Discovering great Riesling in the Clare Valley

Have you discovered the allure of this classic variety? Let’s unravel some of the mysteries of Riesling, and why an aged Riesling might just change the way you look at wine.

What’s to love about Riesling?

Riesling has long been admired for its mouth-watering acidity, pure fruit flavours, astonishing diversity of styles – sweet and dry and its ability to age wonderfully.

It is a variety that strongly reflects and represents where it’s grown, so if you are a believer in drinking wines that have a really tangible connection to where they come from and wines that have a real sense of place, then Riesling is the variety to seek out.

The flexibility of Riesling also makes it a firm favourite amongst foodies, because it’s a wine that can be enjoyed young or matured, and this luxury of choice doubles the possibilities of food matching and pairing.

Why is Clare Valley famous for Riesling?

Riesling’s history dates back to the 1400s, originally hailing from Germany, where it continues to reign supreme, in terms of the volume produced. Of course, Riesling has always been important in Australia as well – especially the wines made here in the Clare Valley, with the production of some truly outstanding world-class Rieslings. Riesling has been commercially grown in Clare since the 1860’s.

It’s a delicate grape that absolutely thrives in the cooler climates and vineyards of our region, and according to Australia’s foremost wine commentator, James Halliday, Clare Valley is the monarch of Australia’s Riesling regions.

The Clare Valley is perfect for Riesling, as its topography is very diverse, having elevated vineyard sites that vary from 250 to 550 meters above sea level. It also has a real diversity of soil types, from shaly, slatey hard rock sites such as around Polish Hill River and parts of the Skilly Valley to a greater prevalence of soft loam over limestone soil profiles that can be found throughout Watervale. All these factors create real excitement in creating wines that identify strongly with Clare but are also fiercely individual depending on the sites they came from.

Young or aged Riesling. Which is better?

Understandably, many people like to drink their white wines young, like other white varietals such as Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Most Rieslings are indeed made for early drinking. It’s the crisp, fruity aromatics and acidity that make a young Riesling so appealing, and they’re at their most boisterous, zesty and identifiable.

After five to ten years of maturing, a good Riesling will soften and change. The youthful characteristics of fresh lime and citrus notes transform into flavours such as buttered toast, marmalade, citrus rind, honey and a more approachable acid core. They offer greater depth and complexity with rich honey notes and smoky undertones.

How to Cellar Riesling?

Because of its firm acid structure and sugar levels, Riesling can age beautifully for many decades, and actually boasts some of the longest life expectancies for wine.

When deciding to lay Riesling down for a while, it’s always wise to seek out winemakers who make Riesling with cellaring in mind, and who utilise grapes that have higher natural acidities that enable them to age

Don’t worry too much about whether the wine has a true cork or a screw despite nearly all new world winemakers use screw capsule for 100% peace of mind. Once you’ve got the bottles home, store them in a cool, dark space where there is minimal fluctuation in temperature. Just make sure that wines with a true cork are laid on their sides to keep the cork moist, while screw top bottles can be stored upright.

Purchasing Aged Riesling

If you’re looking to expand your palate, why not explore our full range of Rieslings? These include our current and cellar releases where we have already done the ageing and careful cellaring for your immediate enjoyment.

At your next dinner party, perhaps offer a young and an aged Riesling for a mini vertical tasting. The younger wines pair really well with seafood and more mature ones can easily hold up against rich chicken dishes, creamy risottos and even Asian curries.


Author - Kevin Mitchell