Which wine pairs with 98 degrees? Australian riesling edition

Yikes, it was a scorcher this past weekend and temperatures remained in the “excessive heat warning” levels for four days. So the most pressing question for wine lovers was: which wine pairs with 98 degrees? For us, the answer was dry Aussie riesling.

These young wines were wildly refreshing. Consider the Rocky Gully 2007 (find this wine) from a remote part of the already remote Western Australia. It has an alluring riesling nose of cut grass and lime zest with surprising depth and fantastic refreshment. A great value, the previous vintage is still available for $12; some of these wines may not yet be in stores since I tasted them as samples. Frankland Estate (find this wine) from the wonderfully remote sounding Isolation Ridge part of Western Australia offers some more minerality and complexity.

From the Clare Valley in South Australia, we tried two wines from Jeffrey Grosset, hailed by Decanter as one of the top ten white winemakers in the world. Given that buildup, I was slightly underwhelmed by the Watervale 2006 (find this wine), which was still fresh and fun but surprisingly simple. The Polish Hill 2007 (find this wine), however, was in a different league. The nose has lots of stony, zesty appeal and the palate has bright a acidity, rocky minerality and squeaky cleanness leading to a lasting and pleasing finish. At 13.5 percent alcohol, it was the highest abv of the wines we tasted.

Clearly this 2007 is a mere baby and given my recent mature wine mania, I’d love to taste more examples with age. Given the phenomenal worldwide demand for Grosset’s wines, and the strength of the Aussie dollar, the $30 for the 2006 (find this wine) is anachronistic since the 2007 has a list price of $46. As enjoyable as the wine is, I’d have a hard time opting for this youthful riesling for drinking today instead of the 2000 Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile, which has eight years under it’s belt and still can be found for the anti-inflationary price of $35 (find this wine). Quite different wines, obviously, but why not have somebody else reputable age the wine for me?

Finally, we tried the Mount Horrocks 2006, also from the Clare Valley and made by Grosset’s partner, Stephanie Toole (find this wine). Reticent aromas and flavors were the theme on day one but by day three, the wine showed surprisingly more depth.

In all, these Australian rieslings were a great way to beat the heat. Which wines do you use to wash down a heat wave?

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17 Responses to “Which wine pairs with 98 degrees? Australian riesling edition”

  1. Another excellent Clare Valley Riesling is the Petaluma. It approaches the Polish Hill in quality but sells for less than $20

  2. It was brutal here in Philadelphia as well. Just awful.

    I spent the day watching my kids “Slip & Slide” in the backyard. All while enjoying a 2005 Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling Reserve. It was really great – a clear demonstration that the Finger Lakes in NY can produce excellent wine.

  3. Another go-to riesling from Western Australia’s Margaret River is the Leeuwin Estate “Art Series” bottling. The 2002 at @ $19 shows all of the citrus flower and lime sap that make the dry rieslings of Australia uniquely well suited to cooling one down when the heat wave wails in. With a few years on them they deliver not just freshness, but also the beginnings of minerality and ‘petrol’ that you’d expect from top quality riesling.

  4. I was surprised to not see Pewsey Vale mentioned here. Over 150 years old and pioneers of fine Riesling in Australia. Also one of the earliest supporters of Stelvin-style closures of any winery in the world.

  5. gosh, you ARE my favorite doctor! reading your wineblog is such a treat. I remember the leeuwin estate riesling made me take Aussie Riesling seriously. haven’t tasted any for almost ten years, though. living in switzerland I’d much rather drink riesling from germany, alsace, austria, and – yes – thanks to global warming – from switzerland, as well….. my favorites remaining the low alcohol german rieslings.
    greetings, c

  6. Thanks for these suggestions! I’ll keep an eye out for the Petaluma and Pewsey Vale, which I haven’t tried. I have enjoyed the Leeuwin Art Series riesling before too–thanks Philippe. And, yes, I do drink much more German riesling than Australia since the off-dry ones pair well with spicy foods. But just thought I would give these a whirl on a hot summer weekend and am very glad I did.


  7. Yeah, dry Australian Rieslings are totally under-appreciated, so any attention you bring to them is great! Riesling is also something of a keystone varietal in the history of Australian winemaking.

    A few months ago I had the pleasure of tasting one of the high end Pewsey Vale Rieslings from the mid-1970s. Not only was it in an earlier form of a Stelvin Closure (called a Stelcap) but the nose was very reminiscent of older Mosel Kabinetts. It reminded me of walking into my grandfather’s tool shed!

  8. […] “Which wine pairs with 98 degrees? Australian riesling edition” “Kickin assyrtiko in Santorini“ Permalink | SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “Six […]

  9. Aussie Rieslings are a tougher sell than others… “Why go there when you can go German or Alsatian?”, is the mantra. I keep an open mind, have had a few good tasting experiences lately, but still think I’d end up in the Mosel first – particularly with $30+ bones on the line!

    Pulled out the 2006 Hoffer Gruner post beach on Sunday after popping the cork the night before. Gotta say, it was even more fabulous on day two with the fruit showing better and some of its edgy minerality easing up. Great value – a 1L retailing for $9.99!

  10. My favorite Australian Riesling is the Crawford River from the little-known, south-western Victorian region of Henty.

    They tend to have a little more depth and savory characters than many of the Clare and Eden examples, which can be quite austere upon release.

    When it comes to Clare and Eden Riesling always follow the two and eight rule: Drink in the first two years or drink after eight years.

  11. Not the biggest fan of Rosé but I remember gulpin down some fine Rosé wine that wknd. But to be honest and my public apology to all the wine lovers out there, I must have cheated with some good ol’ fashioned cold beer. Hope I have been saved from the wrath of the Bacchus curse with this admission!!!

  12. I second Philippe’s suggestion-Leewine Estate wines are awesome. It’s also an incredibly beautiful property in the paradise that is Margaret River.

    Try Charles Melton Rose of Virginia (Barossa)-a beauty of a wine! Not easy to find but well worth the search.

    I turn to Gruner Veltliner when it’s hot and sticky…

    Cheers to the suggestion of a beer!

  13. Correction, that’s Leeuwin, not Leewine. 🙂

  14. Australia rieslings are the pinnacle of dry whites for me (Australian that is). When fresh they can be delicately floral from the cooler regions such as the Adelaide Hills or tasmania, or refreshingly citrusy and steely from the warmer regions like clare. With a bit of time they can also start to develop some kero-like nuances and that bracing acidity for me equals ageability. I agree these truly are beautiful on a warm summers day!!

  15. Thomas writes about the 2 and 8 rule for Clare and Eden Valley Aussie Rieslings. Now that these Rieslings are all in screw caps, I no longer think this applies.
    In screwcap, these wines age much more consistently and are great drinking at any age. Also as aged wines, they still retain the beautiful fruit characters, rather than be overwhelmed by corkiness.

  16. […] to try it. The wine has more minerality and verve. I’d find this one most refreshing on a hot summer day with the Dragonstone one for the spring and the fall, when I prefer more […]

  17. […] almost always released within a year of harvest so the tendency is to drink it young when it can be very refreshing. Riesling from Australia tends to be dry and is almost always bottled under screwcap […]


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