I don’t think there’s a more quietly spectacular vineyard site in Porongurup than Zarephath’s. As one travels north on Chester Pass Road, most producers sit to the left on Mount Barker Porongurup Road. Turn right, though, and the road slips from bitumen to dirt, trees slowly becoming more ancient and stressed, tiger snakes winding their way over land that bears little of the stamp of human ownership. The Zarephath vineyard, then, seems placed in some sort of paradise, its small blocks carving a luscious oasis in amongst red dirt, granite and gnarled tree trunks.
None of which, of course, means the wine is any good, but it provided a lovely setting for my first encounter with this producer and perhaps played some role in my purchase of this bottle from cellar door. I remember a distinctive lime sherbet note when I tasted it, a flavour sufficiently appealing to make me want to spend a bit more time with it.
On extended tasting, first impressions are validated, as this is a delicious Riesling style. The nose is very expressive, with florals, lime rind, a hint of toast and a general impression of good times. It’s slightly louche, and I like that its flavours are so eager to please that they tend to jostle with each other a bit. So not the most refined aroma, but with great freshness and vibrancy nonetheless.
The palate is similarly robust, with that firm lime sherbet flavour the dominant note. I suspect there’s some residual sugar in here, which builds some flesh into the mid-palate and works as a positive foil to bubbly acid and phenolics. Again, not super fine, but in its way this shows impeccable balance and, more than many more intellectual Rieslings, is simply delicious drinking. The winemaking — by Rob Diletti at Castle Rock — seems top notch and the wine generous to a fault without being in any way too broad or lacking in definition.
It seems hard to make a bad Riesling in Great Southern; this is a particularly thirst-quenching one.