For your drinking pleasure this month: two gorgeous Rieslings. One steely and bone dry, the other pure, textured and just over the fulcrum of off-dry – both drop-dead gorgeous. A fun frolic with a rambunctious little Pét-nat sparkling from McLaren Vale and, finally, a dangerously drinkable red-blend from the Barossa.
BEST’S GREAT WESTERN
2015 Riesling RRP $25 As this famous Victorian winery sidles towards its 150th anniversary, they’ve tweaked the packaging a little; nothing gaudy or too crazy, it’s a classy label that reflects the pedigree of this historic estate… much like the contents of the bottles. Riesling was first planted here as part of Henry Best’s Nursery Block vineyard in the 1860s and the wines from the estate have an enviable track record of cellaring magnificently over many years. 2015 saw small yields but excellent quality in Great Western and this Riesling is a cracker with its gorgeous fruit profile, focus and presence on the palate. We should all drink more Riesling. There is a stunning, mouthwatering purity to this wine, from the moment the fruit flows onto the palate to the sapid, lingering finish. Here is a wine that just shimmers and gets the old saliva glands working overtime. There is superb clarity and detail to the lime and citrus fruits on display; just a flash of the high–toned white floral notes, notes of crushed stone and citrus rind and a steely palate presence that is reminiscent of the wonderful Rieslings of Germany. Bone–dry on the finish with ample minerality, energy and persistence. Stunning value. bestswines.com
2015 RS10 Riesling RRP$35 There are a bunch of Rieslings in the Yarra Valley–based Mac Forbes range, all of them crackers. This particular beauty hails from the Strathbogie Ranges (near Seymour in Victoria) whose later ripening and granitic soils lead to focussed wines with sizzling lines. The ‘RS’ in the name denotes how much residual sugar resides in the finished wine, in this case 10g/L. Now, depending on whom you talk to, 6g/L is considered dry, so this is just a tick on the ‘off–dry’ side of things. But the acidity here weaves its magic and the resulting wine is deliciously crisp and textured with just a hint of richness. Mid–pale straw in the glass with quite lovely aromas of lemon curd, citrus fruits, guava, crushed stone and white flowers; the palate shows great clarity and fruit purity, again with lemon and citrus fruits along with hints of juicy white peach, lemon curd, clotted cream, stone and a light floral wash. There is plenty of texture and flow in the mouth here, the acidity providing the tension, the beautifully pure fruit providing a taut canvas. There is a lot to be said of the allure of the off–dry Riesling; especially those poised so close to the sugar fulcrum as this particular wine. Not only are they downright delicious, they are so versatile at the dinner table. Try this with roast pork or veal and kaboom! macforbes.com
2015 Pét-nat RRP $30 We have recently seen an influx of small importers pop up importing all manner of funky wines from Europe. This wave of hot producers and wine styles has provided a wave of inspiration and innovation for winemakers in our fine land; experimenting in their own cellars and in the process coming up with some cracking wines. Pét–nat means Pétillant Naturel, think of it as Champagne’s hipster brother/sister… you know the one with the flanny shirt and full sleeve tatts. Unlike their poncy brethren/sistren, pét–nats are vinified without the addition of sugar and yeast to induce a secondary fermentation, and their primary fermentation is interrupted before the native yeasts have finished consuming the grapes’ natural sugars, hence the bubbles. This blend of Grenache, Carignan, Graciano and Cinsault shows a lovely watermelon hue as it sits in the glass, the fine bubbles sidling up to the wine’s surface. Aromas of red berry fruits, raspberry and strawberry with a heady, grapey edge, dotted with spice, blood orange, cranberry and wafts of Aperol–like aromatic complexity. Lightly sparkling, off–dry and just delicious vinous drinking, finishing with a flourish of cranberry, apple, red berry fruits and soft spice notes. If you are a fan of moscato or just looking for solid drinking fun, this is just the ticket for summer. yangarra.com
SMALL FRY WINES
2015 Stella Luna Cinsault Shiraz RRP $28 Wayne Ahrens and Suzi Hilder supply some of the Barossa’s big names with their fantastic, biodynamically farmed fruit, and highly sought after it is too. One patch has some seriously old vines on the deep sands of Vine Vale on the valley floor, the other is higher up in the Eden Valley, around 450m above sea level. Natural ferments, minimal intervention and a gentle hand in the winery are key but to be honest, the battle here is won in the vineyard with excellent farming and great fruit as a result. Deep, impenetrable purple/red in the glass with lifted aromas of juicy plum, black berry fruits, kirsch and a splash of mulberry. Hints of spice, scattered herbs and Barossa earth join the fray; it’s just one of those wines that smells slurpable. And that is exactly what it is on the palate. It’s made as an early drinking style, championing purity of fruit and pure drinking fun over structure and cellar potential. The fruit profile is juicy and plummy with plenty of ripe summer berry fruits, spice, earth and herbs. Light on the tannin but heavy on enjoyment. Don’t be afraid to slip this baby in the fridge for 30 minutes as the temperatures rise. A glass or two of this with a meaty pasta would be just the ticket. smallfrywines.com.au