The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown recently wrote that “If I had to name a best value wine grape/style from Australia that readers will find hard to beat with competition from anywhere else is the wine world, it is undoubtedly South Australian riesling.” (Lisa Perrotti Brown, Australian Wine Values: Everyone Loves a Bargain, Wine Advocate, May 2014)
Her thoughts must have seemed like music to the ears of South Australian riesling producers at a time when the high Australian dollar and heated competition from lower priced competition have hurt Australian wine exports.
Perrotti-Brown believes that one of the reasons why riesling is a bit of an unsung hero is because some people, including myself I admit, find riesling less approachable than more popular white wine varieties like sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.
Riesling wonderfully complements Thai and Vietnamese food
Riesling is a wine that is probably best appreciated with food. No so long ago, my husband and I enjoyed a David Franz Eden Vally Riesling 2013 over dinner at fermentAsian on a trip to the Barossa Valley. Its lime juice aromatics, mouth coating texture, complex citrus flavours and balanced acidity was a perfect match for the delightfully fragrant and deliciously flavourful Vietnamese inspired food. (David Franz is the son of Peter Lehmann, who also designs the most exquisite labels for his artisan wines.)
Perrotti-Brown argues that one of the upsides of rieslings limited popularity is that you have to be “a complete riesling-nut to want to grow it, which keeps the benchmark high.” Lower demand also helps to ensure good availability for even the finest examples and tends to keep prices down.
Australia is the world’s second largest producer of riesling
Australia is the second largest producer of riesling in the world, and has cultivated the vine since the 1840s.
The country is blessed with some of the world’s most outstanding riesling producers including Henschke, Pewsey Vale and Dandelion Vineyards in the Eden Valley, and Grosset, Pikes, Jim Barry and O’Leary Walker in the Clare. The Canberra District and Western Australia’s Great Southern region are also making outstanding examples.
Riesling is a great white to cellar
For a white wine, riesling is hard to beat for its ageability. Over time the primary fruit flavours are complemented by toasty, honeyed tones and accented by a waxy, minerally range of flavours.
So next time you’re looking for great value white to go with dinner or want to pick up a bargain for the cellar, consider Australian riesling.