Wine review — Grosset, Clonakilla and Pike

Grosset Springvale Riesling 2012 $37
Grosset Springvale vineyard, Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia

The Clare Valley riesling excitement continues with the release of Jeffrey Grosset’s amazing 2012s. A normally reserved Grosset, can’t bottle his enthusiasm, writing, “The 2012 vintage has turned out to be one of the best experienced at Grosset. Weather conditions were ideal”. Springvale, from Clare’s Watervale sub-region, presents a delicate, pristine, utterly irresistible face of riesling. Spritely, lime-like acidity carries the fruit flavour across a nevertheless delicate, soft palate – the upfront fruit flavour and softness making delicious current drinking (though the wine should evolve for many years).

Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2012 $50
Grosset Polish Hill vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia
The excellent 2012 vintage emphasises the differences between rieslings from Clare’s Watervale and Polish Hill sub-regions. The sheer power of Grosset’s Polish Hill contrasts starkly with the delicacy of his Watervale (wine of the week based on its drinkability now). Though more austere and steely, Polish Hill shows the upfront fruit sweetness of the vintage. Over time, the power, structure and fruit of this exceptional wine will all become more pronounced.

Clonakilla Riesling 2012 $25–$30
Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
Shortly after vintage, winemaker Tim Kirk said he’d picked riesling early, ahead of the rain, describing it as “a very fine, bony style along the lines of 2011 – acid driven, fresh and appley, but delicious”. He retained unfermented juice for adding back after ferment should the wine need rounding out – which it did. Months later the wine shows a delicate floral aroma with a citrusy note, showing particularly on the palate. High natural acidity intensifies the floral and citrus fruit flavours, carrying the wine to a long, tart, dry finish, with a fresh, feijoa-like aftertaste. It’s delicious now in Canberra’s tart and tight style, but should be even better as time ameliorates the acidity and allows the fruit to emerge.

Grosset Alea Off-Dry Riesling 2012 $33
Grosset Alea vineyard, Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia
Australia’s increasingly popular off-dry rieslings, taste best from cooler vintages where high natural acidity balances the sweetness of residual grape sugars in the wine. Grosset’s comes from a 300-metre by 22-metre section of vineyard at Watervale’s highest point. The 2012 combines Watervale fruit delicacy, with pristine, mineral acidity and a delicate sweetness that gently fills the palate. The balanced interplay of fruit, acid and sugar means a clean, fresh finish – avoiding both the cloying effect of too much sugar or the austerity of too much acid.

Pikes Riesling “Traditionale” 2012 $20.89–$23
Polish Hill, Watervale and Sevenhill, Clare Valley, South Australia
Like other producers, Neil Pike rates the 2012 Clare rieslings “of a very high quality – up there with the excellent 2009, 2005 and 2002 vintages”. Pike’s holding his two reserve rieslings, Merle and J.T., for release in November, but the two reviewed today are available now. The widely distributed “Traditionale” shows the vintage thumbprint – oodles of delicious fruit flavour and balancing acidity, in a full-flavoured style for early drinking. Pike says it’s a blend of estate-grown fruit (70 per cent) and material from neighbouring growers.

Pikes Olga Emmie Off-Dry Riesling 2012 $20 cellar door
Pike Thicket vineyard, Polish Hill, Clare Valley, South Australia
Pike’s off-dry riesling comes from a family vineyard in Polish Hill. It’s rich in citrusy fruit flavour and more overtly sweet than the Grosset off-dry style reviewed today. Acidity keeps the fruit flavour fresh and zesty. But the sweetness outweighs the acid at this stage – though that’s a minor blemish in a thoroughly enjoyable wine. In fact, on a hot day on its own, the wine’s sweetness might add to the appeal. This is an excellent style with hot and spicy food as the fruitiness and sweetness rise above the chilli heat while the crisp acidity refreshes. (Available at

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 19 September 2012 in The Canberra Times