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95-to-98 point Australian Rieslings - April 2018

The April 2018 edition of Decanter (www.decanter.com) featured a panel review of Australian Riesling - from across Australia's cooler regions - drawn from all of Tasmania, South Australia (especially the Clare and Eden Valleys), Western Australia, NSW and Victoria.

There were 2 Exceptionals (98+), 14 Outstandings (95+) and 66 Highly Recommendeds (90+). The first two categories average just £17 a bottle. 

Let us tell you more.

Of those two Exceptionals (a rare accolade indeed), one remains firmly unavailable in the UK.

The other one - the Pauletts Polish Hill River Riesling 2014 - could be sourced, as we had it ... but we have now well-and-truly (really, we really have) sold out of our allocation of both this and its older, highly-rated sister (the 96-point 2010 Aged Release version).

But... we have taken stock of the "current" 2017 'standard' and 2012 Aged Release versions - and both are quite excellent. We understand a strong instinct among customers to plump only for the rated vintages; however, we do recommend the information on vintage quality that we've included on the 2017 vintage's product page. Wine Enthusiast rate the 2017 Clare valley vintage as a 97-point year, and 2012 as a 93; high scores indeed. The 2017 vintage is rapidly becoming recognised as the best Clare Valley Riesling vintage for some 20 years.

We've tasted (quite extensively) all 4 of the Pauletts wines, and, frankly, they are hard to pick apart, aside from the gathering age effect. The 2012 is a particularly fine choice for Riesling 'petrolheads'!

 

Pauletts Polish Hill River Riesling 2017

£13.15

 

 

Pauletts Aged Release Polish Hill River Riesling 2012

£15.90

 

The 4 remaining Outstandings are quite excellent (I personally rate the Lehmann Wigan as the pick of the whole review, but then I go mad for the whole 'petrol thing') and will make up an excellent Riesling case:

  • There was the 96-point Peter Lehmann Wigan 2012 (again, with all the age development flavours from 6 years in the bottle); <the 2013 is now current vintage>

Peter Lehmann Masters 'Wigan' 2013

£19.85

 

  • And then the 95-point and celebrated (but a-bit-more-pricey) Grosset Polish Hill 2017 (£30.60); alas the 2017 has all gone, and 2018 is now the current vintage:

Grosset Polish Hill Clare Valley Riesling 2018

£30.60

 

The entire field (that we stock) from this panel tasting - or their available-vintage equivalents - along with their reviews from Decanter - can be seen and bought below.

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Pauletts Polish Hill River Riesling 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage of this wine was a huge hit when it featured in Decanter (www.decanter.com) recently. The current 2017 vintage is now newly available and also superb; indeed, as the below vintage table (also from Decanter) shows, 2017 is already talked of by some as the best Riesling vintage in Australia for over 15 years.

The 2014 vintage was awarded 98 points and rare Exceptional status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling  (see blue link below) .

Pauletts Polish Hill River Riesling 2014 - April 2018 Decanter review

See also here for Decanter's assessment of Australian Riesling vintages (click blue link below).

Decanter Australian vintage summary

Clare Valley is one of Australia`s oldest wine regions and is probably best known for its Riesling wines. Polish Hill River is a sub-region one and a half hours drive north from Adelaide. Named after the Polish settlers of the mid 1800s, the climate is ideal for premium grape growing with a combination of consistently good winter rains, hot summers tempered by cool nights and a long ripening period.

Pauletts' reputation for producing wines of finesse, elegance and intensity is justly deserved with consistent skill and care from vintage to vintage. Neil Paulett graduated from the Roseworthy oenology course in the early 1970s and spent a further ten years honing his winemaking skills at Penfolds before buying his own property in the Clare Valley. Located some 90 minutes north of Adelaide,this lovely property now extends to 150 hectares with 47 planted with vines. Since the first vintage in 1983 there have been many accolades both at home and internationally. These wines are a true reflection of the region and are of outstanding quality.

The Clare Valley yields one of the world`s great styles of Riesling. This youthful, aromatic, dry wine has intense mineral and floral aromas on the nose. These aromas follow through on the palate leading to flavours of lime, citrus and white blossom. Tropical fruits and citrus dominate the fresh, racy acidity and a distinct minerality comes through on the palate leaving a fantastic, clean finish.

This wine is a good choice to accompany seafood, especially prawn, crab, oysters and bass and mildly spiced Thai stir fry and seafood curries.

£13.15

Pauletts Aged Release Polish Hill River Riesling 2012 (1x75cl)

** ONLY ~80 BOTTLES REMAIN UNTIL END OF VINTAGE ON UK STOCKS **

Awarded a Platinum medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

The 2010 vintage of this wine was a huge hit when it featured in Decanter (www.decanter.com) recently, being awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Rieslings. The 2014 vintage scored 98 points and was rated Outstanding (see blue links below).

Pauletts (Aged Release) Polish Hill River Riesling 2010 - April 2018 Decanter review

Pauletts Polish Hill River Riesling 2014 - April 2018 Decanter review

See also here for Decanter's assessment of Australian Riesling vintages (click blue link below).

Decanter Australian vintage summary

And, for extra info, here's Paulett's own data sheet/fiche technique on the 2012 (published before being badged as an Aged Release, but exactly (and we mean exactly) the same wine!).

Pauletts Polish Hill River Riesling 2012 - fiche technique

Clare Valley is one of Australia`s oldest wine regions and is probably best known for its Riesling wines. Polish Hill River is a sub-region one and a half hours drive north from Adelaide. Named after the Polish settlers of the mid 1800s, the clim2ate is ideal for premium grape growing with a combination of consistently good winter rains, hot summers tempered by cool nights and a long ripening period.

Pauletts' reputation for producing wines of finesse, elegance and intensity is justly deserved with consistent skill and care from vintage to vintage. Neil Paulett graduated from the Roseworthy oenology course in the early 1970s and spent a further ten years honing his winemaking skills at Penfolds before buying his own property in the Clare Valley. Located some 90 minutes north of Adelaide,this lovely property now extends to 150 hectares with 47 planted with vines. Since the first vintage in 1983 there have been many accolades both at home and internationally. These wines are a true reflection of the region and are of outstanding quality.

Neil Paulett holds back a small parcel of Riesling from the most successful vintages for an extended maturation in the winery`s cellar. After 5 years this dry Riesling has blossomed into an expressive golden wine, with a nose of lemon zest and acacia with hints of honey and toast but with an underlining crispness. Citrus flavours of lime are evident and with a delightful freshness and acidity through to the finish.

This wine is superb with oysters and prawns or spicy Asian dishes.

£15.90

Peter Lehmann Masters `Wigan` Riesling 2013 (1x75cl)

The 2012 vintage was awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling  (see blue link below) .

Peter Lehmann Masters Wigan Riesling 2012 - April 2018 Decanter review

Peter Lehmann, with 33 vintages already under his belt, started his own winery in 1979, partly as a means of helping with the glut of grapes then afflicting the Barossa. "I'll take your grapes and turn them into wine," he told the desperate growers, many of them conservative farmers of Silesian descent who regarded their old vines as part of their patrimony. "But I'll only be able to pay you when I sell the wine." They gratefully accepted. Without this deal, it is widely thought that the Barossa would have lost a huge chunk of its old vines. The 'Masters' wines are made from the parcels regarded by the winemakers as the best Semillon, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz of the vintage.

Known for producing truly world class Riesling, the soils of the Eden Valley are shallow and rocky. The fruit for this wine comes from the William Hurn - Ross' Block single vineyard.

The 2013 vintage came early and was one of the driest and quickest for many years. The weather remained warm to hot throughout, but without any extended heat waves. The small crop produced outstanding wines that show delicacy and great purity of fruit.

The grapes were picked early and fermented cold in stainless steel for two weeks before clarification. Bottling took place immediately, then the wine was cellared at the winery for five years prior to release.

The 2013 'Wigan' Riesling is delicate in colour with youthful highlights, and a soft aroma of lime cordial combined with toasty characters. The palate shows great fruit purity with a fresh, crisp, dry finish. This is one of the classic Wigan Rieslings from an exceptional vintage, which will age well.

£19.85

Grosset Polish Hill Clare Valley Riesling 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling  (see blue link below) .

Grosset Polish Hill Clare Valley Riesling 2017 - April 2018 Decanter review

Jeffrey Grosset established his winery in 1981 in the historic township of Auburn, Clare Valley, 100 kilometres north of Adelaide. The winery is stylish and functional and reflects the attention to detail that extends to the Grosset estate-owned vineyards and winemaking. Jeff is best known for his Rieslings which have shown a consistency of style and quality, making this one of Australia’s greatest wineries. By combining a disciplined approach and decades of experience, Grosset consistently achieves the purest expression of variety and place.

The eight hectare Polish Hill vineyard (ACO certified organic) is planted at 460 metres altitude and just five kilometres from Springvale. The low fertility soils of this hard rock site are composed of silt and shallow shales over a thin crust of clay and gravel. The vines have to work harder than those at Springvale and so produce small, thick skinned berries with bunches weighing just 100 grams.

The 2018 vintage was very dry, with less than average rainfall. The dry conditions meant that the vines struggled to ripen resulting in smaller berries and yields. With every vintage, it becomes clear that the vines have a unique resilience to changing seasonal conditions. The grapes harvested were in pristine condition resulting in fresh, vibrant and well-balanced wines.

The organic grapes were hand harvested between 5th - 9th March and delivered promptly to the winery in small parcels, where they were crushed and destemmed. The fruit was then gently pressed and settled in tank for five days at 0°C. Only the free run juice was used. A small proportion was whole-bunch pressed. Six separate ferments took place according to clone and vine age before blending and bottling.

The 2018 has aromas of lavender, herbs, lime and a hint of chalk. Framed by a pure natural acidity, the concentrated palate is pure lime juice and lemon pith with a characteristic shaley minerality. Tight, fine and steely with a long, bone dry finish.

To see an informative information sheet, tasting note and reviews for this wine, please click on the blue link below.

Grosset Polish Hill Clare Valley Riesling 2018 - fiche technique

£30.55

Peter Lehmann Hill & Valley Eden Valley Riesling 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling  (see blue link below). This vintage has now just depleted (it's amazing it lasted as long as it did), but the 2016 seems equally excellent!

Peter Lehmann H&V Riesling 2015 - April 2018 Decanter review

Peter Lehmann, with 33 vintages already under his belt, started his own winery in 1979, partly as a means of helping with the glut of grapes then afflicting the Barossa. "I'll take your grapes and turn them into wine," he told the desperate growers, many of them conservative farmers of Silesian descent who regarded their old vines as part of their patrimony. "But I'll only be able to pay you when I sell the wine." They gratefully accepted. Without this deal, it is widely thought that the Barossa would have lost a huge chunk of its old vines. The 'Hill & Valley' wines are made from fruit selected, often from single vineyards, in the Barossa Valley and from the higher reaches of the adjacent Eden Valley.

The grapes were sourced from John and Liz Stanton and Mark and Deborah Petney's vineyards on the Eastern slopes of Eden Valley. This east-facing side is particularly cool as it lies over 400m above sea level on acidic sandy soils, ideal for enhancing the natural acid balance of an exceptional Riesling.

The fruit was picked early, crushed, chilled and the juice immediately separated from the skins to enhance delicacy. Following cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine was clarified and bottled.

Early picking has produced a fresh, lively Riesling with a delicate green tinge and hints of freshly picked limes. The palate shows great fruit purity with a refreshingly crisp, dry finish. It is a wine that can be drunk now or aged with confidence for a few years where it will develop the complexity expected of a top flight Eden Valley Riesling.

£13.65

Larry Cherubino Laissez Faire Porongorup Riesling 2018 (1x75cl)

Named ‘Winery of the Year’ by James Halliday and Matt Skinner, Larry Cherubino wants his wines to be distinctive and to speak clearly of their variety and vineyard site. He believes in paying meticulous attention to the vineyard, canopy and water management, picking at the right time and minimal intervention in the winery. Larry also makes wine under the Laissez Faire label, an exquisite range of natural wines which are the ultimate expression of site, made in small batches from hand harvested grapes. From delicate whites to opulent reds, all his wines have pure class and finesse.

The grapes are grown in a south facing vineyard in the Porongurup sub region, which was planted in 1998 at a density of 1,800 vines per hectare. The vines are all on their own rootstocks. The vineyard is irrigated to achieve the optimal amount of moisture required.

With a focus on natural winemaking, this is made in small batches from handharvested grapes. The fruit was whole bunch pressed. The juice was then settled without the addition of enzymes, sulphur or acid. Once settled, it was allowed to ferment naturally at a low temperature for six weeks.

This wine is 100% Riesling.

A bouquet reminiscent of red apple and white peach, with mineral overtones. White stone fruit flavours follow through on the palate, with a subtle texture and a tight knit acidity lingering in the background, which provides length and persistence. Stunning with Prosciutto-wrapped tiger prawns and a pickled vegetable slaw.

£18.35

Clos Clare Watervale Riesling 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling  (see blue link below) .

Clos Clare Watervale Riesling 2016 - April 2018 Decanter review

The story behind clos Clare (sic) is fast becoming a legendary tale and has earned a place in the Clare Valley’s winemaking history. This tiny, two hectare vineyard was originally part of the celebrated Florita vineyard in the Clare Valley subregion of Watervale, famed for producing outstanding dry Riesling. In 1986, Mark, Peter and John Barry purchased the whole Florita vineyard and sold off the small corner of the vineyard to a local artist, Ian Sanders and clos Clare was born. Today’s label is an original design by Ian Sanders. In 2007, Peter and Sue Barry purchased clos Clare, which by now had forged a reputation for producing one of Australia’s finest dry Rieslings. clos Clare is now run by their sons, Tom and Sam, the third generation of the Barry family and grandsons of Jim Barry, a pioneer of Clare Valley winemaking. For outstanding Clare Valley Rieslings, look no further.

In 2016 the Clare Valley had ideal fruit set promising above average yields; then a hot December reduced yield expectations. Rains in late January and early February completely altered the yield forecasts with a 20% surge. Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon were the standouts.

Located in the prestigious Watervale subregion of the Clare Valley, the vineyard itself is over 70 years old, although the Riesling vines were replanted 46 years ago. Situated in the south-west corner of the former La Florita vineyard, the clos Clare vineyard comprises two hectares. The vines are dry-grown, which is facilitated by the clay content of the soil, as it helps to retain the moisture to nourish the vine. The canopy management techniques used in the vineyard differ according to the orientation of the vine: the north-facing vines are exposed to the sun, while the southfacing vines are protected by the canopy vegetation.

The fruit was hand-picked during the latter part of February and was immediately chilled for 24 hours, prior to whole bunch pressing. The juice was completely racked off its solids after approximately 48 hours and fermented. The fermentation process took place without lees agitation or stirring and once the fermentation was complete, it was racked off its lees. Oxygen was not purposely introduced at any stage, as the wine was made as reductively as possible.

A hand crafted wine showing poise, elegance and character. Delicate aromas of lemons and limes, carry through onto the palate. The palate shows great balance between citrus fruit and the hallmark acidity of the 2016 vintage.

The Watervale Riesling is a stunning accompaniment to shellfish and fish dishes or with Asian influenced cuisine.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians but not vegans.

£20.45

Dandelion Vineyards Enchanted Garden of the Eden Valley Riesling 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling.  (see blue link below) .

Dandelion Enchanted Riesling 2016 - April 2018 Decanter review

Dandelion Vineyards is the venture of self-titled 'typist' Zar Brooks, his winemaking wife Elena and growers Carl Lindner and Brad Rey, with wines made from the Barossa and Eden Valleys, Fleurieu and McLaren Vale. Nick Stock, one of Australia's leading journalists, has described Dandelion as follows: "Brooks has teamed up with his winemaking wife Elena, a woman whose talents are outweighed only by her tolerance, in an exciting new venture called Dandelion Vineyards. The approach is remarkably simple and sees Elena making wine from a suite of beautiful old vineyards identified by Carl Lindner and Brad Rey across that blessed curve that runs from the Barossa, up through the Eden Valley and Adelaide Hills and down into McLaren Vale".

Dandelion Vineyards are proven plantings that have stood the test of time, encouraging the humble dandelion amongst the vines as they suppress winter weeds, provide mulch in summer, and proffer their Wishing Clocks in spring to blow off and make the Dandelion wish come true. The Enchanted Garden was planted in 1910 and thrives to this day, a seven acre Eden Valley Vine Garden lovingly tended by Sue and Stuart Woodman.

Whole bunches were hand picked, then destemmed without crushing the fruit to fill the press exactly. The free-run juice and pressings were fermented separately in small tanks between 11-13°C. The wine was bottled directly with minimal fining and filtration.

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Dandelion.

Dandelion Vineyards Enchanted Garden Of The Eden Valley Riesling 2018 - fiche technique

This wine is 100% Riesling.

The appearance of this Riesling foretells the pristine quality of its fruit. Classic aromas of citrus zest, lemon foliage and hints of dragon fruit flowers are etched by a clear steely minerality. This is an attractively textural wine displaying the variety's intense purity. Bone-dry, its structure and length is underpinned by bracing acidity.

£13.90

Henschke Julius Riesling 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling (see blue link below).

Henschke Julius 2017 - April 2018 Decanter review

Today, it is fifth-generation winemaker Stephen Henschke and his viticulturist wife Prue at the helm of Henschke, passionately upholding the family name and reputation. Stephen and Prue continue to craft their white wines with a focus on purity, while their red wines have a strong focus on terroir, using traditional winemaking techniques. Stephen's thoughts on their work: “Prue and I are the current ‘keepers of the flame’. Just as earlier generations have done, we want to manage the vineyards and winery so they can be passed on to the next generation in better condition than we inherited them. Our vision would not be complete without the expectation that future generations will uphold and perpetuate our belief that such ancient and unique single-vineyard sites can produce exceptional wines that are prized for their beauty and rarity.”

Cyril Henschke developed the Henschke reputation for premium riesling wines as early as the 1950s from the vineyard areas of Eden Valley, Keyneton and Springton in the Eden Valley wine region. This region provides ideal ripening conditions for the riesling grape and has a unique track record of exceptional ageing potential for the variety. The Eden Valley riesling vineyard is planted on sandy loam over gravel and bedrock with patches of clay. The wine is named after ancestor Julius Henschke, a highly acclaimed artist and sculptor.

For a full description of this wine, we would direct you to the data sheet/fiche technique from Henschke themselves (click blue link below)

Henschke Julius Riesling 2017 - fiche technique

£26.15

Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling  (see blue link below).

Clonakilla Riesling 2017 - April 2018 Decanter review

Dr John Kirk founded Clonakilla vineyard at Murrumbateman, 40 kilometres north of Canberra, in 1971 after his scientific curiosity led him to question why vines were not being grown in this area. His research showed that the soil and climate seemed suited to certain varieties. Clonakilla means 'meadow of the church' and is the name of theDr Kirk's grandfather's farm in County Clare, Ireland. In 1997 Tim Kirk, the fourth of John's six sons, took over responsibility for winemaking. Today, Clonakilla is recognised as one of the leading estates in Australia. Tim was named Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year in 2013.

Riesling has been grown at Clonakilla since 1971, and John Kirk used it to make the Canberra District's first commercial vintage in 1976. The fruit for the 2017 Riesling comes from estate owned vineyards around the winery, planted on fertile soils on a bed of decomposed granite. At 600 metres above sea level, the grapes benefit from a cool, continental climate, with warm days and cool nights that extend the ripening season.

Winter rains set up an ideal growing season which sustained the fruit through a warm summer and classic cool climate ripening period. Harvest took place in March 2017.

The grapes were whole bunch pressed, with the clear juice fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures. The wine was stabilised and bottled three months after picking, in June 2017.

A pale straw green Riesling, with ripe lime, citrus and floral notes paving the way for a crisp, fresh palate. Beautiful natural, mineral acidity gives the wine great texture and length.

£25.20

Howard Park Mount Barker Riesling 2017 (1 x 75cl)

Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling  (see blue link below).

Howard Park Mt Barker Riesling 2017 - April 2018 Decanter review

Howard Park Wines is Western Australia’s largest family owned and operated boutique winery, responsible for such brands as Howard Park and MadFish. Established in 1986, Howard Park is one of the original pioneers of the cool climate Great Southern region known for its rich ancient soils and elevated vineyard sites, and the iconic Margaret River wine region built on a vision of crafting outstanding handcrafted wines with an uncompromising commitment to quality. Viticulture and winemaking are carried out with minimal intervention and organic & biodynamic practices employed. Howard Park produces wines of international standing that are noted for their rare balance of elegance and power showing a consistency of style and quality which is the hallmark of enduring great wines.

From its beginnings, Howard Park has made Riesling from the Great Southern wine region of Western Australia. Riesling is demanding, sensitive yet tough enough to thrive in the vagaries of this cool climate. Wines made of Riesling grapes are exceptionally revealing and critical of the environment in which they grow and the human interactions engaged to create them.

Each vineyard block is vinified separately in stainless steel tanks. After settling bright, the free run juice is racked before a long and cold fermentation to preserve freshness and fine fruit flavours. After a light milk fining and filtration, the wine is bottled.

Heady notes of lime skin, fresh citrus and star anise fill the bouquet. The palate’s s lively citrus and green pear is enriched with lemon curd, baked apple and quince. A soft wet stone feel, adds texture to the palate and the balanced acidity, a guiding line. This wine has distinct fruit, floral and spice notes, generosity, length of flavour and fine balance.

This wine pairs well with seafood - especially oysters and can be cellared for up to 20 years.

£15.50
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