Australia continent of outstanding Riesling

The TKR riesling tasting

Post-Christmas is time for the TKR riesling tasting. It’s not as large as some magazine tastings, or those of reviewers who have greater consumer recognition, but large enough to provide an idea of how riesling is performing around the country.

For the past few years I have kept all rieslings sent during their year of production until early the following year.

Australia makes many beautiful rieslings in all parts of the country, and they should have higher global respect. For this to happen I feel producers need to stop using them as cash-generating wines, but hold them longer, spend more on promoting them and be united in their global marketing.

Twenty or thirty years ago the Clare Valley came to the fore as the place to find top quality Australian riesling. Then the Eden Valley also became recognised as a region capable of producing top-notch rieslings. Since then great rieslings have appeared in many regions across the country.

The points across the board are high: an average of 92.6. But the notes need to be read closely, as many of the wines are not yet anywhere near their peak. As a reviewer, or a person who is in judgement of these or any wines, I can only give what I consider to be appropriate points for the wine that sits in the glass before me. I can pass comment on what I think the wine will become, but not give points on what will eventuate.

Leaving out the one Adelaide Hills and two Victorian wines, the averages for the remaining sectors were:

  • NSW: 93.4
  • Clare Valley: 93
  • WA: 91.3
  • Eden Valley: 91.7

Riesling from NSW pointing higher than Clare or Eden Valley wines? A NSW regional body could make a lot of that. Let’s not, as there would need to be many more wines to reach a conclusion that carried genuine weight.

Again, I reinforce the fact that points by themselves mean little unless the words that accompany them are taken into account.


All wines tasted February 2017

Clare Valley

Pertaringa Clare Valley Riesling 2016: Beautiful lime nose, the wine just starting to come into profile, I should think by July it will be good drinking and remain so for a few more years 94 points $30 is towards the upper end of the standard riesling price range but still worth it

Claymore ‘God is a DJ’ Clare Valley Riesling 2016: Light gold with faint hints of green, It’s a riesling nose but I found no stand-out descriptors, still young yet interesting characters are starting to bud but as with the nose hard to pin down a very mean 92 now but I think three more points waiting in the wings as it matures, fair price at $25

The next three wines are from the Clare Valley but also make a point of their sub-region

Pauletts Polish Hill River Riesling 2016: Light gold in colour, hints of lime on the nose and some spritz on the front palate. Another wine that is starting to come together but very slowly, this is made for the long haul, it will do ten years maybe double that if kept in the right conditions so a mean 93 on tasting but several more points to come a bargain (long term) at $23

Claymore ‘Joshua Tree’ Watervale Riesling 2016: : Tight on the nose and tight across the palate, it’s still a youth and on the light side, perhaps being mean its 91 now but I’m sure a couple more points will emerge as it develops, within the standard riesling price sector at $20

Vickery ‘WVR 252 CK’ Watervale Riesling 2016: Pale golden colour shot through with streaks of green, it changes colour as the glass is twisted to different angles, the nose for me is defined riesling and gorgeous. Across the palate its still showing youthful awkwardness but the beauty of the wine is apparent, drinks OK now but will drink better later in 2017 and better still in years to come 95 points give away price at $23

Eden Valley

Vickery ‘EVR 153 ZMR’ Eden Valley Riesling 2016:  More green than gold, the nose needs working at but if persistent it appears as a mix of citrus led by lime, on the palate its stealth, it starts shy and slowly increases intensity as it travels, again it’s a young wine and will be better later in the year, Christmas will be about right also a long life ahead 94 points perhaps a couple more to come, don’t buy a bottle at $23 buy a case

Gee Whiz Tram Driver Eden Valley Riesling 2016: As the name implies it’s an easy drinking wine that is certainly riesling with no fuss and frills, extremely enjoyable 92 points and value at $18

St John’s Road ‘East of Eden’ Eden Valley Riesling 2016: Attractive lime nose, drinking really well now. Spritz at the beginning of the palate then racy riesling character starts mid-way and takes it to the end, at this stage the finish is underdeveloped but that will come as 2017 rolls on, so 93 now with one maybe two more down the track, good buy at $22

Hex & Heysen Eden Valley Riesling 2016: Light on the nose and light across the palate, 89 points and expensive at $27

Pewsey Vale ‘Prima’ Eden Valley Riesling 2016: Light yellow with green highlights, light on the nose but lime is starting to come to the fore, the off dry character is very attractive as it so often is in riesling providing the acid is in balance, drinking well now but as with all the wines in this tasting it will improve 94 and good value at $26

Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Eden Valley Riesling 2016: Light on the nose and dull across the palate 89 points and plenty of competition at $20

Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2016: How many vintages of this have I tasted? I’m not sure but for me it goes back to the early/mid 80s. The consistent standard is to be admired and I know they can live for years. I have to admit this wine was not showing as well as other vintages I have tasted so I can only go to 91 and unless it is just in a dumb stage there is a lot of competition at $25

Adelaide Hills

Mr Riggs ‘Ein Riese’ Adelaide Hills Riesling 2016: An off-dry wine light gold in the glass, young but already drinking beautifully. Well balanced on the journey with the sweetness just right, 94 points and value at $25

Western Australia

Howard Park Mount Barker Riesling 2016: Light on the nose but riesling lime character starting to peak through, there is a richer textual feel to this wine than others in the tasting and as yet flavours are muted, what will come we will have to see but Howard Park rieslings do have long life’s so a mean 91 now and more points down the line, it’s at the top end of the price scale at $33

A.C. Byrne Mount Barker Riesling 2016: This is a Aldi wine and may well be gone by the time this review is published, perhaps I should have included it in the Aldi tasting back in November but I think it fair to place it amongst its riesling colleagues. Pale in colour light riesling nose and clean riesling flavours it’s a 91 point wine and for $10 outstanding value.

Plantagenet ‘Three Lions’ Great Southern Riesling 2016: Not a great deal of colour showing at the moment, a strong nose but not lime/kerosene more hot dry earth, powerful across the palate but lacking riesling definition. What this wine has to offer is still hidden its hard to judge other than say its clean and well-made so 90 now and let’s see what comes $23 is around the right price

Howard Park Porongurup Riesling 2016: Green tinge, wonderful nose of lime and a pure delight across the palate, the drawback is youth but this is one very fine wine 93 now more to come, top of the riesling price range at $34


Lock & Key Hilltops Riesling 2016: lively, zippy from nose across the palate to final swallow, a mean 92 now but I’m sure this will develop during 2017 right price at $25

Carillion Orange Region Riesling 2016: Beautifully crafted wine, a hint of green colour a indication of lime on the nose and it hits all the right points as it travels, this will develop during 2017 and be stunning in 2018, 94 now more to come good price at $25

Robert Stein ‘Reserve’ Mudgee Riesling 2016: Class is class and one sniff says this wine has plenty of class, the nose is light lime but there is also more there that is hard to define. In the mouth the flavours swell and twist like fog on a winter’s night, the whole is as yet not at its peak but attempting to single out the components was beyond me, every time I thought I had a grip on one, it wafted off to be replaced with another, to buy this wine for drinking in 2017 will be a waste, to buy and cellar for many years say five to 20 years it is well worth $50, 94 points now but several more to come

Robert Stein Mudgee Riesling 2016: Starting to come into its own I should think that by Christmas this will be one gorgeous wine 93 now but I’m sure it will hit 95 by year’s end, top price at $30 but worth it.

Robert Stein ‘Half Dry’ Mudgee Riesling 2016: A touch of ripeness works well with riesling making it more approachable younger, this is still disjointed but drinking well non-the-less. It will continue to develop and then be worth the $40 asked, meanwhile 94 points with one or more to come.


Delatite ‘Vivienne’s Block Reserve’ Riesling 2016: On the cusp, the trappings of youth still apparent but the flowering of a beautiful wine emerging, the acid is settling and fruit coming to the fore it will balance out beautifully during 2017, 95 points top price but worth it $39

Gapsted ‘Valley Selection’ King Valley Riesling 2016: Clean but uninspiring nose and clean across the palate but lacking any wow factor 90 points OK price $18

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