Riesling lovers of Australia rejoice! Our 2022 rieslings are superb – the best we have produced so far. Now we always aim high on quality, managing the vineyard meticulously and hand-picking the fruit, so what was so special about 2022?
In short, it was the combination of the unique, cool site of our vineyard, the latest harvest we have experienced and some adventurous winemaking. Let’s pull that apart a bit.
Below is a copy of a slide I showed during my presentation at the Riesling Royale Masterclass in Canberra last year. It shows the elevations at which riesling is grown in the Orange region and how this affects temperature (GDD). Not surprisingly at 1000 metres elevation it’s much cooler than it is at 600 metres. Then it shows how Australian regions known for riesling compare on this temperature scale. Notice that Colmar Estate is at the cool end of the spectrum and how this lines up quite closely with some of Europe’s famous riesling regions.
So, as far as we are concerned, we are in exactly the right spot to make wonderful riesling, though the style may be closer to that of Europe than to that in warmer Australian regions.
So what happens when you have a really cool season in a really cool region? That was 2022. Whereas we normally pick our riesling fruit in March, in 2022 we didn’t start to pick it until 19 April and we finished on 3 May! But in the end we harvested some of the most beautiful riesling fruit we have ever seen – clean as a whistle, beautifully ripe and with scintillating acidity.
With gorgeous fruit to work with we challenged winemaker Will Rikard-Bell to craft three wines in different styles. The Block 5 Riesling was made fairly simply with the aim of expressing the purity of the fruit from this exceptional year. It’s a gorgeous wine.
Will pulled out all the stops when making the Reserve Riesling, unashamedly embracing European winemaking methods – some extended skin contact, some pressings, some ageing in old French puncheons. The result is an exciting, complex, textural style, though the wine needs a little time to come together.
Our 2022 Estate Riesling was made in a medium-dry style. It was the last one we blended but hard- to-please wine writer Huon Hooke just scored it 95 points. All three wines are out of the top drawer.
These wines will challenge your preconceptions about Australian rieslings. All three have intense fruit and considerable fruit weight, the rounded mouthfeel a real contrast to some of the lean, linear, austere rieslings from other regions. A new day dawns.