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Simon’s Wine of the Week - Smalltown Vineyards Rag and Bone Riesling

Good morning all, Simon’s Wine of the Week is Smalltown Vineyards Rag and Bone Riesling Riesling. I love it. And I mean I really love it. If there was a fight to the death between Riesling and Chardonnay as to which my desert island white grape variety would be then I suspect Riesling might just win it. But it is a terribly misunderstood grape so let’s clear a few things up: 1. It’s all German, isn’t it? Germany is certainly the country that is most famous for its Riesling, and it (arguably) makes the best. But go to any cool-climate wine-growing country and you’ll probably find it. France? Try one from Alsace. Australia? Check out either Eden or Clare Valley. Chile? There are some great wines from Bio Bio. 2. How do you pronounce it? There’s two ways most people say it, either ‘Rye-Sling’, or ‘Ree-Sling’? Which is correct? I can categorically say that the latter is correct. Always ‘Ree-Sling’. 3. It’s sweet, isn’t it? Well, it does make some of the world’s great sweet wines. If you’ve been lucky enough to try a German Trockenbeerenauslese or an Eiswein then you’ll know what I’m talking about. But it’s not all sweet. Some of the best Riesling I’ve tried has been bone dry with not a jot of sugar. So that’s cleared up the basics, but if you’ve never had one what is the fuss about? Why do I like it so much? Simply put, Riesling is a grape that, when made well, performs the most beautiful balancing act between fruit, sweetness, and acidity. Riesling is always highly acidic. Always. But don’t let this put you off. Because when it is in balance with the fruit and sugar it is the most sublime vinous experience of all. Am I getting all poetic on you? Today’s Wine of the Week hails from Australia’s Eden Valley, a region just North-East of Adelaide. The grapes are grown at altitude as Riesling does not like too much heat. Australian Riesling is pretty much always dry, and they’ve carved out a niche with a unique style. More of which in a moment. The Smalltown Vineyard Rag and Bone Riesling is sourced from a single vineyard high up on the Eastern side of the Eden Valley. There’s a cryptic story that the fruit actually comes from a vineyard famed for producing a particularly famous wine. As this ‘famous’ wine is very, very small production they usually discard half the fruit, which is where this wine comes in. Smalltown Vineyard swooped in and grabbed those grapes about to be discarded, and, hey presto, made their Rag and Bone Riesling. If my suspicions are correct about what the ‘famous’ wine is, then this is a bargain. It is an absolute benchmark Eden Valley Riesling, with the emphasis on that unique lime fruit purity. Yep, think Australian Riesling, think lime. At one point there was the distinct whiff of Roses Lime Cordial out of the glass. Over the top of the pure lime fruit are notes of blossom, lemon zest and a lovely wet slate complexity. The palate is dry, dry, dry, with lots of brisk acidity. There’s that purity of fruit over it all though; more lime, more lemon, a touch of peach, and again that minerality to finish it off. When matching with food then go for spicy dishes. Riesling loves a little spice, and it’s a must for any self-respecting restaurant specialising in South-East Asian cuisine. Apparently, the best pairing of all is with spiced duck leg. I’ve never had them together but I’m now planning it for this weekend. Yum! Have a great week, Simon
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