Thursday, December 20, 2012

hand in the air for Australian whites

2011 Pewsey Vale Riesling | Eden Valley | South Australia

I had a trio of Australian wines recently that blew my mind so thoroughly I'm going to have to write about each separately to relive all the awesomeness.  Two whites and a red, and all the hyperbole aside, I wonder ... why aren't more Australian wines like this, when it's obvious that they're more than capable of producing graceful, terroir-driven wines?

Pewsey Vale has a long history going back to the mid 1800's, and was the site of the first vineyard planted in Eden Valley. Eden Valley, along with Clare Valley, form an unequivocally formidable duo that's producing some of the most exciting dry riesling in the world. In a New World framework, of course - these are different from Alsatian wines, but are nonetheless terroir wines, and authentic interpretations of the varietal. As a mark of their unique heritage, select Eden Valley producers have even adopted an industry standard bottle. Drinkers accustomed to (and expect) that heavy-handed, syrupy style of wine they associate with Australian shiraz will be pleasantly surprised here - the wines have great finesse, with impeccable balance. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a better value for what you're paying.

A Friday night, dinner at home, and feeling kind of beatdown. What better way to pick yourself up than going through a pair of Australian whites? This was, in a word, magnificent. Mineral and vibrant, fabulous extract running through the palate. A crescendo of energy and intensity that roars through the finish. Just a brilliant example of that linear New World style of riesling, with structure and concentration, yet remaining perfectly balanced. Stunning.

One other note: this was bottled under screwcap, and with wines this young, you sometimes wonder if the wines need to settle in a bit. No awkwardness here - the wine was open and expressive, and although clearly a good candidate to lay down for a few years, drinking beautifully. We forget sometimes that winemaking is as much a craft as an art, and that it extends all the way to how you seal the wine in the bottle. A fabulous start to dinner, and then we poured the chardonnay ...


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