Abroad, its austerity is often misunderstood in contrast to the fuller styles of Germany, Alsace and Austria. And yet this noble grape is embraced by sommeliers and wine fanatics, celebrated in its youth and prized in its grand maturity.
And it’s arguably been the best-value variety from Australia for decades.
Even so, it pays to be selective about which Rieslings to buy and from where. Australia, as a whole, is a warm to hot place for growing grapes, and great Riesling naturally calls for a cool climate. To get cool in Australia, you need latitude (Tasmania) or altitude (Clare Valley and Eden Valley in South Australia).
The large Great Southern region of Western Australia may seem an unlikely inclusion, with a latitude and altitude not dissimilar to the warm Barossa Valley, though here the key lies in cool sea breezes from the Southern Ocean. Don’t forget the vast scale of this continent: Great Southern is as far from the Barossa as Bordeaux is from Romania.
Our tasters praised the quality and stylistic diversity on show, especially in the 2014s. Clare and Eden Valley are still Australia’s key regions for dry Riesling, but look out for Great Southern too.
Top-scoring Australian dry Riesling from the panel tasting: