Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling 2017
In 1972, legendary Napa Valley winemaker, Robert Mondavi, first identified the future site of the Leeuwin vineyard as being ideal for the production of premium wine and provided early mentorship to owners, Denis and Tricia Horgan in the establishment of Leeuwin Estate. The first vines were planted by hand over a five year period from 1973.
Featuring state-of-the art facilities, the winery building was opened in 1978, celebrating with a trial vintage. Leeuwin enjoyed its first commercial vintage in 1979, and was thrust into the international spotlight when Decanter Magazine gave its highest recommendation to the 1980 "Art Series" Chardonnay in an international blind tasting.
Maintaining a team of highly skilled and dedicated winemakers, Leeuwin Estate is now under the direction of two generations of the founding family.
Home to some of Australia’s most elegant and long-living red and white wines, Margaret River is situated in the farthest reaches of Western Australia. Relatively warm and dry, the region is cooled by breezes from the Indian Ocean. Margaret River takes some inspiration from Bordeaux, producing top-quality Cabernet Sauvignon with firm structure, mouthwatering acidity, balanced alcohol and notes of herbs and spice. Complex, age-worthy Chardonnays are another regional specialty. Also common here are refreshing blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, as well as earthy, aromatic Bordeaux red blends.
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, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
In the Glass
Riesling typically produces wine with relatively low alcohol, high acidity, steely minerality and stone fruit, spice, citrus and floral notes. At its ripest, it leans towards juicy peach, nectarine and pineapple, while cooler climes produce Rieslings redolent of meyer lemon, lime and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of petrol.
Riesling is quite 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.