Tasting T3.4 Australia & New Zealand Riesling

Here we have all dry Rieslings from Aus & NZ. Riesling has an amazing ability to offer extremely exotic flavours, generally wherever it is grown. Citrus is a hallmark flavour with pineapple, mango and apricot additional flavours based on the ripeness of the grape. Of course, Riesling also comes in all types of dry or sweet varieties. You do tend to find that Riesling is utilised more on the sweeter end in many different countries. The main countries you will find Riesling in is France, Germany, Australia and USA. However, Austria and New Zealand are planting more and more vineyards with this grape and therefore we included a New Zealand Riesling in this tasting.

We have 6 wines, 5 of which are from Australia and one from New Zealand as previously mentioned. Clare Valley in Australia is the main source of Riesling vineyards and as such we have three wines from there. Yarra Valley is not particularly well known for producing Riesling but has started to produce some cracking Riesling wines and therefore we included 2 from there. The single New Zealand wine we have is from Central Otago.

The Wineries are:

Grosset Wines

A small, family run estate that is now starting its fifth decade. The key vision here is to create pure expressions of the variety and place of wines. Established in 1981 founder Jeffrey Grosset purchased an old milk depot, thus Grosset Wines was born. A great background in wine Jeffrey decided he wanted to do his own thing. His innovation is key to his success with all wines vegan friendly with no chemicals or pesticides used in the vineyards, also no filtering agents used either. Only 8 staff work at this estate and it is clear to see that you do not have to be bigger to be better.

Felton Road

Purchased by Nigel Greening in 2000, Felton Road has become synonymous with quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from New Zealand. However, their Riesling has also been receiving lots of plaudits over the years. All vineyards are farmed organically and biodynamically. Head winemaker Blair Walter has had significant success in both Oregon and Burgundy and came over to Felton Road to get the best out of the vines that he could. Most people would argue that it definitely worked. Felton Road produce some of the best Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy and both their Chardonnay and Riesling wines are right up there.

Mac Forbes Wines

Created in 2004 by Mac himself he wasted absolutely no time in production and produced the first vintage in 2005. All of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling were produced. In 2011 they moved to whole bunch pressing and in 2012 they moved to cork closures for their single vineyard wines. Throughout the last 19 years Mac is at pains to point out that the winery has evolved dramatically. Moving from different cork/cap closures to then changing their vinification practices to also purchasing new vineyards that perhaps 10 years ago were considered too difficult for vine growing. It honestly sounds like something changes nearly every year here and yet the quality of his wines have continued to shine with purity and expression of place key.

Jim Barry Wines

Peter Barry (son of Jim) is of course second generation winemaker at Jim Barry Wines. Having graduated in 1983 he then became Managing Director in 1985. Over the decades he has embarked on a steady expansion of the company’s vineyards and of exporting to other countries. His two sons Tom and Sam and his daughter Olivia are all heavily involved in the estate. Rather like Grosset Wines this is a strong, family run estate that produces exceptional wines.

Tonight’s tasters are David, Harry, Kim & Jen.

Grosset Wines Springvale Riesling 2021

Hand-harvested and fermented in stainless steel vats.

Note: Peaches, apples, limes, lemons, clean and crisp with great freshness. Lovely exotic flavours of lychee and pineapple on the palate with those citrusy flavours nicely combining. A medium – full bodied weight with racy acidity offering lovely balance with great purity of white fleshed fruits. A good depth of flavour and nice concentration with a lovely medium length finish.

Felton Road Dry Riesling 2020

Hand-harvested then carefully whole bunch pressed. Long fermentation of 8 weeks with the wine resting on fine lees.

Note: Citrus, apples, pears and grapefruit on the nose. Lots of really zingy and lively fruit, lots of limes, lemons, oranges. Medium mid palate weight with lots of limes, grapefruit and apples on the palate. This is a very lovely wine with good balance and structure but definitely needs a bit more time to develop. This is drinking well but will certainly evolve over the next 8-10 years and will be even better.

Mac Forbes RS3 Riesling 2019

Concrete and oak ageing for this wine, Mac doesn’t produce tasting notes or any kind of note… it’s a little difficult therefore to find out what exactly he did!

Note: Light and endearing in every sense of the word. Apples, pears and limes with extreme minerality are all key here. A full bodied wine with precise and clean crushed rock and saline nuances. Racy acidity with lots of limes and grapefruit, adding great vibrancy and liveliness to a very young, sleeping wine. This is just starting to show off but will need a good few years to produce its outstanding potential. Give it another 7 years minimum then drink over the next decade.

Jim Barry Florita Riesling 2019

De-stemmed and pressed with cool fermentation taking place with selected yeasts.

Note: Muscular and full bodied. Richness and excellent depth of flavour. Orange blossom, lemons, limes and hints of lychee and apple. An exceptional wine with elegance, finesse and purity of fruit throughout. Perhaps lacking slightly in overall concentration and depth of fruit however there is plenty to be getting on with. This is drinking really well now and will certainly continue for the next 7-10 years.

Grosset Wines Polish Hill Riesling 2017

Planted on silt and shallow shales over a thin crust of clay and gravel, this site typifies how soil can impart certain flavours. Hand-harvested again, with fermentation taking place in stainless steel vats.

Note: Apples, pears, limes, white flowers and orange zest. Full bodied wine with richness, clean cut acidity and concentration of fruit. This delivers on many fronts. Excellent creamy texture on the palate adding layer upon layer of pear, orange and limes. An extremely long finish with fruit driving towards the very end. This is fantastic and deserves all the plaudits. Drink now and over the next 8-10 years.

Mac Forbes RS28 Riesling 2017

I actually managed to find a pdf on the deep web… don’t ask. Large old oak barrels were used for fermentation and then some in stainless steel as well. Time on gross lees before bottling.

Note: Orange zest, white flowers, mango, lychee and citrus on the nose. Full bodied, rich and intense flavour on the palate. Lovely layered flavours of orange, mango and citrus nicely combining with excellent concentration and depth of fruit. There is lovely balance here with good structure and an extremely long finish. This is drinking really well now and will certainly evolve over the next 7-10 years. An absolute must for your collection.


Riesling is a grape that I have an open affair with. In terms of white grape varieties you should all know by now that Chardonnay is my one true love. However, Riesling just gets me. Ever since I first tried it about 13-14 years ago I was absolutely captivated. My first taste of Riesling was actually from Alsace from Hugel et Fils and I fell in love with it immediately.

These wines above (with scores below) have shown me a completely different style of Riesling… and again I love it. The ability to have a wine that is so full bodied, creamy and textured and yet to have light citrus, white flower and orange zest aromas/flavour profiles is just mind boggling. I highly recommend any of these wines if you are looking for a different Riesling style. They all stood out for differing reasons but one key reason stayed the same, they are all extremely well made.

The scores:

Springvale Riesling 2021 – Points 92

Dry Riesling 2020 – 92 Points

RS3 2019 – 92 Points

Florita 2019 – 94 Points

Polish Hill 2017 – 95+ Points

RS28 2017 – 95+ Points

Thank you for reading as always and I hope you enjoyed the article!

I am honestly not sure which article I am going to do next week… I have a few options so it’ll be a nice surprise for you all!

Thanks again and have a lovely weekend 😊

Harry Vernau

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