Category Archives: Riesling – Wine Reviews

Howard Park Rieslings: 2018 Vintage

Barry Weinman: 25th April 2019

The Porongurups in the Great Southern region of Western Australia must surely produce the best Rieslings in Western Australia, showing great purity of fruit and outstanding balance. Whilst they lack the long history of the great Clare Valley Rieslings (such as Grosset and Leo Buring), they are challenging the quality. The other region to also star with Riesling in the last few years is Tasmania, but precious few of those make it to WA.

One producer that has consistently made high quality Riesling from the region is Howard Park. Over the last few years, their Porongurup Riesling has consistently been a star. The 2018 vintage is no exception, resulting in a perfumed, floral wine with great aging potential.

The real surprise of the tasting however, was the 2018 Flint Rock. An irresistible wine that has the ability to change how people perceive Rieslings.


Howard Park – Riesling – Flint Rock – 2018. (18.5/20pts – $28). Pretty floral notes over a core of slate-like minerality. In the mouth, this is a delight, with the floral fruit flooding the palate, with hints of tropical fruit and talc. The palate transition is quite remarkable, with the fine lemony acid only making its presence at the very close. A wine that has the potential to bring new fans to the variety.

Howard Park – Riesling – Porongurup – 2018 (18.7/20pts – $35). Similar floral aromatics to the Flint Rock, though this is a little more restrained and less obvious initially.  The palate is fresh, light and pristine, with the perfumed aromatics building over time. It is the depth of fruit that sets this apart from its siblings and is a wine for the cellar.

Residual Sugar in Riesling

Residual Sugar in Riesling

Barry Weinman: 10th October 2015

I can’t count the number of times that I have heard someone say “I don’t like sweet wines” when given the option of a glass of Riesling, only to happily slurp down a Sauvignon Blanc with significant amounts of residual sugar.

I can only presume that they are referring to cask wines that they drank in their youth, where the variety (often Colombard or table grapes) had no relation to what was on the label, and where sugar was added in bucket-loads, to make up for the lack of any flavour in the wine). I think there may also be some confusion between sweetness and floral fruit characters.

In Australia, for several decades the vast majority of our Rieslings have been bone dry. It is actually the dryness that presents challenges to early consumption, as the acid can often appear austere in the absence of a little residual sugar to add balance.

In Germany, it has been the opposite, where wines with higher levels of natural sweetness were more highly prized, and more expensive.

In recent years, there has been a gradual shift in both countries, with Australia producing a small amount of wines with higher levels of retained sugar, and Germany producing a raft of critically acclaimed (and appropriately expensive) dry wines.

Balance is Key

For me, the key to all great wines is balance. With Riesling, it is the balance of acidity and sugar. What makes the sweet German Rieslings so fabulous is the way the residual sugar is balanced by scintillating acidity. The sweetness is noticeable, but is in no-way cloying. The fine, steely acid providing the backbone to the wine.

To illustrate the point, I sat down to a fascinating master-class hosted by Red + White, where we tasted wines where the residual sugar content increased with each subsequent wine. Whilst the sugar increased in a step-wise fashion, the acidity did not, allowing the comparison of styles.Frogmore_Creek

The first wine was the 2015 Frogmore Creek (18.3pts – $27) from Tasmania. This had a modest 5 g/L of residual sugar, and total acidity was 10g/L. This is a fresh, zesty wine, with lemon and lime characters and a lovely mouth-feel. Here, the small amount of sweetness is used brilliantly to balance the acidity. A lovely, age-worthy wine.

The second wine was the 2014 Zind-HumbrechtTurckheim (17pts) from Alsace. This is a wine that is fermented in the large old oak vats that are typical of the region. Whist the sugar increased to 6.1g/l, the total acidity dropped to only 5.1gms/l, almost half that of the Frogmore. This resulted in a wine that tasted more obviously sweet, due to the lack of balancing acidity.

Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt – Josephshöfer – Kabinett

Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt – Josephshöfer – Kabinett

There was no need to question the origins of the 2014 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt – Josephshöfer – Kabinett (18.7pts). Here, the residual sugar is much higher, at 25g/l and total acidity sits at 7.8g/l. (alcohol = 9.5%). There is beautiful floral fruit over complex minerality. The palate is quite superb, the obvious sweetness balanced by precise, focused acidity. A thrilling German Riesling!

We finished with the Felton Road Bannockburn (17.9pts) from Central Otago. This wine has a remarkable 74g/l of residual sugar and 9g/l of total acidity. This opened with floral fruit and obvious sweetness, yet the racy acidity balanced this to make a satisfying and moreish drink that tastes nowhere near as sweet as might be imagined.

If you are looking for a wine to take you out of your comfort zone, then I would strongly recommend the Reichsgaff von Kesselstatt . A brilliant wine that needs no accompaniment!



Riesling – New Release

Barry Weinman: 9th October 2015

Riesling must surely be Australia’s best value grape variety. Refreshing in its youth, yet capable of developing wonderful complexity and richness with age.

Riesling can also be made in a variety of styles, from bone-dry to intensely sweet, with all styles in between. It was suggested recently that Champagne was the most versatile of wine styles, but surely Riesling deserves this title, as it can be consumed on its own, or with all manner of food styles.


Pewsey Vale – Riesling – The Contours – 2009 (18+). Lime, minerals, slate, with the first signs of complexity and richness from 6 years in bottle. Steely, lemony acid on a palate that is bright and long. There is also a touch of phenolic richness to close. Drinking a treat now, or any time over the next 10 years. (RRP $35).

Singlefile – Riesling – Mt Barker/Great Southern – 2015 (18.5). A touch of retained CO2 as demonstrated by a slight effervescence in the glass. Fragrant lime and lemon zest aromas. There is lovely mouth-feel with near seamless palate transition. Very long and fine, this is a delicate, finely balanced wine. (RRP $30).

Singlefile – Riesling – Porongorup – 2015 (18). Delicate, fragrant and perfumed. The palate is refined and elegant. The pristine fruit is of decent quality, though not quite as intense as its sister wine from Mt Barker. There is a near seamless quality on the palate that builds depth with air. Drying finish. (RRP $25).

Salomon Wines – April 2015


A few weeks back, Burt Salomon was in town to showcase his range of wines. What makes Salomon unusual though, is the fact that he makes wines on both sides of the equator. Having established a passion for making wines in the new world, Burt took over the reins at his family’s wine business in Austria a few years back.

The results are that there are quality wines being made under the Salomon label from both Austria (white wine) and Australia (red wine). This blending of new and old techniques has allowed Salomon to experiment with styles, challenging the convention with some of the whites in particular.

Below is a selection of wines that I particularly enjoyed.

Grunner Veltliner

Hochterrassen 2013 (17).

Savoury, almost apricot fruit on the nose. Light and fresh in the mouth, with decent mouth-feel and texture. A neutral wine made for early consumption with food. (Think Pinot Grigio). (RRP $27).

Wieden & Berg Kremstal 2013 (17.5).

A lovley, aromatic example that has apricot and a nutty cashew character. The palate is slightly viscous, and mouth-coating. Long and supple, the zesty lemon-like acidity carries the finish. Good drinking. (RRP $34).

Wachtberg Kremstal DAC & Erste & Lage 2013 (18.5).

This wine is a step up in quality in every way, and worth the modest price premium. There is density to the fruit that is quite remarkable. The power is palpable. The length and texture on the finish are note-worthy. The apricot notes are more muted, with supple citrus and fine, tingling acidity. Superb wine. (RRP $38).

Von Stein Kremestal DAC Reserve 2013 (18.5+).

A brilliant nose that is floral, fragrant and delicate, yet packed with power and intensity. The stonefruit notes continue, but the density and intensity are superb. Worth seeking out. (RRP $64)


Undhof Kogl 2012 (18).

Reminiscent of a wine from the Porongorups, with fragrant fruit over a mineral core. Lovely lime-like fruit and excellent acidity on the palate, closing with a refreshing citrus tang. The fruit has a degree of density and viscosity that is attractive. Good line and length. (RRP $38).

Stiener Kogl Kremestal DAC Reserve 2011 (18.5).

The richness to the fruit is disarming. This is dense, viscous, textural and very long. There are lime characters, but with complex minerals and an almost musk-like lift. The finish is off-dry and all the better for it. Superb wine. 18.5 (RRP $59).

Aromatic Whites – Current Release – May 2014

Reviewed: May 18th 2014

There was an eclectic collection of wines at this tasting which presented some significant challenges. Not knowing the variety, or even the style avoided any preconceptions, but it also meant that there were some style clashes. A bone-dry riesling is always going to be difficult to taste after an SSB that has a degree of residual sugar.

That said, the two rieslings mentioned are well worth a look.


Willoughby Park – Riesling – Ironrock – 2013 (18). Restrained and taut, with steely minerality. This continues on the palate, with lovely lime juice and superb acidity that carries the finish. Slightly dumb on the mid palate, but with air this became wonderfully fragrant. Ideally this needs a few years to flesh out, but is a superb wine.

Zarephath – Riesling – 2013 (17.5 – 18). Very pale colour. Fresh and floral, with lime and lemon juice notes. The palate has fresh acidity, yet is soft, supple and quite delicious. A sublime wine with excellent length and a near seamless finish.

Hay Shed Hill – Chardonnay – 2013 ( 17.5). Initially quite neutral on the nose. The palate has barrel ferment and lees characters over quality fruit. Think pineapple and nectarine. Quite a serious wine that has been well handled. The finish is almost chewy and textured, but the lemony fruit and crisp acidity makes for an excellent wine.

Stella Bella – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Skuttlebutt – 2013 (17). A very drinkable wine here. This is characterised by lovely mouth-feel and texture. Excellent length with focused acidity to balance the fruit on the drying finish. An excellent wine with, or without food.

Millbrook – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Barking Owl – 2013 (17). I like the balance here. Floral fruit and citrus blossom is set against a background of minerals and flinty acidity. Good length, the touch of phenolic grip adds to the mouth-feel and finish.

Yilgarnia – Semillon – 2013 (17). Quite a smart wine that has fresh, vibrant fruit set against complex minerality. There is depth and presence here. This is not a quaffing wine. The complex array of flavours include lemon-like fruit and just a hint of minerals.

Riesling – New Release

Reviewed: 10th September 2013

Pewsey Vale – Riesling – Contours – 2008 (18.5).  Initially, this appears oily, developed, toasty and maturing, though there are no signs of kerosene, yet the fruit is wonderfully dense and rich.  The wine really opens and builds with time in the glass, allowing the fruit to really express itself.  The toasty notes settle back into the wine and there is amazing length.  This became much fresher in the glass, suggesting that further aging would not be out of place.  The next day, this was a stunning drink!

Xabregas – Riesling – X – Figtree – 2011 (18).  Lovely lemon blossom fruit here.  The nose is floral, aromatic, tender, supple, round and balanced.  Yet there is a minerality that runs alongside bright acidity that combines to confer a very long finish.  The touch of residual sugar softens the palate making this an excellent drink now, yet the intensity of the quality fruit suggests that aging is assured.

Grant Burge – Riesling – Thorn – 2012 (17.5+).  Tight, with minerals, floral notes and delicate citrus.  Actually, everything about this wine is delicate.  Precise and very long, this is a youthful wine with real potential.

Koonowla – Riesling – 2013 (17.5+).  Musk, sherbet and lemon blossom on a nose that is pretty and perfumed.  Right now, the citrus-like acidity on the palate is the defining feature.  This will be very good, but it needs a year or two to soften and will live for many more.  From the Clare Valley.

Ferngrove – Riesling – Off Dry – 2012 (17.8).  Spectacular nose that combines lovely citrus fruit with the first signs of development.  The palate is bright and fresh, yet again, shows some oily complexity.  The delicate finish is very long.  This is off dry, but the citrus fruit and acid match the residual sugar perfectly.  Irresistible now, but could also be aged if required.

Angove – Riesling – Long Row – 2013 (17.4).  Lean and fresh, but perfectly balanced.  Long and fine, though just a touch linear and one-dimensional.  A delicate, fine wine that has the potential to age for a few years.  At $12, this is awesome value.

Riesling and Sparkling Wine

New Release

Reviewed: 18 January 2012

I was most surprised when the covers came of the sparkling wines from Jete during our panel tasting. Well made wines with enough interest to make for excellent drinking.

The highlights of the tasting came from the riesling brackets. The wines from Howard Park were superb, whilst the wines from Frankland Estate were the best that I can remember from this producer.

In both cases, it was fascinating to see how the different vineyards expressed themselves in the glass. If you are interested in holding an interesting tasting, then get the team from Frankland Estate to send you one of each of their current releases.

Reviewed – Sparkling

Jete – Chardonnay/Pinot Noir – Sparkling – NV (17). Clean and fresh, with some Granny Smith apple and some autolysis notes. Bready finish with plenty of acid to keep the balance. Sympathetic dosage adds to the enjoyment with good length to boot. A touch of bitterness on the finish works well.

Yarrabank – Pinot Noir/Chardonnay – Sparkling – 2007 (16.9). Darker colour tending to straw and a very fine bead suggest more bottle age here. Complex, round and balanced, this is a very good effort showing brioche, bread dough and a hint of honeyed development. Good mouth-feel and length. The finish is a touch dominated by the toast, but otherwise, this is a fine wine. Caramel notes to close further hint at some bottle age.

Jete – Rose – Sparkling – NV (16.8). Very pale colour here. This is round and soft with hints of red fruits and apple. Not particularly complex, but an enjoyable wine with good length.

Reviewed – Riesling

Frankland Estate – Riesling – Isolation Ridge – 2011 (18.5). Perfumed talc on the nose, with musk, pear and a hint of sherbet. The palate is superb, with fresh citrus and beautiful balance. The length is excellent and the finish near seamless. A lovely wine that will age gracefully.

Howard Park – Riesling – Porongurup – 2011 (18.5). Very pale colour, this is very undeveloped. Seamless, restrained, taut and balanced, this is a sublime wine of real class. Superb mouth-feel with great intensity and length. This will live for a very long time, developing character and richness as it goes.

Frankland Estate – Riesling – Poison Hill – 2011 (18). More chalky minerals with citrus and frangipani, this is very understated. The quality is obvious, but the wine is very shy. Again, the mouth-feel is excellent and the finish silky. Good length to close. Will only get better.

Howard Park – Riesling – Great Southern – 2011 (18). More forward, with obvious lemony fruit. The palate is zesty and very long. The finish is complex, the mouth-feel excellent and the flavours really linger. Very enjoyable now or in ten years. I would drink these while waiting for the Porongorup to hit its peak.

Frankland Estate – Riesling – Netley Road Vineyard – 2011 (17.8). Lovely nose that is both intense, yet reserved. The palate is reserved, and the acidity is the main feature now. There is citrus fruit in the background, but this needs time to come out. Very long indeed, a few years will do this the world of good.

Frankland Estate – Riesling – Rocky Gully – 2011 (17.5). Lovely lime fruit here. Slate, wet stone and hints of talc and floral notes add interest. On the palate there is fresh lime juice up front, but the finish is a highlight. Long, intense and balanced, this is near seamless. Great value.

Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon & Riesling

New Release

Reviewed: 22 June 2012

A variety of styles on display here. The complexity of the sauvignon blancs that had seen some oak appealed to the panel, though, like chardonnay, they could do with a couple of years in the bottle to reach their peak.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Brown Brother Patricia dessert wine was lauded by the panel. A superb wine that will hold its own against many high priced Sauternes, though the style is different.

Reviewed – Dry

The Lane – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – The Gathering – 2009 (17.5+). Very textural wine. This is more akin to chardonnay, with creamy oak and lees/barrel ferment notes and lemony fruit. This is a powerful wine with great length and oak complexity. Like a good chardonnay, I would encourage you to give this plenty of air or a year or two in the bottle to allow the fruit to come through.

Leeuwin Estate – Sauvignon Blanc – Art Series – 2011 (17.5). One of the more serious wine here, in that it has been deftly massaged in the winery. The quality fruit has been well managed and displays plenty of southern Margaret River grassy notes. The palate hads nutty flavours and is textured, intense and pristine. Very long with good mouth-feel, the acid is still firm. Oak complexity (courtesy of the 30% of the fruit that was barrel fermented), fills out the finish.

Millbrook – Sauvignon Blanc – 2012 (17.2). Less grassy fruit and more tropical flavours than a lot of WA SB’s. Zesty palate that is long, with passionfruit pulp to close. Persistent and mouth-filling, the finish is very drying. A smart wine from Margaret River.

Chalk Board – Sauvignon Blanc – 2010 (17). Cut grass on the nose, but there is a lot more going on here. I wonder if this has seen a touch of barrel ferment, as the textural component of the wine is a standout. Long and fresh, the acidity ties the palate together well. A surprisingly serious wine. Made by Wairau River from Marlborough fruit.

Galafrey – Sauvignon Blanc – Sauvy – 2011 (16.8). Racy, precise, textured and long, this is an excellent drink. This has quite delicate floral fruit, but I expect it to open up with a few more months in the bottle. There is a hint of residual sugar to balance out the palate nicely.

Mount Riley – Sauvignon Blanc – Marlborough – 2011(16.5). Overt and attractive nose. Grassy and herbaceous to start, with tropical highlights building in the glass. Long and tight, this is a leaner style that is very drinkable.

De Bortoli – Sauvignon Blanc – La Bossa – 2011(15.5). Bright and fresh, though quite simple fruit. Pleasant, fresh fruit flavours combine well with a touch of residual sugar to make this an excellent quaff.

Reviewed – Sweet

Brown Brothers – Riesling – Patricia – 2008 (18.2). Amazing palate that is intense, yet very fine and elegant. Long and fine, this should not be served too cold. The balance here is the key, as the wine blends power, intensity and persistence with finesse and elegance. A complex, botrytis affected wine with dried apricot and citrus peel and acidity that gives the wine real life on the palate.

Cherubino – Riesling – The Yard – Botrytis – 2010 (17.4). Volatile, but in a good way with hints of varnish and resin. Much more viscous than the Clairault, with greater length on the palate and moderate persistence. Apricots, honey and marmalade on an unctuous finish.

Clairault – Riesling – Cane Cut – 2011 (17.3). Lovely nose redolent of apricots, but with much more to offer. Fresh, bright, long and intense fruit on the palate with just enough acidity to balance the sweetness. Intense and persistent, this is a lovely drink. (Though lacks the ultimate length of the best).

Juniper Estate – Riesling – Cane Cut – 2010 (17). Lighter and fresher than the others here, this is a little less sweet, and all the better for it. This will be the perfect foil for cheese or lighter desserts.

Riesling – New Release

Reviewed: 4 February 2013

Riesling is a fascinating grape as it can take on many different personalities depending on where it is grown and how it is handled in the winery. Bone dry, off dry, medium or sweet, the choice is yours. As long as there is appropriate acidity to balance the sweetness, the result can be thrilling.

This tasting had a variety of styles. Do not be afraid to try the wines that are off-dry. Done well, this style can offer immense drinking pleasure.


Howard Park – Riesling – Porongurup – 2012 (18+). Because this wine is quite closed and tight, it initially shows subdued fruit in a soft, round package that is easy to like and very satisfying. Opens to show apple, floral notes and citrus blossom, with minerality and precise acidity rounding out the palate. Deceptively delicious now, this is very age-worthy.

Galafrey – Riesling – Dry Land – 2012 (18). Minerals over lime-like fruit characters on the nose, while the palate is powerful, yet austere. The minerality is a feature of the palate combined with tart phenolic texture. Racy and lively, this has quality fruit and should age well.

Howard Park – Riesling – Great Southern – 2012 (18). Wow, this has piercing acidity right now. Very young and powerful, this wine is all about potential. The thrust on the palate is intense and powerful, but there is no joy at present. Drink the Porongurup while waiting for this to become ready.

West Cape Howe – Riesling – Mount Barker – 2012 (17.8). Very attractive, if somewhat subdued nose. The palate is fresh and racy with lemony fruit and acid. Not overly complex, this is an excellent mid-tier wine that can be enjoyed now or in ten years. Classic style.

Bellarmine – Riesling – Dry – 2012 (17.5 – 18). Almost tropical fruit on the nose and the palate. There is limey fruit that is fleshy and delicious, while the finish is near seamless and beautifully balanced. The flavours linger for some time. I am not sure why they label this as dry, as it is not bone dry. Perfect for current drinking.

Singlefile – Riesling – Porongurup – 2012 (17.5). Opens with floral fruit that is both attractive and alluring. The palate is rich and forward, with a touch of phenolics to add texture. The finish is dominated by lovely refreshing acidity that has citrus overtones. Delicious, but will also develop well in the medium term. Excellent length and persistence.

Leo Buring – Riesling – Clare Valley – 2012 (17.5). Closed on the nose, the palate has textbook riesling characters. Think citrus with a touch of fragrant, floral perfume. The plate is fresh, vibrant and zesty, yet well balanced. Delicious now, but will be better in a few years.

Riesling – New Release

Reviewed: 28 October 2012

This was a very instructive tasting. There was no surprise that wines from the likes of Pewsey Vale, Cherubino and O’Leary Walker were of high quality. What was a surprise was just how good the new Millbrook riesling is. This is definitely a winery to watch as they are making some excellent wines right now.

An interesting point to come out of the tasting was that several of the wines were a touch reductive. After even half an hour in the bottle, the wines became progressively brighter and more full of life.


Pewsey Vale – Riesling – Contours – 2007 (18.7). A wine in two parts. This is more golden coloured reflecting time in the bottle, with lovely honeyed development on the nose. The palate is outstanding, with toasty development coming in over lovely citrus fruit. The length is excellent and the intensity of the finish has to be tried to be appreciated. Superb drinking, this is more developed than I would have expected from a wine of this age. With air though, this freshened up remarkably, leaving a wine that, at five years, is only part way through its life. Remarkable!

Cherubino – Riesling – Porongurup – 2012 (18.5). Very pale colour. The wine possesses a restrained nose that is taut and fine, the nervous energy palpable. The palate bursts forth with lime and lemon zest characters, lovely acidity and tremendous depth. Very long and seamless, this is a superb wine that, whilst drinking beautifully now, will get even better over the next 10+ years.

Millbrook – Riesling – 2012 (18.2). Lean and elegant in comparison to some here. This is a very fine wine of some quality. The palate has lemony fruit over minerals and slate. The acid is a highlight and really frames the fruit well. Great length and intensity, the near seamless palate possesses a vibrancy that is addictive. A superb wine from the Great Southern.

Cherubino – Riesling – Great Southern – 2012 (18+). Very pale straw colour. The nose is closed, reserved, tight, fine elegant and restrained. Yet there is life and vitality on the palate, as the acid and fruit is pristine and bright. With an extremely long and fine finish, this will blossom over the next ten years. Even better after a day on the tasting bench.

O’Leary Walker – Riesling – Polish Hill River – 2012 (17.9). Positively alive and leaping from the glass. This has all the characteristics of good riesling, with excellent length and acid on the finish. High quality fruit that has been made bone dry.

Pewsey Vale – Riesling – Prima – 2011 (17.8). The first thing that you notice with this wine is the Germanic level of sweetness. After this, the fine, high quality fruit (grapefruit) and fresh, vibrant acidity cut through making the balance quite superb. The fruit characters are a touch subdued, but this gets added marks for being a great drink. Harvested three weeks earlier than the rest of the vineyard, this has 24 grams of residual sugar and less than 10% alcohol. It will make a superb stand-alone drink on a warm afternoon this summer.

Pewsey Vale – Riesling – 2012 (17.7+). Remarkably tight and fine, with lovely citrus notes on the nose. Minerality, lime and lemon zest acidity flood the palate, with a touch of phenolic richness on the finish. Like several wines in the tasting, this really shone after being open for a few hours. Will evolve and improve and sure to score higher points.

O’Leary Walker – Riesling – Watervale – 2012 (17.5+). A slightly richer style with more upfront fruit and body. When first opened, the phenolics on the finish made this a bit grippy, yet, again, this really improved with air. Good length and texture now with a lovely finish. This will age very well

Duke’s – Riesling – Single Vineyard – 2012 (17.5). Fragrant sherbet and musk over lime brulée. There is a lovely mouth-feel here, with creamy fruit and soft, though fresh and persistent acid. A lovely drink now, but should also evolve for some time. From the Porongorups.