Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Surprise Rockford Riesling

Rockford is one of those names from the Barossa that I'm coming to recognize as a top, boutique player but still know very little about. Boo and I made it as far as the winery driveway last April when we were travellin' in that world Down Under but the Rockford folk weren't going to open for another 90 minutes and, unfortunately, we couldn't stick around long enough to pay our respects.

Up until now, most everything I'd heard about Rockford related to their reds - reds that are known for big flavours and limited availability. Owner, Robert O'Callaghan, is known for emphasizing the use of fruit from older, low-yielding, dry farmed vineyards and his best known wine - the highly sought Basket Press Shiraz - has garnered a cult following that rivals Henschke's Hill of Grace.

So, I was quite shocked when I saw a Tweet singing the praises of a Rockford Riesling - particularly since it was a Tweet from a local Vancouverite. A couple of Tweets and quick calls later and I'd secured two of the last bottles from a cache that wasn't even supposed to exist.

1259. 2003 Rockford Riesling (Eden Valley - Australia)

I didn't know that Rockford made a Riesling. So, being the fiend for Riesling that I am, it was a no-brainer of a buy for me.

Part of Rockford's allure is that the winery is steeped in tradition. In some ways, it's more like a museum than a winery. An oft told story recounts how O'Callaghan kickstarted his winery by collecting vintage equipment pieces (still found at the winery) as they were being cast off by more established wineries when modernizing. The equipment still worked and O'Callaghan's method of procurement was as economical as it could get for a new boutique winery.

With all this background, I was eager to pull the cork and give the wine a try. The wine, unfortunately, didn't quite meet expectations. At least not for my palate. I found the wine to be very austere but in a subdued way. It didn't boast overwhelming notes of citrus or minerality that I can find characteristic of Eden Valley Rieslings and, as such, it was just a bit lacking.

My lack of enthusiasm for the wine won't dampen my jones for Rockford but I'm going to want another go at their Rieslings before I'm going to run for them as quickly as I would for their reds.

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