Riesling – on the vine and in the glass

10.38am, Friday 25th March, Yalumba Clocktower, Eden Valley, The Barossa
We looked after some trade folks from Ireland and England yesterday, and the weather cooperated nicely by letting us do a Riesling tasting up at Pewsey Vale yesterday afternoon. Several parcels of fruit have already been harvested from the vineyard this week, with really nice zippy natural acids and good solid lime and lemon flavours. So it was great to have the opportunity to show these folks – all first-time visitors to The Barossa – the fruit still on the vine that’s about to come off … in good sound shape.

Camilla, Phillip, Colm, and Gavin

We tried bunches in various parts of the vineyard and found one section of the older vines where the flavour intensities were really jumping – and then set up some glasses to compare the 2010 Pewsey Riesling and 2005 Pewsey Contours (from the terraced north east corner of the vineyard that gives us fruit quite suited to graceful ageing) right there in the middle of it all. Here’s evidence that the sun did actually come out yesterday. From left to right : Camilla (from Wine Australia in London), Phillip (the man in charge at Amps Fine Wines – in England, north of London at Oundle, more or less toward Birmingham), Colm (Sommelier at Ballymaloe House with the fab cookery school and wine weekends, near Cork, in Ireland), and Gavin (man in charge at the Ely Wine bar, right in the heart of downtown Dublin, also Ireland!).

Often we’ll have groups like this come through on very hectic ‘pass the parcel’ style tours, where there’s a lot of ground to cover in not a lot of time – so we made sure we showed the folks things that they may not have been aware of – like illustrating variation within a single vineyard, not forgetting that Pewsey Vale itself is unique, being originally planted in 1861.

We also spent time in the cooperage with Shaun and Craig (our coopers – lovely lean blokes banging away in blue singlets, turning out brand new hogsheads and octaves for this year’s vintage) where the lads bent up a barrel for the group. Again – something a bit different that the folks hadn’t seen before.

And we finished off with dinner at Vintners Bar & Grill, where amongst other things, we dug out a bottle of the 1996 Signature to compare to the 2006 vintage Signature, which is about to be released in both England and Ireland. A lot of folks from overseas have never seen an Australian dry red of 10 years of age – let alone older – so it’s nice to be able to show how well this Cabernet Shiraz style can age over an extended period of time. The 1996 looked lovely – I know that’s not a proper red wine descriptor, but it works. It’s still got licorice and berries up front and is cool through the palate – settled down and velvety, and starting to show a bit of that spice and tobacco that comes with age – but no heat, no aggression, no tar and char.

Like I said … lovely.

The 2006 is going to be a star as well – and that’s not us saying it. That’s our overseas trade folks on the night. It will be a treat to work with the 2006 Signature through May, June and August when we take it on the Rare & Fine roadshow around Australia – then later in September when we trek over to Ireland and England in September.

Vintners scallops

Oh by the way – I’ve not ever put any of the Vintner’s food in my blog – major oversight – so seeing as we started with the Jansz NV Rose – I thought the scallops would go well – here you go – sauteed and sat on steamed broccolini with a dried shrimp and pork relish.

So after visiting Clare on Wednesday and The Barossa yesterday, the crew are heading south today for Adelaide and the McLaren Vale – and will go home now with full information tanks on our part of the winegrowing world. Down the track I have no doubt we’ll catch up with Camilla, Phillip, Colm and Gavin on their home turf – which will be tops. See ya when the mud dries! (Actually, around here right now, that will be a while!)

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