Rolf Binder Eden Valley Highness Riesling 2012
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Rolf Heinrich Binder and his wife, Franziska, arrived in Australia (from Austria and Hungary respectively) in 1950 as part of the large influx of post war immigration. As payment for the government assistance, they worked for the South Australian Railway for three years. During that time they met Elmore Schulz, a train driver and grape grower in the Barossa Valley, and namesake to Barossa Valley Estate’s E&E Shiraz. While picking grapes for Schulz in 1953, the couple met Langmeil Road winemakers, Chris Vohrer and Wilhelm Abel, a meeting that proved to set their future in the wine business. In 1954 they worked a vintage in this winery and subsequently purchased the business in 1955, renaming it ‘Veritas’, taken from the Latin quote “In Vino Veritas” – in wine, truth. The winery name was changed from Veritas to Rolf Binder in 2005 to honor Rolf Heinrich Binder who passed away in 2003. Since then, the business has grown substantially throughout Australia, with wines also now exported to 19 countries.
Higher in elevation and topographically more dramatic than the Barossa Valley floor, Eden Valley abuts it to its south and east. While it is a bit of an extension of Barossa, Eden Valley is topographically different than the pastoral Barossa Valley, and is composed of rocky hills and eucalyptus groves.
Recognizing Eden Valley’s potential with Riesling in the 1960s and 70s, producers started to move their Riesling production from Barossa to these better sites where schist soils on hilltops would produce more steely, tart and age-worthy examples. A most famous site, planted by Colin Gramp, called Steingarten, today produces one of the most outstanding Australian Rieslings. Youthful Eden Valley Rieslings express floral, grapefruit and mineral, while with time in the bottle, they become increasingly toasty and complex.
Riesling isn’t the only grape the region can grow; undeniably at lower altitudes Shiraz does very well. Mount Edelstone is a notable vineyard as well as the Hill of Grace, which boasts healthy Shiraz vines well over 100 years old. This is the only Australian region where Merlot has a made a name for itself and Chardonnay can be spectacular, particularly from the High Eden subregion in the southern valley.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, 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. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.