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Copyright © Ric Einstein 2009
Thoughts from the 2004 National Riesling Challenge
© Gilbert Labour
The recently held National Riesling Challenge brought to light some interesting facts.
In the Current Release Class, there were, as expected, only a handful of wines under cork out of 116 entries in that class.
One of those however, was the 2003 Jacob’s Creek which scored a Bronze whilst his older sibling, the 2002 Jacob’s Creek, which was under screw cap, went on to take out the Champion of Show Trophy. Intriguing marketing to say the least! Why not stick to screw caps? I have posed that question to the National Marketing Manager of Orlando Wyndham and am still awaiting an answer.
The usual heavy weights such as St Helga, Richmond Grove, Wolf Blass, Pewsey Vale, Leo Buring DWG 17, Leo Buring Leonay, Peter Lehmann, Yalumba, McWilliams, and Jacob’s Creek all heavily featured in the list of Gold Medal and Trophy winners.
However, a handful of contenders [pretenders ?] reared their heads amongst the gold medals and are certainly well worth seeking out and watching, especially the Mount Langi Ghiran 2003 & Nepenthe 2003.
Of the wines that perhaps slipped under the judges’ radar but which impressed us (the Associate Judges) were the Stephano Lubiana, Plantagenet, Sandalford, Vasse Felix Growers Estate, Siegersdorf, Penfolds Eden Valley, Tamar Ridge, Castle Rock, Skillogalee & Reilly’s Waterval which are listed in no particular order.
Our brethren from across the Tasman scored very well with the Spy Valley, Matua Valley Shingle Peak & the Siefried. All of those, surprisingly in the sweeter classes, with the NZ Trophy going to the beautifully crafted Matua Valley Shingle Peak Botrytis Riesling 2003.
It was quite interesting to analyse the results from the last two years. The Champion Trophy winners namely, last year’s St Hallett’s and this year’s 2002 Jacob’s Creek both showed just that tad more residual sugar than their more austere, minerally but time-proven counterparts.
From a marketing and retailing point of view, these results were fantastic. Sales were huge, especially for the 2002 Jacob’s Creek which immediately hit the shelves at $ 7.40 a bottle at certain wine retailers. How can the Riesling lover go wrong at that price, especially for short term cellaring and consumption!
If like me, you want a two bob each way, then by all means stock up and enjoy the St Hallett’s and the 2002 Jacobs Creek. But make sure that you also put down some of the more steely and reliable proven favorites such as the St Helga, Pewsey Vale, Leonay, Steingarten, Richmond Grove etc. for future enjoyment. These will definitely stand the test of time and more fulsomely reward proper cellaring than their more instantly pleasing counterparts. As the saying goes, horses for courses and there is certainly room for a whole diversity of tastes, wallets, levels of appreciation and enjoyment amongst the full spectrum of Rieslings currently available.
However, the strikingly obvious and undisputable fact is that we, in Australia, are making very good quality value Rieslings and we should enjoy them at all levels. The lucky country indeed!
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