By Jen Pfeiffer
I love the months of Spring – the feeling of summer brewing; the long, warm days, yet the cool nights. After drinking a lot of reds and fortified wines in the winter, I find myself starting to open a few dry white wines, and my favourite variety of all is Riesling!
Riesling originated in the Rhine Valley in Germany. It is considered one of the “noble” white grape varieties, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Riesling grapes and wines are highly aromatic, with floral, perfumed aromas and high acidity on the palate. Very rarely are Riesling wines oaked, which allow for the full expression of the fruit flavours. Highly versatile, Riesling can be made into dry, semi-sweet, sweet and even sparkling wines.
Riesling is the most widely grown variety in Germany, but it is grown in many other countries around the world. In France, the region of Alsace specialises in Riesling. Riesling is the second most grown white variety in Austria, behind their native Gruner Vetliner. There are also significant plantings of Riesling in Croatia, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, South Africa, China and the Ukraine.
Riesling is also widely planted in Australia. Its history dates back to 1838 when the first Riesling vines were planted near Penrith, NSW. Riesling was the most planted white grape variety in Australia until the early 1990s, when the Chardonnay craze began and huge plantings of Chardonnay were established.
Riesling is most commonly associated with the Clare and Eden Valleys of South Australia, but Riesling is planted in many regions all around the country. Locally, there are some small plantings of Riesling in Rutherglen, but as the variety prefers a cooler climate, it is more common to see Riesling grown in the higher reaches of the King and Alpine Valleys. The Strathbogie Ranges, Great Western and Henty are other regions in Victoria where Riesling thrives. Riesling is also being grown with increased popularity in Tasmania and the Great Southern region of Western Australia.
Australian Rieslings tend to be quite citrusy in their flavour profile, often showing lemon/lime fruit flavours with floral overtones. They have a wonderful ability to age, sometimes for decades, becoming more golden in colour and developing toasty characters over time.
At Pfeiffer Wines, we seek to produce a dry, yet flavoursome style of Riesling, with a good acid line that allows for long term maturation. We source our grapes from the Strathbogie Ranges and the King Valley, from long term growers who produce wonderful fruit. Typically, we see fruit flavours of lemons, limes and even orange blossom, with mid-palate intensity. As winemakers, our critical decision is based around the time of picking, to maximise the freshness and purity of the fruit flavours.
Once the grapes are delivered into the winery, they are handled with extreme care to protect the juice from oxidation to maintain the freshness and purity. At Pfeiffer Wines, our Riesling never sees oak, so we choose to bottle the wine shortly after the completion of vintage.