Clonakilla Riesling 2002

Canberra churns out its share of good Rieslings, and is home to the International Riesling Challenge, amongst other vinous highlights. Ken Helm of Helm Wines has been a key advocate for this variety in the district, and I will be tasting his Premium Riesling soon. For now, though, another regional benchmark — the Clonakilla Riesling. On release, this was right up there (to my taste) with celebrated Clare and Eden wines from this vintage, so I’m interested to find out how it’s tracking.People talk about letting red wines breathe, but white wines can be equally lumpy on opening, and often benefit from a bit of swirling and loving care. Case in point: this wine was a bit all over the place at first. Spritzy, acidic, some aged characters but overwhelmingly dry and austere. Not a great mix of elements. An hour later, things are settling in well. An interesting nose of nuts and baked goods mixed with a distinctive, savoury fruit note. I’m not sure it’s quite coherent, but it’s certainly characterful and perhaps even slightly provocative. Even after settling a bit, entry is still pretty lively, with full-on acid that collides with dry lemon fruit flavour. There are also some aged characters, but they are not straightforward honey/toast. Rather, they are more savoury and perhaps buttery, very much in alignment with the nose and more than a bit of fun. The whole, though, feels underdeveloped to me, and the wine’s still-prominent primary character is very much dominant. That’s not bad, it’s merely indicative of a certain stage of development, and does not mask the intrinsic qualities present, such as complexity and elegance. You realise on the mid palate that flavour intensity is impressively high, and the acid has shown itself well architected, if a little coarse. The after palate becomes quite savoury, and suggests to me this wine would be a brilliant aperitif, perhaps served with strongly flavoured canapes. Decent, fresh finish.I’m not at all disappointed with this tasting, and believe this wine has its best days still ahead. It’s developing really interesting aged characters that are out of step with the Clare/Eden norm and are all the better for it. ClonakillaPrice: $A25Closure: CorkDate tasted: June 2008

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