…at the Canberra International Riesling Challenge, where Riesling dreams come true…

Last time I waxed lyrical on the subject of Riesling…well, I spent a weekend drinking, slurping, swirling and sniffing Riesling. We talked about it, discussed and analysed…and I’m more in love with the grape then ever before.

The morning of Saturday 15 October started with the opportunity to taste…514 Rieslings! Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Austria, Germany, South Africa and France sent in their representative bottlings.

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We started with the Elite Golds and the Trophy winners before casually spending the next 3 hours trying the rest of the winning crowd – an incredible 85 Gold medals got handed out this year. Luckily, got to start before the crowds rolled in.

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An impressive array of styles, from the bracing examples of bone dry Clare Valley to searing acidity of New Zealand with a nice balancing touch of residual sugar, to the lushness of Alsace and the versatility of our North American friends. This is a must attend event for anyone at all curious about wine, the absolute generosity and versatility of a single grape and for anyone interested in terroir. And no, just because someone didn’t win on the day doesn’t mean their particular Riesling was not delicious – competitions are only as good as the judges on the day, after all.

And for those more serious, Friday held the annual Seminar and MasterClass on the excellence in Riesling. This year we covered such topics as:

  • Innovation in Riesling winemaking – trying everything from sparkling examples to “orange” Riesling with plenty of skin contact (oddly yumm even if I was in the minority), lees and other bits, to a the new fad of low alcohol wines (clearly, I am not a fan of the ultra processed…nevermind the lack luster taste).
  • Key Aspects of Terroir – with focus on climate and the changes we have recently experiences in temperature.
  • The MasterClass on Riesling from regions 41 degrees and south: A presentation on evolution of New Zealand Riesling with some excellent examples, as well as what the Tasmanians have been upto in the recent years. Incredible diversity!

 

Interested or curious? Check out these links:

Cheers!

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PS: My personal picks

2016 Mount Majura Vineyard Riesling, Canberra District (Trophy)

2016 Jim Barry Watervale Riesling, Clare Valley (Gold)  – consistently good

2016 Jaeschkes Hill River Clare Estate Riesling, Clare Valley (Gold) – purity

2016 Hentley Farm Riesling, Eden Valley (Gold) – deliciousness in a glass

2016 Galafrey Reserve Riesling, Great Southern (Gold)

2016 Trevelen Farm Estate Riesling, Great Southern (Bronze) – juicy deliciousness

2016 Hay Shed Kerrigan & Berry Riesling, Mount Barker (Gold)

2016 Capel Vale Regional Series Riesling, Mount Barker (Gold)

2016 Freycinet Vineyard Riesling, Tasmania (Silver)

2016 Goaty Hill Riesling, Tasmania (84 points)

2016 Chartley Estate Riesling, Tasmania (Trophy) – rose petals, waxy green apple.

2016 Bellarmine Dry Riesling, Pemberton (Silver)

2016 Robert Stein Riesling, Mudgee (Gold)

2016 SANTAS & D’SAS Henty Riesling, Henty (81 points) – chocolate nose and green apple pastry palate.

2016 Ferngrove Off-Dry Riesling Limited Release, Franklnad River (Trophy) – love it despite my self

2015 Basedow’s Eden Valley Riesling, Eden Valley (Gold)

2015 Laurel Bank Riesling, Tasmania (85 points) – finger limes and roses with jasmine, textural

2015 SANTA & D’SAS Henty Riesling, Henty (Bronze) – that of the fabulous magnum bottle, so points for presentation but also damn good juiciness inside

2015 Bream Creek Riesling, Tasmania (Gold) – searing acidity balanced with just a hint of sweetness to finish dry, but just love the purity

2003 Eldridge Riesling, Clare Valley (Gold) – for the petrol and kerosene

2010 Petaluma Hanlin Hill Clare Valley Riesling, Clare Valley (Gold) – aging nicely, no kerosene

2005 Poacher’s Ridge Riesling, Hastings River (Gold) – slurp, slurp away!

2015 Prinz von Hessen Kabinett ROYAL, Rheingau (Gold)

2014 Joern Riesling Arancia, Rheingau (80 points) – texture, funk, weirdness or epic proportions, totally intriguing. One of those ‘orange’ wines that’s just lips smacking good.

2014 Joern Riesling Hasensprung Stuckfass, Rheingau (81 points) – more ‘normal’ of the pair but oh so wickedly fun to drink. Slightly ‘orange’ wine i.e. saw some skins.

2015 Martha Clara Estate Reserve Riesling, Long Island (Bronze) – great balance

2014 Fox Run Vineyards Riesling Lot 11 Lake Dana Vineyard, Finger Lakes (Silver) – ripe tropical notes, great length

ALSO:

2015 Moorilla Estate Sparkling Riesling, Tamar Valley – just yummy and frothy

2015 Glaetzer-Dixon Uberblanc Goldpunkt Riesling – sherbet, pears, apples, roses, lychees…and on and on

2011 Foxes Island Belsham Awatere Estate Riesling, Malborough – juicy, yellow fruits, tangy and incredibly fresh

2015 Mudhouse The Mound Riesling – in spite of myself, drink by the bucket

2010 Peregrine Riesling – “very like-y” not so technical with this one but sweet monkeys on fire this stuff is good. Good savoury edge.

 

 

Durif

What is it you find yourself asking?

French native crossing of Petit Syrah and Peloursin, propagated by Dr Durif (I would also name a vine after myself!). In it’s native land of France, it was not considered to be a grape of high quality and you’ll be hard pressed to find it these days.

It is found in USA, notably in California and is labelled under Petite Syrah.

In Australia, Durif found a welcome home in the hot land of Rutherglen, in North-Eastern Victoria. Here it makes inky, ballsy, tannic wines of lionesque magnificence. Recently, Riverina and Riverland have jumped onto the band wagon but have yet to produce anything that I have tried that would give Rutherglen Durif a run for the money.

My love for Durif started fairly early, with plenty of stumbling blocks, with a fairly common question of “what is durif?” from everyone else’s lips. Vintage Cellars was the place, during work hours and an article about a maligned grape that is unloved in it’s native land but that has found a very welcome spot in the land of fortifieds – Rutherglen, Victoria. With a bit of hunting down I tried my first sip, and the love was confirmed – Morris Durif. A two week stint at the Sydney Easter Show helping with the Hunter Valley Wines stand, momentous meetings with like minded Durif-iles and The plan was set, and with just over a year after first sight the trip to the heartland was set!

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Boxing Day, December 26, 2007 – my birthday and graduation present to myself – a trip to Rutherglen, Victoria to taste all that is there to taste, hunting down Durif. A memory of a lifetime. Hottest week in years. New car airconditioning didn’t stand a chance. We baked and sampled, and drank. The joy of Rutherglen for a visitor is that majority of the wineries are really close. One was within a 5 minute walk of the our ‘home’ the Victoria Hotel. Anderson Winery are the producers of the magnificent Cellar Block Durif – cemented me on the spot. There’s simply too much to sample from Durif, surprisingly good whites and reds, and all those stunning fortifieds! Three days, four nights of wine and food like never before.Only regret? Not being able to find Buller Wines – three times! Ended up driving off into the country side and found Pfeiffer Wines. Having had some amazing examples from Buller Wines at home, they are still on the To Do list…

Highlights: Morris of Rutherglen, All Saint’s Estate, Anderson Winery, Campbell Wines, Pfeiffer Wines, Mount Prior, Stanton and Killeen, Valhala and Vintara (Tempranillo and beer).

Confessions of a Durif Tragic by Andrew Sutherland Smith, Winemaker and self confessed Durif Tragic @ Warrabilla Wines, Rutherglen.

“What I really enjoy is the black phase fruit characters that this variety has in abundance. Dark morello cherries, satsuma plum, dark fine chocolate, huge mouthfeel and soft tannins. Trouble is to get those you have to go beyond what is considered normally ripe, 15 Beaume fruit is just the start of these characters..so you’re really looking at wines of 15.5 % alc to be any good…more like 16!”

See full article at http://www.vinodiversity.com/warrabilla-durif.html

Sounds interesting? Think about visiting…I’d take at least a week as 3 days is simply not enough to try it all. Oh, and yeah, bring a driver!
Visitor Info for Rutherglen, Victoria

Cheeky 😉
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Sundays

It is a glorious Sunday in Sydney.

The sun is shining. People are happy. Well, at least the neighbours are playing happy with guests in their backyard. I’m sure there will be plenty of unhappy people today but let’s not spoil the moment.

It is Sunday.

A beautiful day by any account. I am inside. Not really partaking of it, fantasising about sitting on a terrace or balcony, watching the world and drinking some decent wine. I can do that. On my balcony. I even have the wine. The question is more of why don’t I? And that’s what I have been thinking about today, fantasies never live up to the promise when they join in with reality. They are usually much more vivid and pleasant in your head then when they finally escape and wreck havoc with your ideas.

Why? Well let’s take my fantasy into consideration. Why wouldn’t it be as good as I think it will be?

a) It won’t be as warm, I want tropical night with maybe the sun on my skin.

b) Sitting for any length of time on my balcony is not very comfortable.

c) I will get bored very quickly. There’s not that many people to watch. Not enough happening to keep me entertained. My thoughts will wonder on another fantasy – to be somewhere better, to a better terrace with better wine and company…

…so the cycle continues.

Now this is meant to be a wine blog of some sort, but there’s plenty of those. So this will be my winexorcism.  Wine is coming…

 

Wishing this was my view…