Many people enjoy the grapefruity crispness of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. I do too. But increasing popularity has brought to market seemingly countless New Zealand SauvBlancs with similar but nicely consistent character. This is not a bad thing at all, but for sake of variety, many people have started to seek alternatives to the popular NZ SB. When asked for a NZ SB alternative I immediately respond with the question: Have you tried an Australian Dry Riesling? Many people have not, but I hope that will change. Whereas the SB typically provides a mouthful of grapefruit and other strong citrus flavors, the typical Aussie Dry Riesling starts even more austere, with flavors that lean toward lime and flint/minerals – all in a tight and sometimes gripping package – a great warm weather aperitif. Even more interestingly, Riesling is known to be an aromatic grape that often excels at showing the ‘terrior’ characteristics of the place it is grown, which makes trying multiple Rieslings from multiple regions great fun for all.
A currently available example of this Aussie Dry Riesling genre is the Longview Iron Knob Riesling 2009 ($15), from the South Australian region of Adelaide Hills, just a few miles east of the beautiful city of Adelaide. The Iron Knob winemaker notes that the hillside vineyard soils are comprised of ‘unforgiving’ ironstone soils that provide great character to the wine. At first whiff the aromas are engaging, with lime/citrus and hints of what is commonly described as ‘petrol’ (but not in a bad way). Flavors are immediately mouth filling and juicy with lots of lime and undercurrent orange notes, taking over your palate and keeping a grip on it through a mineral tinged dry finish. Those who believe a Riesling is a sweet wine will be shocked at the dryness of this one… But anyone who likes a New Zealand Sauv Blanc will surely find this Riesling quite pleasing and a great alternative to the Sauv Blanc – the Iron Knob Riesling draws you back for sip after sip to enjoy another taste of the fruits and structure at finish. Give it a try, you will enjoy it!