2010 Steingarten Riesling by Jacob’s Creek

June 12, 2012

2010 Steingarten Riesling by Jacob’s Creek

The other day I picked up two bottles of Australian wine at Beijing International Airport. I was in transit and browsed through the duty free shops when I saw them. First I thought them a bit pricy, but then I decided to take two, one white, one red.

The white wine was a ‘2010 Steingarten Riesling’ by Jacob’s Creek. Some wine critics call this wine a ‘benchmark of Australian Riesling’.

Usually, I avoid buying Jacob’s Creek because my wife hates the brand. For her it stands for cheap mass-produced wine. During our time in Beijing in the early nineties there was only cheap Jacob’s Creek available in some selcted shops. Ever since she does not like the producer.

However, I had heard about “Steingarten”, maybe one of the best Riesling terroirs in Australia. And because I am still searching for my favourite Australian Riesling, I thought to give it a try. The original Steingarten vineyard is located at Trial Hill in the Eden Valley, South Australia.

“Steingarten” is German and means “garden full of stones”, but in the case of Jacob’s Creek its a brand name. The wine is “cool climate” and the grapes come from selected locations at higher altitudes of the Barossa Valley.

The bottle had even an individual number (I bought bottle number 22947); and it was low in alcohol (12.5 %). I paid about 25 EURO for it which is not cheap. In my native Mosel valley there is plenty of first class Riesling around for such a price.

The wine was not bad. It had the normal Riesling aromas (lime, citrus and green apple in this case), a solid structure, fine acidity and a good finish. However, I must be spoiled by the German kind of this wine so that also this one did not trigger my enthusiasm.

Needless to say, the search for an Australian Riesling which satisfies me is going on.

The bigger disappointment was to come: the food.

Of course we had the wine with food. Shakespearean cuisine was the go, which is a rather sweet affair with lots fo figs and raisin. Every individual dish tasted interesting. But we made a basic mistake: the various dishes did not harmonize at all with each other. I will just show some pictures and spare you the details of the dishes.

Here is what we had:

The fish

The raisins

Raisin-onion dish

Other veggies

…and the fish with jam

Top Australian Riesling wines

December 21, 2010

Riesling grape

I admit that as a German Riesling aficionado I have my problems with Australian Riesling wines. I try them again and again but, and to my great chagrin, I have not found what I am looking for.

Australian Riesling wines from the Adelaide Hills, the Clare Valley, the Eden Valley, Tasmania, Canberra District and from Great Southern in Western Australia enjoy a good reputation.

Also our own wine region, the Upper Goulburn Wine Region, produces some beautiful Riesling wines.

The September/October issue of the Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal summarised the tasting of 26 Australian Riesling wines. All of them were under crew caps! Impossible in my native Germany.

Only one of them came from Victoria (Paradigm Hill 2009 Riesling from the Mornington Peninsula). The price range was from A$ 22 to A$ 45 (16.75 to 34.2 EURO). The four top rates wines were:

– 2010 Jacob’s Creek “Steingarten” Riesling (it is German for “stone garden”), a tank sample, Barossa Valley, South Australia

– 2009 “The Florita” Riesling by Jim Barry Wines, Clare Valley, South Australia

– 2009 Premium Riesling by Helm Wines, Canberra District, New South Wales

– 2009 Riesling by Plantagenet Wines, Mount Barker, Western Australia

The magazine carried also a photo of the vineyard where the Jacob’s Creek “Steingarten” Riesling is produced. It reminded me of my home region along the Mosel and Saar river. Here every vine has a single “stick” and is “wrapped” around it with no wire between the posts, nothing.

The “Steingarten” vineyard is entirely worked by hand because of it’s steepness. Also this reminds me of the Mosel with its ultra-steep slopes. The stones are of red colour, though, whereas the Mosel has blue and grey slate.

And believe me these Australian wine producers are not modest. At the recent International Riesling Challenge in Canberra they gave the top wine the title: Best Riesling in the World. Can you imagine. Modesty used to be a virtue which must have jumped out of the window down under.

The trophy was given to a ‘2005 Pauletts Aged Release Polish Hill Riesling’ from Polish Hill in the Clare valley, South Australia by Paulett Wines.

I cannot even try this wine because it is sold out. My search continues. I keep you posted.

Riesling from the Upper Goulburn

January 23, 2009


‘2005 Don’t Tell Dad Riesling’, Murrindindi Vineyards, Upper Goulburn Wine Region

Being a Man from the Mosel I love Mosel Riesling wines and find it hard at times to appreciate other styles of Rieslings. Australia produces out standing Riesling wines. Most of them are of the Alsatian style, they are thick bodied and coat the palate. Moreover, petrol is the dominant nose when you sniff it. Although finding petroleum notes is a common occurrence in aged Riesling wines, it is usually not to be found in young wines coming from the Mosel. And this might be why, though appreciative of those Rieslings from Alsace and Australia, I usually prefer a Mosel Riesling. Here I like the young freshness, the balance between acidity and minerality, the zest, and the exuberance.

But in my meandering search for new experiences, I always give Australian Rieslings a go, often reluctant I admit. The best Australian Rieslings come from Eden Valley and Clare Valley in South Australia.

In his 2009 edition of ‘The Australian Wine’, Jeremy Oliver, a famous Australian wine writer, ranks a Riesling from Victoria, the ‘2007 Seppelt Drumborg’ from Henty (98 points) as the best for the year. Henty, a little known wine region outside Australia, is located in South Western Victoria near the border to South Australia, between Hamilton and Portland. Henty has about 25 vineyards including 12 wineries. The nine Rieslings which follow in the rankings of Jeremy Oliver all come from Eden (4) and Clare (5).

The more I was pleased when James Halliday recently ranked a Riesling from our own wine region, the Upper Goulburn Wine Region, quite highly and gave 87 points to the ‘2006 Barwite Upper Goulburn Riesling’.

While browsing the shelves of the supermarket in Yea , I bought the above bottle of the ‘2005 Don’t Tell Dad Riesling’ from Murrindindi Vineyards, also a member of our wine growers association. Wines from Murrindindi Vineyards have won accolades of praise by wine critics and judges. To cite James Halliday again, he awarded the ‘2006 Murrindindi Don’t Tell Dad Shiraz’ 89 points, the ‘2006 Murrindindi Chardonnay’ 88 and the ‘2005 Murrindindi Family Reserve Cabernet’ 88. The 2005 Riesling even got 89 points.

I brought the above bottle to a dinner with my friends Hillary (from the end of our street), Beth and Richard and was amazed. The petroleum note was not as dominant as with some Rieslings, the wine has elegance and length which I liked. The ‘2005 Don’t Tell Dad Riesling’ retails for about 15 A$ and is a bargain. Check it out. I will drink it again when back in Glenburn.

PS: The Top 10 Australian Riesling wines according to Jeremy Oliver 2009:

1. 2007 Seppelt Drumborg, Henty, 98
2. 2007 Mountadam, Eden Valley, 96
3. 2003 Peter Lehman Reserve, Eden Valley, 96
4. 2005 Leasingham Classic Clare, Clare Valley, 96
5. 2002 Pewsey Vale Vineyard, Eden Valley, 96
6. 2007 Grosset Polish Hill, Clare Valley, 96
7. Kilikanoon Mort’s Reserve, Clare Valley, 95
8. 2005 Taylors St. Andrews, Clare Valley, 95
9. 2007 Grosset Springvale, Clare Valley, 95
10. 2008 Leo Buring Leonay DW L17, High Eden, 95