Sunday, May 16, 2010

Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Mt Barker Wallflower Riesling 2009

If you haven't noticed, pretty much all of the Riesling in Australia tastes exactly the same, and thats not me being uber generalist; tight harsh lemon/lime acid with acid and more acid. From Clare Valley to Geelong to the Great Southern and the Derwent Valley, Riesling has been produced in a way where it should be labeled 'Australian citrus wine'. Its a harsh call, but its all I have seen in a bottle for quite some time now.

Enter Larry Cherubino with his Ad Hoc Mt Barker Wallflower Riesling 2009. He has pretty much taken to this sterotype with a crossbow and gone whack; not that you would whack something with a crossbow of course. Yes, there still is the citrus about the wine, but it is not the dominant character, with the minerality of a German Trocken the most appealing character here.

Brimming with soft floral notes, this wine is a lot more feminant than the garden variety Riesling I was talking about at the start, with gentle white oliander prominant on the nose. There is no harsh ascerbic acid up front, instead a lovely and clean addition of river bed pebble - yes, minerals, but I like to describe it as river bed pebble! As with the nose, there is a little citrus, but it does not strip the palate like so many other Rieslings. A seriously good wine.

Drink with pickled octopus
drink till 2014
Screwcap 12.1%v/v $22 @ Blackhearts & Sparrows Brunswick


  1. Couldn't disagree more. Great Southern very different from Geelong which is very different from Clare which is very different from Eden. Then there is the subtle variance within each of those regions depending on site and winery.

    Trying to capture those differences in words is the really hard part.


  2. I think Oz rieslings are too formulaic is all Jeremy. This riesling to me represents a leap of faith in the Alsacean/German Trocken style.

  3. That's a point I consider well made Tim. I'm very happy to see a more diverse exploration of the grape than we have seen in Australia (and I agree, this wine fits in that paradigm).

    I was probably wrong to read the post in such a literal manner.


  4. Tim,

    I'm somewhere between you and JP on this one. I struggle for words and my teeth tell me to stop. . . but there does appear to have been a change with more off dry and sweeter offerings.

    The Cherubino wines are superb. Try the big brother if you can find it. I wonder if it is a Great Southern thing - the Frankland Estate wines I've tried have seen similarly beautiful.

  5. Am a big Frankland Estate fan.

    I just guess I am big fan of the flinty and full bodied Alsacean style rieslings, which are sadly lacking in Australia.

    I knew this post would cause a slight ripple, but thats what I think about the Australian riesling in general.

  6. Good feisty stuff Tim, and like Ed, I find myself occupying territory in between you and Jeremy. It's been a long, hot summer, and I reckon I enjoyed about a dozen of the bone dry 'stralian rieslings throughout, but I reckon within that genre, there are subtle differences that create the excitement - the Granite Hills in both 08 and 09 offers nice nice fruitier variations, while holding the dryness. And Frankland Ridge does it better than anyone I've tried. Thought KT and the Falcon is another sure bet for subtlety and variation.

    It's bloody hard to please everyone around you though, and i've poured our mutual favourite, the 08 Burklin Wolf Wachenheimer twice in the past week, and been left with most of it to myself. I just don't get it! How coul dyou not be anything but staggered by that wine??

  7. So true Collins, and you know what, I did just that this evening and ripped open one of my last 08 Wachenheimers and it is just an absolute joy to drink!

    I have been drinking a fair bit of German and Alsacean lately, this is probably why I am so dispondent with the local stuff,

  8. While I could drink Alsatian whites ad infinitum, for reasons of terroir Australian rieslings will never emulate those of Alsace, like our sparkling will never be Champagne, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. However I would also agree that Australian rieslings have in the past been a little formulaic, which has stopped them reaching their true potential. But I believe things are changing.

    I think that the industry went to great lengths to remove residual sugar from wines, given the negative connotations riesling has with the wider drinking public (if you've worked in a bottle shop you'll know what I mean). The focus was on the tight, mineral Clare Valley styles. Now though residual sugar and a bit more flexibility is creeping back in to we riesling is being made.

    I reckon this is being partly driven by the range of reasonably priced rieslings from Germany and France that are on the market. I also reckon its being driven by Aussie winemakers who want to make great riesling and then bring the public along with them. I remember about five years ago tasting an off dry Mt Difficulty riesling up against a range of Australia's 'best' rieslings ie Petaluma, Grosset, Mesh, Drumborg, Delatite, Pipers Brook, Hougtons etc, and it stole the show. I would be surprised if to many winemakers want to see that happen to often.

    Now you can get similar wines from WA such as Cherubino's, and Bellarmine, but also from the Eastern States. Moreover I tasted the most recent (at the time) Grosset Watervale about two months ago, and it was lush, it was still quite tight but in my opinion was definitely fuller than it has been before.

  9. All very fine points.

    I know I am asking too much when I say I want Alsacean whits made in Oz.

    Interesting you mentioned Mt Difficulty. I have of late been casting my eye over the ditch with the Ostler Blue House Riesling from the Waitaki Valley being a current favourtie - greta balance of residual sugar and acid.