Saturday, February 9, 2013

Australian Riesling from Jacob's Creek and Chateau Tanunda

Riesling isn't the first thing you associate with Australia, to say nothing of wine from Australia. There is a surprising amount grown on that continent though. I had a few samples from some bigger producers sitting around and decided to open them all at once to do a mini exploration of the Barossa region. Three wines isn't enough to form a working knowledge of Aussie riesling but it's still important to pay attention to similarities across each wine.

First, some history. According to historical records, riesling was first planted way back in 1838 in the New South Wales territory. From then until the 90's, it was the most planted white variety. Chardonnay took it's place during that decade. Figures. These days we can find rieslings at almost every price point from Australia, and the grape is finding success in the Eden Valley area, where the cooler climate helps keep that ever-important acidity alive.

One of the themes that carried through each wine was how the citrus elements - lemon and lime - dominated the flavor palette. My experience with German and Pacific Northwest rieslings has mostly held the citrus elements as more integrated, contrasting against stone fruit richness. Not so in Barossa, where these three all showed strong citrus with only the barest hint of stone fruit flavor.

2010 Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Riesling: Lemons and limes on the nose, flint, and a bit of white flower. Pleasantly dry on the palate with plenty of acidity that highlights flavors of lemon and lime, stone fruit, and a tiny bit of minerality. While not complex, this is still a fun, refreshing white wine that would pair nicely with lighter fare. 11.5% abv. $11.99 srp.






2011 Jacob's Creek Dry Riesling South Australia: Very simple aromatically. Citrus and hints of stone fruit with not much else. Similarly basic on the palate with bracing acidity. I liked the purity of flavor and the clean finish, which was decently long even. There simply isn't a lot going on here and it shows, but for the price it's certainly of good quality. 11.4% abv. $7.99 srp.






2010 Jacob's Creek Reserve Dry Riesling Barossa: Opens with aromas of petrol, struck match, lemon, and lime. Secondary aromas of white flowers come through after the wine has been open for a bit. I like the mouthfeel, dry but not straining to be austere. Plenty of flavor in the form of stone fruit, lemon, and lime all come through. Out of the three, this is the most complex and pleasing. 12.5% abv. $12.99 srp.







I wasn't sure what to expect with these wines but they pleasantly surprised me. I'd happily drink the Jacob's Creek Reserve because it's so fun and zesty. I admire Jacob's Creek for keeping quality high despite producing a veritable ocean of wine. If you are looking for inexpensive yet reliable riesling that is just slightly off the beaten path, these might be for you. Consider them a good introduction to one of the many facets of the grape.

These wines were media samples for review purposes.

Beau Carufel

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