Riesling – 2024 YGOW Awards Feature

Wines Of Now
24 May 2024. Words by YGOW.

Riesling in Australia has experienced a rollercoaster journey, from its heyday in the 1970s to a decline in the 80s due to the rise of chardonnay. Despite this, riesling has always held a special place among wine aficionados for its quality and affordability. Although the predicted ‘riesling renaissance’ took longer than expected, the grape is now being expressed in a myriad of new ways under the care of both seasoned and new winemakers.

Traditionally, Australian riesling was known for its sharp citrus profile, and tooth-aching acidity, primarily sourced from Clare and Eden Valley. This style, defined by its intense mouth-puckering dryness, garnered international acclaim, leading to a peak in popularity. However, the riesling landscape has evolved, with contemporary producers experimenting with winemaking techniques to present diverse expressions of the grape. With this shift comes also a broader regional representation of the best riesling examples in Australia today.

One major challenge for riesling has been overcoming the lingering association with cheap, sweet imports from the past. Despite this, the grape’s ability to express terroir through its transparent yet flavourful profile is being rediscovered. From bone-dry to luscious sweet wines, from skin contact to pét-nats, riesling offers remarkable versatility and character when grown in suitable conditions.

Winemakers in the 2024 YGOW Awards Top 50 include Worlds Apart Wines, Werkstatt, Kenny Wine, Mountadam Vineyards, Chalari, Mac Forbes Wines and Meredith. Wines from these producers are a signal to Australia’s modern riesling renaissance, bringing exciting takes on a classic variety, where a sense of ‘texture’ from riesling in the glass is perhaps the new common theme.

2023 Kenny Wine ‘Polish Hill River’ Riesling, Clare Valley $35 RRP

Lovely balanced and precise aromas of lemon, lemon blossom, lime skin, crushed green apple, a glimmer of cinnamon, jasmine and wet river stone. Pretty, pure and precise. Great intensity on the palate, which has a glow of residual sugar bringing weight and viscosity. Green apple, honeydew melon, lemon juice, lime pith and white florals. Lively and pithy acid draws the palate into a puckery, minerally close.

2023 Worlds Apart Wines ‘In The Flowers’ Riesling, Eden Valley $32 RRP

Green florals, ripe lime, makrut lime leaf, and lemon blossom straight off, underpinned by a saline mineral note. Lovely fresh and hightoned appeal aromatically. There’s an attractive hit of sugar to the palate which is pulled into linear focus by a taut citrus derived fruit profile. Lime juice, lime pith, white lily, and green apple. The residual sugar is guillotined by a firm line of acidity, leading to a balanced and fresh citrus-lled close.

2023 Mountadam Vineyards Riesling, Eden Valley $28 RRP

Pure and lifted aromas of lime, jasmine, lemon, subtle quince, and green apple on the nose. This is classic Eden Valley Riesling, packed with citrus and floral freshness. There’s crystalline fruit to the palate – lime, makrut lime leaf, jasmine and lemon dance through the mouth before a pithy and bracing acid line takes control pulling it long through the palate.

2022 Mac Forbes ‘RS15’ Riesling, Strathbogie Ranges $48 RRP

Red apple, lemon, kumquat, and cinnamon first up, followed by more subtle honeydew melon and lime. Excellent balance, lift and complexity here. Lovely glow of residual sugar to the palate, bringing a lovely viscous texture around melon, apple, lemon, and kumquat. Waves of bright acidity roll through the palate, guillotining the fruit and bringing tension and length to a fresh citrus-infused close.

2023 Werkstatt Mount Gambier Riesling, $33 RRP

Ripe lime, meyer lemon, sea spray, and green apple make way for melon and elderflower. There’s a good hit of residual sugar on the palate, bringing a nice glow of viscous texture. Lemon blossom, melon, lime skin, and lemon are supported by a saline, briney element. A good lick of pithy acidity and firm phenolics pull the sugar and fruit into line for a long, citrus and melon-drenched finish.

2023 Chalari Wines Riesling, Great Southern, $30 RRP

Delicate aromas of green apple, lemon blossom, and jasmine lift from the glass. There’s a prettiness here that draws you in. The palate is balanced and intense, with bursts of lemon, lime pith, green apple, and a glimmer of kumquat. A brisk acid line washes through the palate along with some nice phenolic edge to bring to a long and fresh citrusy close.

2023 Meredith ‘Big Fundamental’ Riesling, Grampians, $28 RRP

Meyer lemon, lime juice, finger lime, and jasmine leap out of the glass. This is followed by wet stone, subtle kumquat and lemon rind. This is all about fresh citrus lift and brightness. There’s a good lick of residual sugar on the palate bringing glow and viscosity. Honeydew melon, ripe lemon, wet stone and fresh lime juice pulled into linearity by racy, pithy acidity and phenolics.

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