Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Clare Riesling to Enjoy

1343.  2010 Mitchell - Watervale Riesling (Clare Valley - Australia)

Unfortunately, the timing of our little Aussie Wine Adventure last year didn't give Boo and I a chance to jaunt up to the Clare Valley. If we had have been able to fit in a short visit, Mitchell definitely would have been one of our "can't miss" wineries. Mitchell isn't all that well known in the Vancouver market but I discovered it a couple of years back when the Australian Wine Appreciation Society (AWAS) had an impromptu tasting with winery owners and proprietors, Jane and Andrew Mitchell.

The Clare Valley is a narrow, 40 kilometre valley located a couple of hours above Adelaide (and beyond the Barossa Valley). It's home to over 40 wineries and is probably best known for dry, crisp Rieslings. While our tasting also featured some of Mitchell's red wines, I was lucky enough to grab one of the last bottles of Riesling that remained at Everything Wine.

Regular readers will know that I'm a bit of a Riesling fiend. That being said, the Clare Valley Rieslings that tend to make it to our markets aren't generally faves of mine. I can find the trademark acidity to be somewhat overbearing at times. While there was no missing the bracing acidity with the Mitchell wine, there was a nice touch of tree fruit on the palate in addition to the expected lime notes - this is definitely along the style lines I favour.

The Mitchells established the winery in 1975 and are consistently lauded by Aussie critics - notably, they hold a five-star rating from James Halliday (his highest). Part of the Mitchell story that I particularly enjoyed hearing was their transition to dry farming and to organic and/or biodynamic vineyard management. While discussing the idiosyncracies of biodynamics, Jane confessed that when she started life as a winery owner, she never envisioned spending a good part of her Sunday's "shovelling cowshit to make compost sprays." That statement - coming from this pleasant, well-mannered woman - caught everyone by surprise and resulted in some big laughs.

I don't know how good the wine would have been without the Mitchell's particular farming regime and Jane's regular shovel action, but I do know that Boo was a happy as a pig in sh*t with his calamari and I was just as happy with my Riesling. I think we need to do this more often.

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