Australian Riesling is infinitely superior to New Zealand's, according to a Decanter panel of eight New World Riesling experts.
Earlier this year the panel tasted 79 Australian and 55 New Zealand Rieslings from a variety of vintages, the majority from 2010 and 2009 with a handful of vintages going back to 2005 and earlier.
The wines came from all Riesling-producing regions of the two countries. The vast majority of Australian wines were from the Adelaide Hills, and Clare and Eden Valleys, while most New Zealand Rieslings were from Marlborough, with a few from Central Otago, Nelson and other regions.
The results were overwhelmingly in Australia’s favour. All of the eight five-star wines were Australian, and 29 of the 37 four-star wines.
During the panel discussion the critics – including the Wine Society’s Australian buyer Pierre Mansour, Luke Robertson, head sommelier of the London’s Michelin-strarred The Ledbury, and consultant David Wainwright – were unanimous: Australian Riesling is ‘compelling’ and ‘absolutely outstanding’.
The panel urged readers to lay the best wines down. ‘They will compare with the great wines of Alsace at a fraction of the price,’ one panellist said.
Skillogalee was ‘Delicious, complex and multi-dimensional,’ the panel said.
Meanwhile, across the Tasman Sea, ‘the general lament was that the New Zealand Rieslings were too inconsistent’ Amy Wislocki writes in her introduction to the tasting in the September issue of Decanter.
The wines were ‘disjointed’ and often too sweet. Mansour said they had a ‘confected’ quality.
However, both Wainwright and critic Sarah Ahmed defended New Zealand, the former pointing out that its Riesling producers were still getting established and suggesting it would be interesting to do the same tasting in 20 years.
Ahmed urged readers to try the 2008 vintage before dismissing New Zealand Riesling. ‘There were some exceptional wines here,’ she said.
Read the full panel tasting results in the September issue of Decanter magazine, out 3 August.
Written by Adam Lechmere