A Guide to Australian Riesling Wine

 

We have a sweet spot for Australian Riesling wine at Austin’s and in our latest blog we demystify some of the myths about this unsung variety. 

Riesling – The King of Wine

Riesling, known as the King of Wines to those in the know, but to casual Aussie drinkers, it’s had a bit of a bad rap in recent years.

From the 1960s right through to the ‘90s, riesling was generally recognised as being a bit too sweet and rather bland – but there’s a reason for this. The savvy drinkers of today would be much less likely to fall for the marketing hoo-ha.

We play pretty fast and loose with labelling terms here in Australia, and in the past, all sorts of things have been labelled “Riesling”.  Not just wine made from the riesling grape, but a certain style of sickly sweet stuff, made from a plethora of varieties…  even sultanas!  To add to the confusion, the name also came with numerous prefixes like “Hunter Riesling” (which was actually semillon) and “Clare Riesling” (made from a grape called crouchen, which has fortunately fallen right off the radar).

Riesling also sadly became associated with many proprietary wines like Blue Nun, Ben Ean Moselle and Black Tower. This no doubt all helped lower any great expectation we may have had for this venerable variety.  The good stuff was always referred to as “Rhine Riesling”, in honour of its origin – but this is actually what riesling is meant to be.

Riesling – Best value white wine going around

Today it’s just “riesling” but the good news is, because it’s a style that’s fallen out of favour – it’s probably the best value white wine around!  It’s usually the first wine we look for, perusing the restaurant wine list, assured that we’re bound to find something utterly delicious and at a reasonable price. And what better way to start your meal, than with a plate of oysters and a lime infused riesling with a refreshingly clean bite?

Today’s rieslings are a cut above those poor imitations of the past. Now most modern winemakers approach the variety with great respect, they acknowledge its delicate nature, to make with attention to detail and great care.

Riesling at our Geelong vineyard

At Austin’s, our Riesling grapes grow on a steep slope with a southerly aspect, so enjoys slightly cooler growing conditions than the rest of our vineyards, which helps slow down the ripening rate. Coupled with a deep loamy soil strewn with limestone deposits, we have all the right conditions to produce fragrant, delicate riesling with a steely backbone and slatey minerality. Just the tiniest amount of residual sugar to balance out the natural acidity is done according to the vintage.

We also aim to do a couple picks of riesling to create a range of flavours in the wine. Picked early we see the lime and lemon shine through, and as riesling ripens on the vine it takes on more floral notes… this all happens between 10.5 and 12.5 Baume. Picked later we see more tropical fruit notes and lower acidity.

Austin’s Riesling Varietals

 

“We decided to plant riesling in 1982 at our Waurn Ponds vineyard because it’s a style of wine that we love!  Riesling was not grown in the Geelong area at this time and we believed it had a strong future and we wanted to be part of its renaissance. I personally love the freshness and crispness of a young riesling and also there is nothing like and aged riesling.”  – Pam Austin

Austin’s Riesling

Austin's Riesling Wine

Our Austin’s Riesling is a vibrant and juicy wine with the zest of fresh lime and a dash of minerality.  Treat this vibrant white wine like you would a freshly squeezed lime or lemon. Pair its acidity with a platter of oysters for Christmas Day, or try with salty cheeses like Camembert or fresh goats curd.  The grapes are picked in the cool of the night and the juice is gently extracted.

But don’t just take our word for it – with a sweet 96 points from the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion, we’re not the only ones that believe this is an “exceptional” wine.

Austin’s Late Harvest Riesling

Late Harvest Riesling

Looking for a dessert wine that isn’t too sweet?  Our limited release Late Harvest Riesling will delight those that typically don’t enjoy sweet wine and still please those that like a sweet drop.  Sweet enough to pair with a dessert such as a crème brûlée but with enough acidity and mineral crunch to be a palate cleanser between courses. A creamy cheese will pair perfectly with a glass of this delicious sticky wine.

Rated as one of the top three Australian sweet wines of 2020 by Halliday Wine Companion. This is a small batch wine to taste, sip and savour.

So for those with their finger on the pulse – it’s time to jump on the Australian riesling wine bandwagon and let it take its rightful place next to those deliciously aged chardonnays in your wine rack.

Quick – before everyone else catches on!

  • – John Durham

Australian Riesling Wine

Riesling Grapes from our Geelong vineyard

Austin's Geelong Riesling grown on a steep slope with southerly aspect

 

One thought on “A Guide to Australian Riesling Wine

Leave a Reply