I’m in California, working in our San Francisco and Napa offices and visiting a few wineries.
I arrived in San Francisco on Thursday, just as my colleague Harvey Steiman was finishing up a tasting. “Do you want to taste some Australian Riesling?” he asked.
Twist my arm. I had just spent five and a half hours on a plane from New York.
There was a collection of 25 Rieslings in all, ranging from Yellow Tail 2006 to the Pewsey Vale Eden Valley The Contours Museum Reserve 2002. I had never had such an assortment of Aussie Rieslings to choose from and quickly got to work.
As I tasted through, I was thinking how these Australian Rieslings differed from the Rieslings I usually taste in our New York office—those from Alsace, Austria and Germany.
The first thing that struck me was the dryness. Aussie Rieslings are bone dry, weighing in at 12 to 13 percent alcohol by volume. A few European Rieslings are this dry, but most will have five to seven grams of residual sugar. There are some that have even more R.S., giving them an off-dry feel.
The difference is that the Australian versions are acidified to raise the pH and give them more verve. In the European regions, the acidity is natural.
I was also impressed with the vibrant citrus and floral aromas and flavors. The best had plenty of grapefruit, lime and even nectarine flavors. There was little of the petrol note, with one or two exceptions.
My favorites had lovely balance between these citrus flavors, the lively acidity and expressed length and depth.
The other major difference between the Aussie examples and the Europeans is the mineral notes. I found fewer examples with the strong undercurrent of mineral that I find so appealing in the Mosel or Wachau.
I particularly liked the Pewsey Vale Eden Valley The Contours Museum Reserve 2002 ($NA). It showed the potential of Riesling from Australia to develop with time in the bottle. It had gotten complex, taking on some quince, honey and beeswax aromas and flavors. Unfortunately, very little is imported.
The Pewsey Vale Eden Valley 2007 ($20), on the other hand, was a live wire, packed with lime and mineral notes. We took that along with us to Kabuto Sushi, a restaurant that I highly recommend. I hadn’t been to Kabuto in years and was pleased to see that its fish was still fresh and beautifully presented, despite a new chef and a move across the street.
I also liked the Leasingham Clare Valley The Magnus 2006 ($12), a nectarine-tinged Petaluma Clare Valley Hanlin Hill and the racy Leeuwin Margaret River Art Series 2006 ($22).
Oh, there was another difference. All but one were under screw cap.
Jason Kadushin — Seattle, WA — August 27, 2007 6:15pm ET
John Miller — Windsor, CA — August 27, 2007 6:53pm ET
Jason Thompson — Foster City, CA — August 27, 2007 11:07pm ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — September 6, 2007 9:21am ET
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