BY NEIL PIKE
I am constantly amazed at the resilience of Riesling.
In the past decade we have copped some pretty interesting seasons in our neck of the woods. In fact, we’ve just about seen it all.
We’ve had drought years, hot years, wet years, ideal years and even a cool year in the decade since 2006.
The Riesling vineyards of Clare seem to take whatever is thrown at them and still produce decent fruit. For instance, we made really good Rieslings in 2008 and 2011, two of the toughest of years. While slightly different to our norm, they are still very consumable and very Clare.
Indeed, we can add 2016 to the list; another interesting season. At one stage we projected the earliest ever start to our Riesling vintage – in late January! Ridiculously early, considering we have traditionally commenced the Riesling harvest in the first week of March.
Thankfully a decent soak of rain at the end of January, combined with below average temperatures in both January and February, served to freshen up the vineyards and put the start date back by a few weeks. In fact, I have no doubt this saved the vintage.
All in all, the resultant wines are really very good. Slightly lower than usual alcohol, excellent flavour intensity and the retention of natural acidity are the standout features of the 2016 Rieslings for us. Both the “Traditionale” and “The Merle” wines from 2016 are right in the zone and I’m certain that both will prove to be excellent examples of our dry Riesling style.
So, just how does the 2016 Riesling vintage rate?
It’s possibly a little early to tell just yet, but I am willing to suggest it will sit very comfortably up there with the excellent 2014 and 2015 vintages, but probably not quite to the level of the exceptional 2012.
Of course, time will provide the answer.
Treasury Vineyard Acquisition
We are delighted to reveal that we were the successful bidder for a 16ha Riesling vineyard situated immediately adjacent to our existing estate at Polish Hill River.
Planted in 1980 by then owner Wolf Blass, this vineyard became part of the Annie’s Lane Vineyard in the 1990s under Treasury Wine Estates ownership and was recently put up for tender.
This acquisition will increase our Polish Hill River vineyard holdings to 120ha. We see the purchase as being in line with our commitment to both the region and the Riesling variety itself.
We look forward to processing the fruit from the vineyard from vintage 2017 and beyond.
Marks & Spencer
Pikes has recently agreed to supply well known UK retailer Marks & Spencer with some Clare Valley Riesling for one of their own labels.
A resurgence of interest in both Australian wine and aromatic varietals in the UK market led to an approach by former Leasingham winemaker Belinda Kleinig, who is now one of the M&S buyers.
Made in an “off dry” style that is in tune with the UK consumers’ tastes, the initial order is for 6,000 bottles of 2016 Riesling. Who knows where it can go from here if the Poms take a liking to our Rizza with their fish & chip supper?
Pikes Bin End Sale returns!
After a bit of a hiatus, we can advise that the popular Pikes Bin End Sale will return in July.
We’re busy compiling a list of our excess-to-requirement bits & pieces, which simply clutter our warehouse. Cleanskins, damaged label stock, export labeled stock etc, etc will all be offered at clearance prices. If you’d like to receive a list once it’s complete, just email Pud Smith, our Cellar Door Manager.