I love Viognier, so to continue my theme of tasting Australian vinos, I decided to throw this nugget into my imaginary wine.com “basket” since I was already paying a flat rate for shipping, and online shopping is make believe anyway—until the bill and box show up. The d’Arenberg is actually a blend of 72% Viognier and 28% Marsanne, similar to styles found in the Southern Rhone of France. Mmmm—getting excited for this one.
First, a few winery facts, if you care: d’Arenberg vineyard was founded in McLaren Vale in 1912 by a teetotaler, crazy enough. The winery is well-regarded in Australia, and their wines are prolific in the U.S., at least more so than other Aussie producers. The name The Hermit Crab has a two-fold origin: first, deriving from a shortening of “Hermitage”, the region in Southern Rhone known for the Marsanne varietal; second, honoring of the little crustaceans that once crawled the floor of the region, millions of years ago, in the old-timey days of Australia.
Hello, aromatics! One of my favorite sensual enjoyments from a glass of wine is the sniffing. I am like a dog to another’s behind, gathering data and pleasure from the aromas. Yea, bad imagery, but the analogy works. My nose is blasted by juicy pears, apricots and peaches so ripe you really should make a smoothie with them. The palate builds upon that, with layers of citrus pith, grapefruit, almond, spice and the slightest hint of tropical deliciousness. Fairly full-bodied with a touch of oak, this is a marathon wine—two days later, tasting just as fragrant and vibrant as the first. Not life-altering, but could be enthusiastically enjoyed on a summer weekend. $17.49 from wine.com.
Wakefield and Grosset Riesling in a bike basket
Australian Riesling Round-Up
I felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day every time I wrote an Australian Riesling tasting note. “Minerals, acidity, lemon-lime, dry as a Brit’s sense of humor”—yes, most of the wines had some or all of these qualities. If you like this taste profile, try these wines. I found them to be very good to excellent in quality, and aside from one bottle, extremely reasonably priced. If any of the wines are sold-out through my links, try wine-searcher to check for bottles around the country, or the next vintage if the one I reviewed is no longer available. Unfortunately, I have looked back on a few bottles I tasted and discovered they are now tapped out completely in the American market.
After tasting 9 Rieslings, I conclude they offer the following:
- Reliable quality and flavor profile. Across the board, these wines are very consistent in palate. For the wine buyer who doesn’t like to purchase brands they don’t know, this is a good thing. I was a little surprised not to find more variation between the wineries or even Clare and Eden Valley, but at least you know what you are getting yourself into if you can’t find the specific bottle you want. This is also good for Australia—their wines need to achieve regional identity to attract more admirers, and this is aided by consistency.
- Good value. I found many of these wines on sale, most likely because the American wine drinker doesn’t value them. Very few people are storming the stores looking for Australian Rieslings, as evidenced by my inability to find them in local shops. I also imagine the casual wine buyer searching online, for say, white wine on sale on wine.com is not aware that for Australian Riesling, older vintages are better—this goes against the norm of white wine; shoppers may be disinclined to order them, mistakenly thinking they are over the hill. Which brings me to the next suggestion:
- Look for older vintages. The fresh-out-of-the-vineyard wines are full of acidity and could use a year or three to even begin to mellow.
- No need to drop a lot of cash. You can reap the rewards of Australian Riesling in the lower price bracket, as they are well-made wines. If you do splurge for prize wines (Grosset), get the oldest vintage you can find or hold it for several years, to really get the most bang for your buck and enjoy the qualities that make aged Riesling special.
I hope this enlightened some of you to the joys of Australian Riesling. Comments or suggestions are welcome, particularly if you have another bottle to recommend or an idea for the next Untapped Region Series!
Sunglasses reflecting a wine glass in the Hudson Valley
We have reached the final wine in my Australian Riesling review—Pewsey Vale “The Contours” Museum Reserve from the Eden Valley; the most prestigious bottling in the winery’s narrow line-up. The winemakers hold this wine back for an impressive 5 years before it hits shelves, making 2006 the most recent vintage available.
You would never believe this juice was bottled nearly six years ago. The wine exudes freshness and bursts like a citrus-y pop-rock on the tongue: zippy and bright with grapefruit, lemon, lime and green apple. As the wine opens and warms, toast and a touch of honey shine through with hints of Marcona almond and key lime pie. Clearly this bottle can endure many years of wine-ownership, if you have the storage space and the self-restraint. $26.99 at K&L Wines.
LET’S DRINK THIS IN IBIZA, SPAIN!
Late-nights at mega-clubs, drunk Brits and chicks, Euro boys in tight clothes and party sunglasses—this is the European version of Jersey Shore, and for many first-time visitors to Ibiza, their only taste of summer on the island. But with a car and a companion, one can discover all the secrets of this intriguing place— hidden, romantic restaurants; the wild, herb-scented shores of the rocky north coast; gorgeous beaches found by following a footpath coupled with curiosity; and historic villages in which the original islanders still reside. After a day exploring, let’s unscrew a bottle of The Contours, watch the sun set and toast to taking the road less traveled.