Dry Riesling

12 great picks from Australia and New York

 


Lemon and zest and cool, crisp minerality. That sounds like a recipe for summer wine now, doesn’t it? That may be, but so many people simply aren’t aware of where to turn to for some of the most thirst-quenching wines for summer. Take Riesling, for example. Yes many are downright sweet, and popular for that reason, but others can be dry (bone dry in some instances) to barely off-dry in others.

These drier Rieslings can be a perfect choice for summer, not only because they are so refreshing, but also because their bright acidity tends to work well with foods we commonly enjoy during the warm summer months.

What am I talking about? How about ceviche, salads, chilled seafood; all can be paired perfectly with dry Rieslings! Now before we veer off into a discussion about the difficulty in deciphering German wine labels, check this out. Great Rieslings are coming from around the globe and two of my favorite regions for them might come as a surprise to you: Australia and New York’s own Finger Lakes district! I’ll get into some other well-known Riesling regions in my next Riesling review write-up (ahem, Austria), but for today, explore some surprising Rieslings for summer.

2010 Wakefield Riesling Clare Valley Australia 12.5% $16

This smells almost briny at first with a nice hit of caper early on followed by notes of river stones, dried lemon peel and lemon grass. Really lovely aromatically with the sweetness of citrus fruit growing slowly in the glass. Round but certainly dry in the mouth this has near perfect balance with these clear flavors of stones, lemon rind and just a hint of white peach all floating above the palate. Very clear and showing nice tension right through the moderately long and consistently pure finish. This is not for everyone but this sure rings my bell. 91pts

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2010 Plantagenet Mount Barker Western Australia Riesling 12.5% $17

Soft and almost warm smelling with a touch of sulfur that adds to the dried apricot tone of the nose. Under that fruit, there are notes of dried hay and some salt, mineral notes. Broad in the mouth, though quite bright with nice depth to the fruit up front, then a really fine mineral element builds support through the mid-palate. The fruit here has nice bitter apple tones as well as a nuanced burnt orange peel and pineapple elements.  The long finish is all taut mineral and lime. This is showing very well today and in fact, seems almost a bit too precocious, but it’s delicious. 91pts

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2010 Dr. Konstantin Frank Finger Lakes Dry Riesling 12% $15

Nicely perfumed with floral top notes, a fruity mid-range with notes of apple, cherry, gooseberry, and something vaguely orange-crèmey over a base that hints at earth with a slight mushroom/raw nutmeat aspect.  This is somewhat dense but wonderfully balanced on entry with some of that raw nutmeat evident up front followed by more earthy tones and vibrant acids before the fruit begins to take over on the mid-palate. There’s a touch of grassiness here as well, but the fruit, all apples and lime, is fresh and pure and wonderfully rendered on the palate. This is elegant and shows real finesse, particularly as the wine transitions to the long, nuanced finish that has a lightly astringent edge and shows some nice incipient steely mineral tones. 90pts

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2010 Kilikanoon Clare Valley Watervale Riesling Mort’s Block Australia 12.5% $20

Rather reserved on the nose with some distinct polleny floral elements and faint hints of citrus leaf and zest, but not much showing yet. Wow, this is sharp on entry with really zesty acids that support a tight bud of mineral-framed lime fruit. There’s a little watermelon rind here with those raw acids and the fruit is a bit modest, but the wine has a bit of a closed feel to it. The finish is all lime juice, bright, fairly long and incisive. This needs time to fully reveal itself, but has fine intensity and balance. Break out some oysters. 89pts

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2009 Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Dry Riesling Barossa Australia 11% $17

Smells dry even though a bit honied with floral notes and a hint of white pepper spice that accentuates a green, raw, bitter apple charter on the nose. Nicely balanced on the palate with almost a hint of tannin and some fine bitter apple peels up front that’s supported by bright acids. The mid-palate shows a touch of roundness brought out by the touch of RS left here and the fruit takes on some floral nuances on the back end. The finish is moderately long with a nice interplay of apple blossom, orchard fruit and a touch of lemongrass. 89pts.

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2009 Sheldrake Point Finger Lakes Riesling Reserve 12.8% $25

Rather odd nose with significant, evolved character as well as mineral and dried apple notes. With air this actually turns quite spicy and pungent with a subtle red fruit element and a hint of papaya seed. Nice and focused right off the bat with good acid energy in the mouth supporting slightly exotic fruit flavors. This leans slightly to the tropical end of the spectrum with pineapple and papaya tones in a very nicely balanced style. It lacks a bit of complexity on the palate, though it does pick up a hint of spice and dried floral character on the moderately long, decidedly more citrusy and green apple-toned finish. 88pts

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Comments

  • Snooth User: Stephen Harvey
    Hand of Snooth
    220753 1,449

    Greg

    Great Line up of Aussie Rieslings - must try to get some NewYorkers over here - time to get Lot 18 to sort out its export capabilities!!

    I personally think Dry Riesling is one of the best value wines on the market.. The Aussie ones age very well and hit a really good spot at 10 years, the best like Grosset will do 20 easily.

    How do the New Yorkers Age

    Jul 19, 2011 at 10:14 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 207,877

    Grosset Polish Hill is crazy good. Did a vertical a few years back and it totally opened my eyes to the beauty of Australian Riesling. I agree with you about their being tremendous values, especially when compared with other country's dry versions. Too bad that the whole genre is sort of lumped together with Aussie wines and people can't differentiate between styles and varieties from such a big country.

    Not sure how the NY versions age since I've only had examples with a handful of years on them but based on those example they seem to age fine but are not destined for long term keeping.

    Jul 19, 2011 at 10:43 AM


  • Snooth User: Stephen Harvey
    Hand of Snooth
    220753 1,449

    Greg

    I have a vertical of 97,99,00,02,03,05,07,08,09,10 in the cellar and ready for a tasting - just need to find time and team

    PS Did you get the channel article I sent to your email address.

    Jul 19, 2011 at 11:43 AM


  • I was in the Finger Lakes twice this summer, must of visited over 50 wineries, I was surprised in many of the finds in the region. Some of the smaller wineries are out shining the long time favorites. Was a bit disappointed in some of the long time favorites, they are losing their distinctive terroir styles. Dr Frank especially. It is time for wine writers and alike to take a second look. If your a lover of more minerally Riesling similar to Alsace try South Eastern PA, Bucks County.

    Jul 19, 2011 at 4:19 PM


  • We've recently discovered a range of medium-very dry reislings from Crawford River here in Victoria Australia - all incredible since 2008 and just getting better.

    Jul 19, 2011 at 6:25 PM


  • Snooth User: Stephen Harvey
    Hand of Snooth
    220753 1,449

    Michelle
    Crawford River are producing some really great rieslings, you should also try the Drumborg Riesling from Seppelt, it is quite stunning

    Jul 19, 2011 at 10:10 PM


  • Snooth User: winejaunt
    861874 117

    If you like the Finger Lakes Rieslings potential - check out the Rieslings they make from Finger Lakes fruit at the Brooklyn Winery. Also, I've found some great finds exploring around both Alsace and Austria, if you want to continue exploring non-German Riesling.

    Jul 19, 2011 at 11:28 PM


  • Snooth User: gerrad
    79282 57

    apart from the obvious clare/eden valleys and coonawarra or canberra (especially)..also try tasmania (josef chromy), great southern/mt barker/porongorups (howard park, gilberts, trevelen farm, castle rock (!!)), and further round to denmark/albany (oranje tractor) and up to margaret river (abbey farm, leeuwin est., evans & tate/mcwilliams) all good, mostly dry, good acidity, mineral, citrus/lime- and under A$30 almost without exception! {thats cheap people} Get drinking it.

    Jul 20, 2011 at 3:37 AM


  • Snooth User: Capn Jax
    885212 13

    Great selections here. I've had that Dr Frank many times and love it. Thanks.

    Jul 20, 2011 at 8:54 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 207,877

    Always looking for additional Australian Rieslings to try so thank for the reccos. Only problem is that these can be hard to track down here in the states, but I'll do my best. And yes, these are inexpensive folks, particularly for the value.

    As far as the Finger lakes goes, I think a late fall trip might be in order!

    Jul 21, 2011 at 11:21 AM


  • Snooth User: gerrad
    79282 57

    im working on trying to do something about u.s. availability of aussie rieslings etc. actually, as my brother has just moved from perth to philly and he wants to bring out some aussie wines for some (more) rich guy who wants a cellar stocked. i hope there may be a way to think bigger than that- ill be in touch with offers if something more permenant emerges. its just some of your laws get in the way in some states as you'll well know.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 2:00 PM


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