LOWER ALCOHOL RIESLING A REFRESHING CHANGE OF PACE
It is a well-known industry deception that the alcohol content of a wine as described on the bottle is largely understated. The Food Standards Code in Australia allows a level of tolerance, which generally means that wines are labelled as being lower in alcohol than they are.
A recent study by the University of California found that alcohol content in most wines sold around the globe is, on average, about 0.42 per cent higher than what is stated on the label of the bottle.
In Australia, winemakers are generally under commercial pressure to make wines that are higher in alcohol to please the palate but lower in alcohol to satisfy the dieticians and medical advisers.
The consumer typically tends to prefer a higher level of residual sweetness in white wines as it makes them more approachable in their youth.
In red wines, sweeter fruit and higher alcohol sells well because it generally leads to a fuller and more rounded mouth feel, which is attractive to most wine consumers.
After all, the wine industry is a competitive one – particularly for the boutique and smaller producers.
So with the bias towards higher sugar and alcohol wines, it was particularly refreshing to rediscover a stunning example of a Tasmanian riesling that has a luscious and well-rounded mouth feel yet is labelled at only 11 per cent alcohol by volume.
It’s a wine that I must have liked when I found it a few years ago and bought an extra case to tuck away in a back corner of the cellar – not that I can really remember.
During a recent reorganisation, I rediscovered it, quickly wiped off the dust and decided it was time to open a bottle of the Pressing Matters 2012 R9 Riesling.
Pressing Matters has been rated as a five-star winery by James Halliday and is located at Tea Tree in the Coal River Valley, an area that was first settled by the British after construction of a bridge across the Coal River in 1823 and is now largely an agricultural and viticultural community.
The 2012 vintage is obviously a wine that has had a few years to develop in the bottle but was incredibly successful when first released.
The R9 Pressing Matters not only won a trophy for best riesling in the Six Nations Wine Challenge shortly after its release but it even won Best White Wine of Show.
I would probably describe it as a mosel style that still has tropical fruit characters of guava, lime and grapefruit on the nose and in its middle age, mellowed characters of pear and apple across the palate.
When I reviewed this wine five years ago, it was much lighter in the glass and still had a greenish tinge to the fruit characters thanks to its natural acidity but now those same flavours are evident yet more subdued, rounded and honeyed after half a decade or so in a dark corner of the cellar.
What’s surprising is there is such a depth and lusciousness to the mouth feel as this tempting riesling fondles and nuzzles each taste bud as it strokes its way across the back palate.
It’s a dry style of riesling but, despite having only 9g of residual sugar, is still hedonistic and opulent yet sports only 11 per cent alcohol by volume.
That contrasts remarkably with other consumer-centric wines such as
Marlborough sauvignon blanc, which typically boasts 13 per cent or 13.5 per cent alcohol content and has about 12g of residual sugar, making it much sweeter but, in my view, often sickly and flabby.
The Pressing Matters R9 is one of the best rieslings I’ve tried in the last year and will be a perfect lunch-time tipple with seafood or an avocado salad.
The winery is conveniently located half an hour outside of the city so it will be one cellar door that is preloaded into my GPS next time I visit the Tasmanian capital.
Pressing Matters Riesling R9.