I Love Fine Wine – A South Australia Riesling

It was only after I finished this bottle (hint, to the last drop) that I read its 2012 vintage was named as the best wine in Australia at Dan Murphy’s National Wine Show in Canberra. I wonder. I can’t forget that Australia makes some mighty fine wines, some of which can compete with virtually anything in the world. Jim Barry was an internationally known wine maker, established in South Australia’s Clare Valley in 1959. The winery boasts 4 vineyards in the Valley. Lodge Hill has brown loam soil over a layer of clay and slate bedrock that is an unbelievable 900 million years old. What more can I say? The companion wine is a mixed Riesling and Vidal (check out the article for more information on that second grape) at half the price.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed
Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Dry Riesling 2011 12 % alcohol $20.

We wiil start with the marketing materials. “Description : Gold Medal winner at the 2011 Royal Queensland Wine Show. A fabulous wine for grilled calamari or a shrimp with pesto pasta dish. Tasting Note : Bright, pale green, the wine has a complex bouquet of spice, citrus and apple, the perfectly balanced palate even more complex, with its flavor span anchored by citrus but extending into cool climate chardonnay notes of white peach and grapefruit… Drink until 2025. Score – 95. (James Halliday, at the Australian wine companion web site , Nov. 18, 2011).” And now for my review.

At the first sips this wine was subtly sweet and offered the taste of lime and white grapefruit. The initial meal centered on a dry commercial, garlicky barbecued chicken breast. In response the libation picked up. It tasted burnt and was long. The accompanying pickle-laced potato salad lightened the contents of my glass, which became more acidic. The white grapefruit taste intensified. The other side dish was a Turkish salad (according to the label) that consisted of onions, tomato paste, red peppers, vegetable oil, garlic, and sugar. And now our Australian friend had peaches added to the mix. This blahish meal terminated with a square or two of Swiss bittersweet chocolate. The liquid was subtle, or perhaps just weak, but its acidity was good.

The second meal centered on a baked salmon filet that was marinated in agave and then coated with sesame seeds. In response whitey was very long and mouth filling with caramel without being very sweet. Steamed red and white quinoa increased the libation’s sweetness and acidity . A mixed salad made the liquid sweet and sour. Delicious homemade (isn’t it usually far beyond the store-bought stuff?) roasted eggplant in garlic and oil made the drink appley and slightly sweet. This meal finished with Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Banana Ice Cream with Fudge Chunks and Walnuts (one of my favorites.) I got subtle acidity and some fruit. Let’s be frank, I liked this ice cream and I liked this wine but I didn’t like the combo.

The final meal’s focus was an omelet nicely spiced with red cayenne pepper, basil leaves, and sliced garlic. The rotted grapes gave me powerful citrus, especially lime and a tinge of sweetness. Japanese rice crackers, no Wasabi means virtually no taste, rendered the liquid harshly acidic with a taste of citrus. Zesty guacamole darkened the wine. Its acidity deepened and its harshness disappeared. The liquid responded to fresh strawberries with the fine taste of delicious wood. Dark chocolate made it smoky and oily.

Final verdict. I liked this wine. I liked it a lot and would definitely buy it again. But 95? Not a chance. And the best Australian wine of the year. Absolutely nac. Of course, I didn’t taste the 2012. What a difference a year makes. Like I say, buy it. But you shouldn’t buy it thinking it’s the best Australian wine of the year. It isn’t.

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but prefers drinking fine Iwine with good company. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. His Italiian  travel website is http://www.travelitalytravel.com .

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