07 May 2015
RIESLING? TWO ABSOLUTE CRACKERS
O'Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling 2015
$25; 12% alcohol; screw cap; 95 points
Guava. Lychee. Rambutan. Bosc pear. Rose hip. Lime blossom. Ripe Kingston Black cider apples. It's risky to attempt an estimation of the fruits from hither and thither, from the tropics in which we holiday to the bits of central asia that frighten the living shit out of us that are somehow entrapped in this German grape grown in the ancient geology of the Polish Valley, in the semi-arid uplands west of Clare, in the North Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia. It's like taking a slo-mo stroll through millions of years in an exotic fruit market. Facets and fruits and beautiful perfumes come and go as you progress.
Then there's the dusty, schisty, acrid smells of that ancient ground, reminding you that you're drinking something from the edge of the Austral desert.
Drink. Oooh aaah. Flesh and fruit and stone. Somehow married and harmoniously swimming round your mouth. How cool is this? Very cool. Put it in there and ponder. Roll it around. See how, when it leaves, it never leaves. Those fruits meld and mellow and very gradually retreat, leaving you with a mouthful of country that just sits in there and gently attempts to teach you something that's a helluva lot older and more unlikely than you yourself.
How does this happen? Get down on your knees and ask Bacchus and Pan. Beg knowledge of the Giant Snake. Think of what time was like before humans invented god. Travel with Gondwana as this great country goes to the south pole and bounces back, inching us toward India at the pace fingernails grow, pushing the Himalaya up and wreaking perfectly natural, inevitable havoc.
I can't drink this exquisite wine without thinking of all of this. Like the wild apple and pear forests that impossibly survive in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. How does this happen? How do these flavours come to this glass?
I probably shouldn't make such a claim, but I suspect this is the greatest achievement yet of that bold rebellious alliance of Nick Walker and David O'Leary, refugees from great big wine companies. They weren't listened to or valued properly so borrowed a lot of money and set up at Watervale, Clare, fifteen years ago, partly to show their previous employers how it should be done.
This is how it should be done.
Send money to Nepal. Australia pushed those mountains up. And then buy yourself a case of this, and try to make it last until the summer. I'm betting you can't. Send more money to Nepal.
barr-Eden The Winemaker's Vineyard Eden Valley Riesling 2014
$25; 12.4% alcohol; screw cap; 94 points
Cream. If you could breed a cow that lived on limes and their flowers and milked them and made cream from their milk, it would be just like this.
While it loves and looks after the austere Rizza perves, this wine makes most Chardonnay unneccessary.
It's hard for me to avoid imagining Sound of Music stuff coming over the mountain when I drink it, on account of Big Bob McLean dying, leaving Wilma and Adam and Sarah to dance on up the hill into the sky above the bush vines they planted in them stones ... there you go. Up!
These vines are thirty years the junior of those in the O'Leary Walker, and there's lots more work to be done. They'll do it.
If you know them them like I do, you know it'll end up more Johnny Cash than Julie Andrews.
But Johnny Cash never smelt like this.
On his back label, Bob says this is 'the prettiest Riesling we have produced.' He was really proud of it.
When these baby (12 yo) bush vines get their roots (teeth) properly into that old mountain, they'll cut back on the puppy fat flesh and give you more of their barren stones.
It's a waft of mountaintop cloud that swoops over the palate as you drink, leaving your mouth swooning agape with slivers of citrus rind and lime and rose petals and then it dribbles that heavenly crême caramel that still eludes the chefs.
Tell 'em to forget it. Drink this.
No point in writing more.