Yesterday I travelled through the Henty region and called on two producers, Crawford River Wines and Hochkirch. Henty is a mystery to me. Vast, remote, few wineries and even fewer cellar doors, it isn’t a region that invites visitors. Rather, it almost dares one to try and locate its styles, to make sense of the boundaries that define it. I’m not sure I know Henty any better after visiting, but amongst endless farmland, from vineyards that appear like a shock, I found some remarkable wines.
Crawford River Wines is arguably the region’s most famous producer (discounting Seppelt’s presence in the form of the Drumborg Vineyard). Although it produces some lovely red wines, this is a winery defined by its whites, and in particular its Riesling. The vines used for this label aren’t terribly young now (over ten years of age, if I recall) but it is still produced as a separate bottling. I was fortunate to be helped at cellar door by Belinda Thomson, who is surely one of the more self-possessed and enthusiastic young vignerons I’ve met.
A wine of contrasts, this suggests delicacy and finesse before presenting a fullness of fruit that comes as a surprise. The nose is pretty, edging towards flowers rather than juice, soft rather than etched. It’s expressive and generous, but always careful, never even hinting at vulgarity.
The palate carries through with soft, pastel fruit on entry, filling the mouth without heaviness, and moving through a shapely palate structure. Although I can sometimes enjoy a wine with a boisterous structure, this wine is underpinned by ultra-fine acid, firm yet texturally detailed and chalky through the finish. It retains the prettiness of form seen on the nose without sacrificing length, expressiveness or flavour.
There are plenty of great Rieslings in Australia, yet I can’t help but admire one more that, like its region and maker perhaps, is determinedly its own creation.
Crawford River Wines
Source: Cellar door