Robert Oatley, Riesling, Great Southern, West Australia, 2014
On the Great Southern wine region
This is a vast rectangular viticultural region, measuring 200km E-W by 120km N-S, with a generally cool climate, ranging from coastal Mediterranean, to inland semi-continental. Irrigation is widely practiced . It comprises 5 sub-regions – Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup. Established varieties include chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc, semillon; cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and shiraz. The total grape crush is 60:40, red to white (2008) .
Moving through the sub-regions …
Albany – coastal with a Mediterranean climate, with cool wet winters and warm dry summers – just like the south of France, with temperatures mitigated by cooling sea breezes. Growing season rainfall is ~300 mm. Soils are well-drained fertile gravelly-sandy loam, so vine vigour is actively managed. Favoured varieties, from the top, are chardonnay (the best are barrel fermented) , pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, merlot. Riesling is developing a name further inland from the coast .
Denmark – climate and soils are similar to those of Albany, quite fertile and so also require vigour management. Favoured varieties, from the top, are chardonnay (as still wine, but also paired with pinot noir for sparkling), sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot (oft blended with cabernet), shiraz, riesling (can show piercing acidity), pinot noir.
Frankland River – the northern-most sub-region, semi-continental with cool nights and long warm days, suiting riesling, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. It has a hotter drier climate, where drought is an issue, and water supply for irrigation can be problematic . The principal varieties, from the top, are shiraz, riesling, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, semillon, merlot, pinot noir. The area is noted for its cabernet sauvignon, riesling, pinot noir and shiraz .
Mount Barker – the most important sub-region, with gently rolling hills, and a more continental climate with a marked diurnal variation, suiting riesling and shiraz. Annual rainfall is ideal at ~650 mm (~300 mm in the growing season), with some vineyards dry farmed. Soils are gravelly-sandy loam. Principal varieties, from the top, are riesling, shiraz (medium-full bodied), cabernet sauvignon (with a classic sensory profile), chardonnay (the best are barrel fermented), sauvignon blanc, merlot, cabernet franc.
Porongurup – loam soils from weathered granite. A similar climate to adjoining Mount Barker, with just 300 mm of rain in the growing season. The cool climate especially suits chardonnay, pinot noir and riesling, for which there is a growing reputation, also being a source for boutique wineries . Favoured varieties, from the top, are riesling, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon (medium-bodied, shows well in blends with merlot), chardonnay, merlot, cabernet franc, verdelho, pinot noir (on the light bodied side).
This wine: lot No. none given, so a single bottling run is assumed; a regional blend of varietal riesling, screw-cap closure, 12.5% abv, Ann et Vin, £12.50 (03/18)
Consumer tasting note: lemon-hued, with aromas of lime juice, lemon pith, cooking apple, and herbal hints; medium-full bodied, quite smooth, with flavours of lime, lemon and stewed cooking apple. A medium length, with a low-key grip from the thick-skinned riesling variety. Can decant for 30-60 minutes.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, medium intensity lemon, showing tears.
Nose: clean, medium (+) intensity, youthful, with aromas as they come, of lime juice edged with a suggestion of gorse flower (delicate coconut-like), a frill of sugary confection, lemon pith, warm lemon juice, herbal nuances, hints of crisp cooking apple, lemon boiled sweets.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, medium (+) body, medium (+) intensity, a low-key grip, with a smooth, not quite oily texture, and a sense of sweetness in mid-palate, with flavours of lime juice edged with a hint of gorse flower (delicate coconut-like), warm lemon pith, stewed cooking apple. A medium length with a clean fresh citric lightly grippy finish, and a touch of sweetness on the end.
Quality: good, perfectly balanced acidity with alcohol; sound intensity throughout, slightly lesser concentration; showing some primary fruit complexity. Follows into a medium length.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: drink now, unsuited to ageing, but will keep for 1-2 years – a sound structure with brisk acidity for longevity, but otherwise lacking for the long run, along with a modest length.