Ripping Riesling

The 2012 local Riesling vintage is a fabulous one as these wines from experienced names show that familiarity can breed brilliance. These drops reflect their district clearly but are individually interesting due to slightly different approaches in their winemaking. David Ridge reviews four of these ripping Rieslings from some great traditional South Australian names. Food matched by Il Mercato.

The 2012 local Riesling vintage is a fabulous one as these wines from experienced names show that familiarity can breed brilliance. These drops reflect their district clearly but are individually interesting due to slightly different approaches in their winemaking. David Ridge reviews four of these ripping Rieslings from some great traditional South Australian names. Food matched by Il Mercato. 

2012 Mountadam Riesling
Eden Valley, SA
RRP:  $21
mountadam.com.au

The 2012 vintage is an ‘important’ one for wines produced in SA’s (and fairly unarguably Australia’s) two premier districts for Riesling, the Eden and Clare Valleys. ‘Important’ in fact, may come to mean a year that is the equal of any seen. Time is needed to be sure of this – but some of my dosh is about to go on it, and in particular on some of this wine. This gorgeous creature is compelling evidence of a vintage that seems to photograph from any angle. Even the winemaker insists that his intervention is calm, cool and relatively simple, allowing a beautiful mature Eden Valley vineyard, picked later than most, to express a range of characters in such balance. This has that almost glowing personality, with a compelling fruitiness of musk or roses over the usual spice and citrus. The palate is full, almost fleshy and tingling with equal measures of extract, racy acidity and flavour – flavour that goes way longer than usual. This wine will go way longer than usual, but it’s also completely enjoyable now.

Maese Miguel Manchego D.O.
Producer: Quesos Rocinante
Milk Type: pasteurized sheep’s milk
RRP: $54.90
Origin: Spain
rocinante.es

Manchego (Queso Manchego) is a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the manchego breed.  The Denomination of Origin has protected Manchego cheese since 1984.  D.O. stipulates the exclusive use of milk from manchego sheep, as well as an aging period of a minimum of a minimum of 60 days. The rind is a yellow to brownish beige colour.  The interior is firm and compact and ivory to pale yellow with a crumbly texture. The taste is very characteristic, well developed, but not too strong, buttery and slightly piquant with a sheep milk aftertaste. Manchego cheese is perfect to eat simply with a slice of crusty bread. It is equally enjoyable as a dessert with fruit or drizzled with honey.
 
2012 Pewsey Vale Riesling
Eden Valley, SA
RRP:  $23
pewseyvale.com.au

 I’m sort of forced to review this wine every year. I mean how can a bloke miss this brilliant South Oz icon, which delivers so much for so little and so often? The point is that this consistency is no accident and the site of this mature vineyard and the continual tweaking of it from experience and research over nearly four decades, probably gives winemaker Louisa Rose and team one of their easier jobs, I’d imagine. Careful, cold, simple winemaking leaves the way clear for the vineyard to do the talking. From this vintage it has more to say than I can ever recall. This vintage just adds extra layers and intensity, with the usual aromas of white flower, citrus and talc being joined by just more things and the palate has more weight and juice and length, and none of this is forced or ponderous. This is phenomenal wine for the money and even with its acid looking a little less evident than in some years, I just know there are decades more in this. Get some now.

Buffalo Ricotta
Producer: That’s Amore Cheese
Milk Type: Buffalo
RRP: $6.95 (200g tub)
Origin: Melbourne, Victoria
thatsamorecheese.com.au

Giorgio Linguanti, from That’s Amore Cheese in Melbourne, is one of a few Italian soft cheese makers in Australia. The cheeses made fresh daily in his mozzarella laboratory are all-natural and have no additives, using non-animal rennet. The fresh Buffalo Ricotta cheese is smoother and creamier than cow’s milk ricotta.  There are no grainy characteristics. It is bright white in colour, moist and has a strong sweet flavour when compared to regular cow’s milk ricotta. Buffalo Ricotta is a great alternative when making many Italian recipes such as lasagna or simply eaten on its own using a slice of crusty bread and drizzled with olive oil.
Join Mercato for the launch of the Cuore Blu range in our demonstration kitchen area on Saturday, November 3 from 11am to 2pm. 

2012 Mitchell Watervale Riesling
Clare Valley, SA
RRP: $26
mitchellwines.com

 The Mitchells, Jane and Andrew (and followed by another generation) are a family who boast formidable experience and you might think enough to see them settle on the tried and tested. Yet they haven’t stopped evolving their vineyards and wines from those first tentative steps back in 1975. Their Watervale Riesling, which first appeared in 77, has a glorious history and it is interesting to see where it’s at and how it expresses in such a clearly superior vintage. No worries, it’s all just fine here. Having gradually converted to organic and biodynamic practices they also turned to a less interventionist style in the winery, although the style of this wine does reflect its extra time to settle on lees. It’s looking to balance the lean and tight mineral and icy lime characters with a little more texture. Unlike many (most?) other Riesling from this vintage, a couple of years more will see its best expression. Mind you it provides a pretty dazzling preview right now, if partnered with sashimi or an oyster or two. 

Locanda Bagna Caôda 190g
Producer: Locanda La Posta
RRP: $10.95/190g jar
Origin: Torino, Italy
agroalimenta.com

The Locanda La Posta follows the philosophy of natural production using only natural preservatives such as oil, salt and vinegar.
Bagna caôda is a typical dish from the Piedmont region of Italy.  Typically, the basis of the recipe is garlic, anchovies and olive oil, but with numerous local variations. It is served similar to a fondue, to be eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables, especially carrot, fennel, capsicum, celery, artichokes and cauliflower.

2012 Pikes Riesling ‘Traditionale’
Clare Valley
RRP: $23.00
pikeswines.com.au

This was the first Riesling I tried from 2012 and being familiar with many releases of it I knew there was something special happening here. With nearly 30 vintages working on fruit from his own vines Neil Pike was so well prepared just to apply the simplest, yet most careful winemaking to fruit from their cold Clare sub-district of Polish Hill River. This time, even the relative austerity seems for a while to be overwhelmed by the generosity of this vintage. However, it’s not as if all this is wobbling about the joint without purpose. No, it’s all there, that classic Polish Hill tightness, a minerally line which seems to start in amongst aromas of lemon, lime and the area’s signature slatiness and continues through a juicy palate which echoes the same characters, and on to finish of real zing. This time though, with the bounty of this vintage, the flavor resonates and lingers. By habit, ‘Pikey’ doesn’t use much hyperbole for his wines; but this year a little smirk gives the game away.

Figuli Crispbread (Foglie 100g or Tele 150g)
Producer: Figuli
RRP: $4.95 pack
Origin: Treviso, Italy
figuli.it

Figuli crispbread is a naturally delicious, leavened lavosh style baked crispbread made in the Treviso region of Italy.
This crispbread is thin, light and crunchy and made in two shapes – Foglie and Tele. The flavours available are classic, oregano, rosemary and sesame. Ideal for cheese, dips and antipasto platters.