Wine review — Shaw Vineyard Estate, Pewsey Vale, Skillogalee, Peter Lehmann, Grosset and Mount Horrocks

Shaw Vineyard Estate Isabella Riesling 2009 $28
Shaw vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, New South Wales
Almost two years after its release, Graeme Shaw’s delicious Isabella Riesling 2009 remains available at cellar door and on the wine list at Flint in the Vines – the restaurant adjoining the cellar door. This is where we reacquainted ourselves with Isabella, following the recent Murrumbateman field day. Cellar door manager Tanya Shaw, Graeme’s daughter, says it’s now their biggest seller – and little wonder. A couple of years’ bottle age adds another dimension to the mouth-watering lime-like flavour of this delightful wine. Made by Ken Helm and Graeme Shaw.

Pewsey Vale Riesling 2011 $16.15–$23
Pewsey Vale Vineyard, Eden Valley, South Australia
This gold medal winner at the recent International Wine Challenge, comes from the Hill-Smith family’s 50-hectare Pewsey Vale vineyard, located on the edge of the Eden Valley. Louisa Rose makes the wine just a few kilometres down the hill at the Yalumba Winery, Angaston, centre of the Hill-Smith wine operations. It’s a little softer than I’d expected from the cool vintage, but shows the season’s intense, delicate, citrusy flavours and bright fresh acidity. It’s a dry style and ready to drink now, but has the potential to evolve well in bottle for a decade or so.

Skillogalee Riesling 2011 $21–$24
Skillogalee Vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia
With a lower pH and higher acidity than the Pewsey Vale riesling, Skillogalee, from the estate’s highest slopes (around 500 metres), shows a certain austerity. But under the acidity lie rich, deep riesling flavours and structure. These will surely build with bottle age as the youthful acerbity falls away. That drying acidity makes Skillogalee a good aperitif or oyster wine in its youth. The food matching options will expand over time as the wine fills out and softens.

Peter Lehmann Dry Riesling 2011 $15.20–$18
Eden Valley, South Australia
Winemaker Andrew Wigan says he sourced material for this wine from six Eden Valley vineyards, the fruit all picked early, processed separately and blended later. This is the softest and least acidic of the rieslings reviewed here today, though not lacking the vibrant natural acidity that gives life to the very delicate fruit flavours. A touch of residual sugar (about seven grams per litre) nicely fills out the palate without adding overt sweetness. Soft, fruity freshness makes this a versatile drinking style. Enjoy now or over the next three or four years.

Grosset Off-Dry Riesling 2011 $32
Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia
Largely as a response to high acidity, German winemakers learned to arrest fermentation, leaving unfermented grape sugar in their rieslings. The sugar offset the acidity, leaving delicate, low-alcohol, fruity wines of great freshness. The cold 2011 vintage in Australia created the conditions for comparable, though more alcoholic, styles here. Jeffrey Grosset demonstrates the style well. High, minerally acidity and tangy, lime-like varietal flavour sit well with a kiss of grape sugar and leave a really clean, refreshing, lingering finish. Will flourish with bottle age.

Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling 375ml $35
Clare Valley, South Australia
For the first time ever, Stephanie Toole’s benchmark sticky shows the extra luscious intensity and acidity caused by botrytis cinerea. Normally the wine’s a pure, sweet riesling, made from berries that shrivel on the vine as a result of the canes being cut. In 2011 botrytis leant a hand to this shrivelling process, noticeably influencing the flavour and structure. This extra dimension and intensity more than compensate for the slight step away from the wine’s usual pure, lime-like varietal character. Will probably cellar for decades.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 26 October 2011 in The Canberra Times