If Riesling is daggy enough, then aged Riesling would surely give our fortified Muscats and Tokays a run as most unfashionable wine style. How unfair (on all fronts). For starters, like the fortifieds, many of Australia’s Riesling styles are quite singular, and on this basis alone worthy of attention. Then there’s the question of kerosene aromas in aged Riesling. I admit to some partiality to these aromas, and personally don’t regard them as a fault if in balance. But this is far from settled. What should aged Riesling taste like? Perhaps some readers might weigh in with opinions here.
To the undoubted relief of some, petrol doesn’t enter into the picture at all with this wine. The integrity of screwcap closures, though, does. This would have to be one of the oldest Stelvin-sealed wines in my cellar, so it was particularly interesting to see a lot of crustiness, attributable I assume to leakage, on and around the screw cap after I had opened this bottle. Mind you, I had to use a pair of multigrips to actually get the cap off, as it was essentially glued to the bottle (we winos are a resourceful lot when it comes to opening wine). I feared the worst.
The colour shows development, but not overly so, with some golden-hay hues that are pretty but not especially dense or rich at this stage. So far, so good. Some definite aged characters on the nose: honey, toast, nuttiness, all those good things. As mentioned above, no kerosene on this one. There’s also little primary fruit, which is interesting because the aged characters, though evident, don’t seem to me to be in full flower. Entry is very lively and recalls a freshly bottled wine rather than one at eight years of age. Very lively, almost spritzy acidity dominates the mouthfeel and creates an odd counterpoint to the aged notes that begin to register on the tongue. As with the nose, there are notes of honey and toast and little primary fruit. Acid becomes more assertive towards the mid-palate and, for me, is quite intrusive given this wine’s stage of flavour development. On the after palate, the honey starts to fade and, as there’s precious little primary fruit, one is left with an impression of toast and sourness and not much else. To the acid’s credit, though, it does push the wine to an excellent, lengthy finish.
The first thing I will note is that I tried a bottle of this about a year ago and was blown away by how good it was. That bottle (looking back on my notes) showed more development and brilliant balance between primary and aged characters. It appears there was also quite a lot more fruit still in evidence. It had me singing the praises of our wonderful, cost effective Rieslings. So I’m led to suspect this bottle isn’t representative, although the fact that its structure is still so youthful is odd. Perhaps the fading primary fruit accentuates this impression. Having said all that, it’s not a bad wine, and if I had tasted this as my first bottle from the cellar, I would simply have said it needs more time for the structure to calm and aged notes to develop further. Perhaps, indeed, that’s all it wants.
Date tasted: June 2008