Minimal intervention mastery

Riesling has a long history in Australia. It likely arrived with the First Fleet and was one of the original grape varieties planted. The first recorded plantings were in 1838 near Penrith, New South Wales. 

 

Australia is second only to Germany in terms of total plantings of Riesling. It is grown in many areas across the country, although certain regions have an international reputation for producing the best examples.

Riesling snapshot

  • Riesling is planted in most regions in Australia. 
  • Clare Valley and Eden Valley have the strongest reputation for consistently producing the highest quality and most age-worthy wines. 
  • Great Southern, Tasmania, Henty, Canberra District and Grampians also produce excellent wines.

In the vineyard

Riesling is a low to moderate vigour variety but is quite fruitful. Crop loads must be in balance to achieve optimum ripeness. The Pewsey and McWilliams clones are thought to be from the original vine material that came into Australia from Europe in the early 1800s.

Riesling buds up to a week later than Chardonnay, Semillon and
Sauvignon Blanc and is often one of the last of the white varieties to be harvested.

Regions

Adaptable but creates finest wines in cooler regions.

Styles

While the vast majority of Riesling is harvested for crisp, dry wine production, late-harvest sweet wines are also produced. Botrytis-affected wines are not as common in Australia as they are in Germany due to our generally drier climate. However from time to time the right conditions occur for this style to be made.

Qualities

Premium regional wines.

3,157ha
Total plantings (2015)
1838
First plantings

In the winery

Vinification techniques
  • High quality Riesling is about purity of fruit expression and as such, vinification techniques remain relatively straight forward
  • The tradition has been to ferment Riesling to complete dryness  
  • Cool, temperature controlled fermentations in stainless steel are common
  • Off-dry and sweeter wines are emerging
  • Winemakers are also experimenting with natural techniques such as extended skin contact and further ageing on lees as a way of building texture and weight
  • Use of new oak for maturation is not common
Maturation
  • Most Rieslings are bottled early to capture the typically vibrant fruit character
  • It is rare to find any Riesling produced in Australia that is not bottled under Stelvin (screwcap)
  • Screwcap seals are a factor in capturing the purity of Riesling’s inherent character

Major regional expressions

Clare Valley

  • Clare Valley has established itself as the premier region for Riesling in Australia
  • The slate and limestone soils combined with cool nights produce a very distinctive style
  • Light-bodied with vibrant fruit and acidity and classic lime flavours
  • Drinkable when young but have the capacity to age for decades
Read more on Clare Valley

Eden Valley

  • Eden Valley is part of the Barossa Zone but sits at higher altitudes
  • Riesling is the region’s most important white grape variety
  • Thrives in the cool, higher altitude vineyard sites
  • The style is similar to Clare Valley but with a distinct mineral edge
  • Typically light-bodied, lemon/lime character with a steely finish
Read more on Eden Valley

In the glass

Style and character

Light to medium-bodied with typically high acidity and vibrant citrus fruit.

Pairs with

Fresh oysters, goat’s cheese, salads and lighter fish dishes.

Typical flavours

Lime Zest
Preserved Lemon
Apple and Orange Blossom