After several requests for some white wine, and a hint of Spring in the air, it is time to freshen things up a bit and offer our first Australian, ‘bone dry’, zingy, zesty Riesling.
It is long-time favourite and quiet achiever, Crawford River, from the Henty region in south west Victoria, four hours west of Melbourne, between Warrnambool and Mt. Gambier. It is a perplexing region, producing fierce, powerful, tense Riesling as well as open, aromatic and long-lived Cabernet Sauvignons. Globally, you do not see these varieties excel in the same region, though in Australia we have proved that they can work in unison in Henty and South Australia’s Clare Valley. The secret are cool sites with complex rocky, mineral soils, that enjoy long, even growing seasons.
There are several iconic regions (Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Canberra, Great Southern) and producers (think Grosset, Frankland Estate, Forest Hill, Helm) for Australian Riesling, and while we could have offered any of these here, we regularly return to Crawford River Rieslings that show consistent quality, intensity and uniqueness.
Crawford River was founded and planted in 1975 by John and Catherine Thomson, pioneering an understated region, and relying on passion, research and intuition in planting and producing Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Now Belinda Thomson, John’s daughter and a professionally trained winemaker, manages the winemaking, and enjoys working with a traditional approach, with some healthy, old vineyards. You will notice this release is called their ‘Young Vines’ Riesling, however most of the fruit is sourced from a block planted in 2000, so it is from a vineyard that is entering its peak.
Belinda and John farm their 11 hectares of vineyard organically, experimenting with some biodynamic practices and managing their farming without any use of herbicides or insecticides.
The wine is bone dry and attacks the palate. It drives with flavours of blossom, Meyer lemon, lime and pink grapefruit, with a crisp green apple like acidity. There is also a slate and stone-like mineral feel, and a rich texture, from some time on lees. There is power and length here, with a salivating acidity that makes the wine incredibly easy and satisfying to drink.
Australian media wine types agree here, with Mr. Halliday’s publication awarding 95 points and Mike Bennie’s Wine Front shelling out 94 and calling it a “no brainer for anyone who loves lively, energetic, refreshing white wines, with a touch of class”.
The wine will cellar for 10 years, for those that like their Riesling’s with some age and a golden hue. Flavours will still have fresh citrus but aromas and flavours will move in to honey, wool and toast. It will no doubt add weight and richness though still maintain a verve.
Eat with white fish, steamed if you can and with ingredients like ginger, soy, lime and light chilli. It will also work with prawn stir fries or even just pad thai from your local Thai joint.
We hope you love this one. It is from a modern classic of Australian wine, and a producer Australian wine lovers should be aware of. Any more questions, please just ask.
Tom and Dan