Long Flat Eden Valley Riesling 2004
This is a $12 wine whose drinking generates mirthful comment. South Australia's Eden
Valley (so easy to confuse with California's Edna Valley), lies parallel to, adjacent to, just
east of, and higher than the state's famed Barossa Valley, so renowned for its Shiraz.
Riesling is the Eden Valley's major grape, especially at its cooler higher altitudes. Although
the wine is unquestionably dry, the ripeness of the characteristic lime juice fools the palate
into thinking sweet. This, to my mind, is the best sort of sweet; with little real sugar involved,
it cannot cloy, it can only inspire as it is chaperoned by a racy, and confident, acidity. The
wine presents a slight spritz.
It would be a shame to leave the wine's excellent finish to the end. It is tri-furcated: the acidity of citrus and tropical fruit, a warm minerality, a certain note of biscuit and toast. (“biscuit” in wine terms is a Briticism, the British “biscuit” referring to what Americans call a cookie, I assume the type of demure crisp tan cookie they serve in England when you order tea.)
The wine's minerality demands more than a word. My first word was “rubber” (I think here
of the movie Malaya, with Spencer Tracy and Jimmy Stewart), but no. I played with
“tar,” then there came of course “petrol” (another Briticism), then “flint,” but it isn't flinty,
“stone,” but it isn't stony, until I realized that the minerality doesn't present itself
On the nose and palate I get notes of what I call “topical lime,” but also a rich orange, a
slightly bitter orange peel, the floral note of orange blossom, pineapple, banana, and even
some kiwi, a true jump from the Riesling grape's origin in Germany. They harvest these
grapes at night and keep the entire winemaking process cool. This resulting wine is clean,
honestly clean, and if there is a commonality with its old world antecedents (other than the
minerality and the tethered acidity), it may be a note of just picked pear. As the better
German Rieslings near demand you plumb their depths and hence enjoy yourself in drinking
them, this Aussie entrant is no less insistent on waiting until you let your hair down, loosen
your tie, and come to do things its way. The geographic stretch involved only highlights the
fact that Riesling is a truly great grape.
Verdict: Kick Off Your Shoes First
It is a joy to follow the Riesling grape around the world; if the grape keeps speaking long enough, it may overcome some of its bad press. My suspicion is that it will endure.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman