Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Deliciously Dry Riesling

Dry Riesling from the Clare Valley in South Australia, Australia (not a typo) is some of the most delicious and underrated wine out there. I forget how much I love dry Riesling in the summer time. I mean, I love sweet Riesling too, but dry Riesling from the Clare Valley in Australia is just so amazing. Lately I have been drinking quite a few. I like them because their acidity makes them teeter on a Sauvignon Blanc when done dry and their weight can hold up to a lot of fresh summer foods. Plus they are usually inexpensive and flavorful.

Yesterday I went to the store to pick up a bottle of Clare Valley dry Riesling for a video shoot we were doing that afternoon. The first place I went was kind of a crap shoot. I knew they didn't have the best selection but I thought "hey, it's Leasingham Bin 7, it's a big producer, they might have it." Plus it was really close to my house so I didn't have to travel far. Much to my disappointed they didn't have it. I was a little surprised, like I said, Leasingham is owned by a large wine group, Fosters - Australian for beer, they are then owned by the larger Constellation Brand wine group, a powerhouse here in the US. So while I was kind of expecting not to find it, I was a little surprised when they didn't have ANY dry Riesling's from the Clare Valley.

Well, I couldn't waist time because I had a meeting scheduled at 10am so I jumped across town to ole' faithful looking to pick up a bottle there. This retailer is the middle bear, not too big, not too small, just right. They have some cool obscure stuff but also the standards. I walked in knowing exactly where to go and was floored when I couldn't find Leasingham Bin 7 Riesling, then I took a step back and realized, they didn't have A dry Riesling. "Not one?" I asked the clerk. She informed me that they don't get a call for it, she said people only want sweet with Riesling. Ba-humbug I thought, nobody asks for dry Riesling? What is this world coming to?

So back in the car I got and literally across town I hustled to see if 'The Monster' had it. 'The Monster' has one of the largest wine selections in the Upper Midwest with some 18,000 SKU's. They have a good selection but are pretty well known for their higher price point. I quickly ran in and grabbed a bottle and as I was running out of the aisle I thought "do they just have one?" I ran back and took a hard look, they had ONE dry Riesling on their shelf, the Leasingham. What is this world coming to that our big stores are only carrying ONE dry Riesling from the Clare Valley. It was at that point I knew what my Tuesday morning blog was going to be about, dry Riesling.

As I mentioned before I love dry Riesling. I think it pairs well with white meats, seafood, summer salads and salty cheeses. It's also a great quaffer or daily drink on the deck. I like the Leasingham because it's accessible (at least I thought). While it is owned by a larger conglomerate that doesn't bother me too much. I do my best to support family owned artisan wine producers but sometimes I have to go with what's available. Leasingham's Bin 7 is pretty stereotypical of dry Riesling from the Clare Valley. It's clean, fresh, nice citrus aromas with a generous splash of Kerosene and a nice dry medium to light body with great acidity. But there are more than just Leasingham.

I also like Reilly's Barking Mad dry Riesling from Watervale. About $15 a bottle it's the same price as Leasingham. You get the same citrus aromas and flavors with the addition of pear. The palate is that great medium weight with a wonderful acidity. It's a great pairing for seafood. Beyond Reilly and Leasingham I like the Knappstein dry Riesling from the Clare Valley. Not very much is imported, usually under 2000 cases, but it's delicious. Full of wonderful lime and green apple flavors this beauty has a lovely diesel smell that rounds out the nose. The palate is that wonderfully dry yet deliciously fruity green apple flavor with nice acidity. It usually retails for about the same $15 and is a real treat.

The last one I will talk about is the Pike's Clare Valley dry Riesling. A real sleeper, this low production winery is a gem when you get your hands on it. Retailing for about $20 the winery only producers 2000 cases a year, not much at all. Full of pair and star fruits with plenty of lime an citrus to follow, this beautiful dry Riesling is well put together. If you find one grab a bottle, grill up some shrimp and put a little spice on them, then make a fresh summer salad and some green veggies as a side (Asparagus). Then just open the bottle and pour a glass, oh my word you will find it's an amazingly versatile summer food wine.

The Clare Valley is South Australia was the first region in Australia to mandate that all of the bottles coming out of the region were closed with a screw top or Stelvin closure as it's sometimes called. This could be a contributing factor in the reason it has yet to really take off in our market. There is a definite stigma about screw top wines, one that should be eliminated. Screw tops are the wave of the future and are a great resource for wine producers. While I am not going to get in to it fully I have plenty of work available both at www.cruwineonline.com and on this blog for you to read about screw tops and their place in the market.

In addition to the screw tops the name Riesling on the bottle might be a bit of a deterrent for consumers. In todays "No Sweet, Big & Bold" marketplace there is not much room for the lighter Riesling grape. Sure plenty of people drink sweet, but once they 'graduate' from sweet it takes them years to come back around and see the value of residual sugar. So with the stigma of screw tops, sweet wines and lack of educational information out there dry Riesling from the Clare Valley in Australia the wine unfortunately lacks shelf space. Hopefully this blog gave you insight in to the wonderful world of dry Riesling. There are plenty of other examples that I missed, but the point is that if you find a bottle pick it up and try it, I think you will like what you find.

Until next time thank you for reading. Please check out our website at www.cruwineonline.com for more fun wine tidbits. We are launching the full subscription page in less than a week!

Nicholas Barth
Certified Sommelier
Wine Director
Cru Wine Online

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