find more like this from Austria, from Alsace, and indeed from Germany itself, not to mention the New World. It's a new way of seeing Riesling, and at this point I'm ready for more.
Monday I reported on the delicious Alkoomi 2006 Riesling from the Frankland River region in Westerm Australia. Today's report features Wakefield 2005 Riesling, another delicious example of the Australian style from a more traditional Riesling region, the Clare Valley. My tasting notes are below.
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Wakefield 2005 Clare Valley Riesling ($18.99)
Transparent straw color. Limey with a light back note of Riesling "petrol." Mouth-filling in flavor, fresh and elegant fruit, apple and perhaps a whiff of mango, with a distinctly stony minerality in the background. Crisp, tangy acidity confers food-friendly character and cloaks any slight residual sweetness; the balance between fruit and snappy acidity is right on. Very fine Riesling, fits my recollections of the Australian style with its lime and near-dry acidity and rational 13 percent alcohol. It would make an interesting player in an international tasting. U.S. importer: Brown-Forman Beverages, Louisville. (Oct. 30, 2008)
FOOD MATCH: Riesling goes with just about anything? Sure enough! It made an exceptional match with an offbeat pairing, spaghetti with pesto made from fresh basil.
VALUE: The upper teens places it in competition with some good-quality European Rieslings, but character makes the case: This price is more than fair.
WHEN TO DRINK: Ready to drink, but as a structured, balanced Riesling under Stelvin screwcap, I would not hesitate to keep it 10 years or more under good cellar conditions.
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