15 April - by Lucy Rundle
As part of the Tasting Australia Festival, East End Cellars hosted a Riesling Smackdown, where makers of this divine white presented their best offerings to a knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd.
Riesling has not always been as popular as it is today. It’s the most commonly misspelt wine on the menu, wrongly thought to have Blue Nun as a relative and often misunderstood as being a sweet wine, when in fact it is often bone dry. Until the year 2000 the term Riesling was used to describe a style of wine, rather than the actual grape variety that it is. Riesling producers lobbied, stood by their much-loved grape and, as a result there is now much to celebrate.
In South Australia we are spoilt for choice when it comes to Riesling. Great value and variety are readily available as exquisite, mouth-watering, dry whites are made throughout the region. When it comes to Riesling, once you have been bitten by the bug there’s no going back. Devotees are in it for life, and the Riesling Smackdown gave some convincing examples of why people get so smitten.
The flavour profile of Riesling is hugely broad. From an austere, pristine, clear and often young wine, an old, pungent, kerosene scented nectar can emerge. So, if you prefer a floral, citrusy, crisp white to wash your seafood down there are plenty to choose from, such as the Pikes “The Merle” Riesling, 2017 – part of the Smackdown tasting.
For a warmer, honeyed drop, perhaps with a whiff of kerosene, Jim Barry’s Florita Riesling 2007 is excellent. Great value, and younger, is Peter Lehmann’s ‘The Wigan’ Riesling 2013, which has distinctive, typical Riesling mineral aromas but with a lighter mouthfeel.
Another fantastic wine for your money is the Vickery Eden Valley Riesling, 2017. At just $20 a bottle, it seems rude not to – and it’s a safe bet for any occasion. It’s light, easy drinking but still tasty with notes of lime, lemon and a bone-dry finish.
Fancy something different? Vanguardist CVR Clare Valley Riesling is made in barrels, rather than stainless steel tanks. Unfined and unfiltered, flavours of apple, yeast and an almost grainy texture make this a wine to talk about. Even the label is unique – fabric not paper!
The overall favourite on our Smackdown Tasting table was Max & Me Eden Valley Riesling 2017. Limes, lemons, white flowers and a clean, smooth finish contribute to construct a wonderful example of an Aussie Riesling. Made by Phil Lehmann, it was a fabulous accompaniment to our cheese and salami nibbles.
All these Rieslings, and many more, are available from East End Cellars, 25 Vardon Avenue, Adelaide.