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Annie's Lane Riesling 2002
Suggested food: Enjoy as an aperitif or as the perfect accompaniment to freshly shucked oysters.
Annie' s Lane is now one of the finest wineries in Australia's renowned Clare Valley and represents the finest vineyards in one of South Australia's great regions. The Annie's Lane wines rely on regional and varietal expression and have been awarded with over 350 trophies and medals at wine shows in Australia and across the globe since the first release in 1996. The most successful of all the wines has been the super-premium Copper Trail Shiraz.
The home of Annie's Lane is the heritage listed Quelltaler winery at the heart of Watervale, in the Clare Valley's south. Quelltaler is the region's oldest and most important winery, dating back to 1863. Fruit for Annie's Lane is sourced from magnificent old Watervale vines as well as from vineyards to the north in the Polish Hill River sub-district where the cooler ripening period and extraordinary slate riddled soils combine to create an unmistakable stamp of the Clare Valley.
The Clare Valley is actually a series of narrow north to south valleys, each with different soil types and slightly different weather patterns along their stretch. In the southern heartland between Watervale and Auburn, there is mainly a crumbled, red, clay loam soil called terra-rossa and cool breezes come in from Gulf St. Vincent. A few miles north in Polish Hill is soft, red loam over clay and is influenced by westerlies blowing in from the Spencer Gulf.
The differences in soil, elevation, degree of slope and weather influences enable the region to produce some of Australia’s finest aromatic, spicy and lime-pithy Rieslings, as well as excellent Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec with ripe plummy fruit, good acid and big structure.
Clare Valley is an isolated farming country with a continental climate known for its warm and sunny days, followed by cool nights—perfect for wine grapes’ development of sugar and phenolic ripeness in conjunction with notable acidity levels.
A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining easily identifiable typicity. This versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling, and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Oregon, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes in New York.
In the Glass
Riesling is low in alcohol, with high acidity, steely minerality, and stone fruit, spice, citrus, and floral notes. At its ripest it leans towards juicy peach and nectarine, and pineapple, while in cooler climes it is more redolent of meyer lemon, lime, and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of gasoline.
Riesling is very versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, most Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese (bottlings with some residual sugar and low alcohol are the perfect companions for dishes with substantial spice), and freshly shucked oysters. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.
It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.