At a recent WSET Diploma class focusing on Australia, we were forewarned the instructor’s goal was to ensure we all left with a more holistic view of Australian wines and indeed, of the country itself.
It’s the size of Western Europe, yet if you canvas the average person for what he or she thinks of when first asked about Australia, you’ll hear about beaches, koalas and ‘barbies’ – and for wine, it’s Shiraz, Shiraz, Shiraz.
Now, there is nothing wrong with Shiraz. In fact, it’s definitely one of my favourite varieties. But when it comes to Australia, it is vital to remember there is more than meets the eye; the country is more than a one trick pony to be sure. As Canadians, we should not be surprised by this; after all, no one thinks we make anything other than ice wine, live in igloos and work as lumberjacks.
So, clear your heads of stereotypical misconceptions and accept it; Australia encompasses all varieties of macro-climates including alpine, desert, mediterranean and Bordeaux type maritime environments. And yes, while the Shiraz, GSM and other blends are to die for – along with the ‘stickies’ – Australia is just as adept at cool climate varieties and wines – using Chardonnay, Semillon and in this case, Riesling.
This Eden Valley winery was first established in 1847 by Joseph Gilbert, an Englishman who jumped at the chance to sail to a new life and 15,000 acres of land just 40 km outside of Adelaide in South Australia.
He named his property Pewsey Vale after where he’d grown up in England and proceeded to plant what was the very first vineyard in the Eden Valley at an altitude of 440-490 m in the cool hills surrounding the Barossa Valley (that lies directly to the north). Eden Valley is particularly well known for its lime-accented Rieslings – as well as its Shiraz. In fact, the famed Hill of Grace Vineyard owned by the Henschke family literally lies directly to the southeast of Pewsey Vale Vineyard.
This Riesling wine is clear and bright, pale yellow-green with light legs. On the nose it’s got great minerality and developing TDN (tri-hydro-dinapthalene) giving the petrol character so desired by wine geeks the world over, along with medium plus aromas of lemon, lime and stone fruit.
The palate is dry with high acidity, medium alcohol and medium plus flavours of pink grapefruit, bergamot, lemon zest, white pear, a bit of clover honey and more petrol. The finish is a solid medium plus.
Absolutely lovely and at the top end of the WSET ‘very good’ spectrum with a nice balance between fruit, acidity and flavour/aroma complexity. This will continue to age for 5-8 years; the acidity will continue to embrace and allow it to develop. It accompanied our ‘Welcome to 2014’ family ham dinner beautifully.