I will never forget the first time I tasted an aged Riesling from Clare Valley, Australia.
It happened during a tutored tasting of New World wines. I remember on arrival that the tasting room was buzzing with the chit chatter of city types – all pleased to be unlocked from their office cells to taste some delicious New World wines! It was a Friday after all. My seat was set up with 9 glasses on a small table in front of me. Each glass carefully poured with an inch and a half of wine in preparation for the tasting. I was most excited to have a large glug of wine number 1 after a long week in the office.
But it was as I picked up wine number 2, that everything changed.
I picked up the glass of pale lemon liquid in my left hand and slowly tilted the glass to look at the appearance of the wine. It was a slightly warmer shade of lemon than I had initially thought. It looked inviting.
I then gently swirled the glass to allow for some oxygen contact to unlock the aromas. It was on this swirling action that I was suddenly caught utterly dumbfounded by the beauty of the nose of this wine. I was first hit with an explosion of citrus notes punctuated by freshly diced ripe peach and apricot. Luxurious, deep honey notes emerged on a further swirl alongside a flinty, minerality intertwined with new-day spring blossom. But it was the notes from bottle maturation that hit me the most. An almost toasty, petroleum like characteristic was present in this wine – and it was this aroma that filled my mind with a mixture of confusion and inspiration – but mostly awe. From that moment, I knew I was completely hooked on this wine and my eyes filled with tears of joy. How could something seemingly so simple – a wine – make me feel so whole? With no warning signs at all, it felt like everything around me had stopped. The chit chatter of the room and the clink of glasses became muted. At this point in time, it was just me and this wine. Nothing could distract me. Nothing could take me away from the aromas of this most sublime wine.
I was relieved that the palate lived up to the aromas. Flavours of ripe stone fruit and freshly squeezed lime danced on my tongue. The toasty, petroleum notes were also present and filled my mouth with curiosity and satisfaction. Assertive acidity made itself known, but to a pleasing degree. The body was perfect – it hugged my mouth. Each element of the wine worked together in unison to bring the perfect performance to me – its drinker. And finally, the finish was long and full and left me yearning for more.
After I finished the last few sips of this holy elixir – I placed the empty glass before me. I gazed at the glass – now just a simple vessel. I realised that for a brief moment I had been transported to a place where it was just me and this wine. I felt humbled. I brushed the few dewy tears remaining in the corner of my eyes away with the tips of my fingers.
Wine in question was a 2009 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia. Tasting attended at 67 Pall Mall Club and presented by Ronan Sayburn MS.