This week the Tasmanian winemakers came to town: and they were really fab. I cannot go far past saying the memorable varieties were riesling and pinot noir, as well as the increased attention given to the so called high grams of sugar riesling (low alcohol, gritty acid, beautiful sweetness).
The big challenge with the latter is when to drink, and how to drink when the German and other northern hemisphere regions growing riesling have long been branded as only “sweet winemakers” decried by palates loving dry.
But there must be a marketplace for these styles if the number of brands making them increases; and consequently if they gradually decline, then we have the true answer! Sweet wine selling is always a grind; even for Chateau D’Yquem.
Back on the dry riesling I was encouraged by the great diversity of Tassie styles; not just ripeness, intensity and prettiness, but more so on texture, layers, cleverly integrated acidity (tastes apparently lower), and additional palate length and shape.
Clearly many makers have their eye on food friendliness rather than just plain fruit purity yet that stays the basis of the wine. There were many rieslings with a backbone of support from acidity but not just lime sherbet fruit sweetness, there was more.
And that’s why these Tassie dudes should come to Queensland more often; to show how cool and cold climate riesling is just so…. good.
I chose not to taste any sauvignon blancs as they are basically second rate citizens in this classy riesling state, but undoubtedly they sell well. Enough.
Julian Allport from Moores Hill vineyard, a small five hectare one, was very animated as his rieslings have recently been widely recognised as gold and trophy standard (2008; USD 40), and worth a good focus.
He presented his 2009 Riesling (USD 26.50) with great poise, a long backbone of acidity without hardness and good texture, acid steely but still soft to make salivation a simple pastime.
Moores Hill are on the West Tamar highway at Sidmouth.
Three kilometres south of Launceston at Relbia, fourth time vigneron Josef Chromy has built a winery at the foot of his sixty hectare vineyard. The Josef Chromy Riesling 2010 (USD 23) was fresh, spiced not limey, restrained not thin with lucrative acidity and a powerful finish-all with 11.5 percent alcohol.
Further south to the Derwent Valley near Hobart, an original Tasmanian brand, Moorilla established in 1958, has experienced a makeover. And what a revision of image and quality, reducing production back to six thousand cases.
Try the Muse Riesling 2008 (USD 25.50) which is refusing to show its age, just sits in the glass looking restrained, and pale colour, tasting savoury and soft on acidity, quite an achievement for drinkability. And its 13.8 percent alcohol.
Maker Conor van deer Reest leaves this on light yeast chasing textural modification, and he is also happy to leave a little skin extract in at the press, again a mouthfeel tactic.
Then Moorilla Praxis Series Riesling 2008 (USD 22) is still pale green but its nose says a faster advance in age than Muse, though not much. There is some more flavour pressure on the palate, this wine is squarer and richer, slightly contrasting its neighbour, at 13.5 percent alcohol.
So drink up Tasmanian riesling; slurpable, acid friendly, mild mannered and easy match with a plethora of food styles.
Also cheers to the outstanding Bruny Island cheese provided by cheesemaker Nick Haddow; his Lewis goat, hard, natural rind will suit Tassie riesling down to the ground.
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