Saturday, March 26, 2011

Abbey Rock Coonawarra "Old Schoolhouse" Riesling

Riesling is one of those varietals that I find people love or hate, which is really odd when one considers the vast diversity of rieslings in the world.

   Riesling can be sweet or dry - it can age well under great circumstances and can easily be enjoyed quite young. Riesling pairs well with traditional German, Swiss and Alsatian foods like schnitzel, seared pork with saurkraut and sour cream, even a raclette of cheese. Riesling is also a dream with a great grilled cheese sandwich. Riesling, in other words, is capable of greatness.

   But nothing in what I've said would make one put the thought Riesling with the thought Australia, but it's a more natural fit then one might think. Many Germans emigrated to Australia in the last 1800's and gravitated to the (by comparison) cooler parts of the country. Granted, snow may be a dream for most Australians, but in South Australia, about 300 km south-east of Adelaide is the wine-growing region known as Coonawarra (which means honeysuckle in aboriginal).

photo courtesy of South Australia
   Coonawarra has only recently become famous for it's wine production. Before the 1950's it was unknown even to Australians, but it was Samuel Wynn who discovered the famous terra rosa soil, which has spawned a whole generation of Australian winemakers who gave up their roots in fortified wines and moved into table wines.

   Jump to 2001 and winemaker Les Sampson, viticulturalist Ted Apted and wine marketer Michael Parkinson.  This group of fine fellows decided to do something brave and make wine. I say brave because I truly believe that anyone who strikes off on their own and blazes their own trail is brave... what was it Robert Frost said: "and I took the path less trodden by". Amen.

photo courtesy South Australia

   Since 2001 the team have garnered awards around the world, taking wine from several sub regions in South Australia that suit the varietals they are making. Coonawarra has become famous for it's Shiraz, but Riesling has been planted here for decades, and this  Riesling is so classical as to be textbook.

Abbey Rock 2004 "Old Schoolhouse" Riesling
Coonawarra, South Australia
12.8% ABV, $12 CAD   **Very Good Value **
  • visual:   clean; pale straw core with watery rim
  • nose:   clean; fully intense and developed aromas of German style aged riesling; petrol, plastic, stark and crisp minerality, soft undertones of dried apples and old hay
  • palate:   clean; dry, moderate+ (crabapple) acids, moderate- alcohol, moderate- to light bodied, moderately intense and developed flavors that mimik the nose well; soft chalkiness to the minerality on the palate and a long finish of dried apple and limestone. Very good balance and structure, solid moderate length on the palate
  • conclusion:   Completely overdelivers for the price. If I had a class on riesling, I would definitely serve this wine. Drink before the end of 2012 for best results.
  • PAIRINGS:   German style wine wants German style food - if you can bread it and fry it then it probably goes great with this wine! German cheese also a natural pairing.
   The lesson in today's wine? Don't be prejudiced by a $12 pricetag - something great might be inside! The folks at Abbey Rock Winery only made 1000 cases of this wine, and that was quite a few years back... if you're lucky enough to see a bottle in your local store, then do yourself a favor and try something new.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome.

CINCIN~!!!      SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

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