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St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling 2009
In the heart of the Barossa Valley, Australia's best known wine region, lies St Hallett, one of the country's premier wine producers. Established by the Lindner Family in 1944, for many years St Hallett's winemaking focus was, like many local wineries, on producing fortified wines. However, during the seventies and eighties, St Hallett turned to explore the true potential of the Barossa through premium table wines. This has resulted in St Hallett's status as one of Australia’s best producers.
St Hallett is renowned for crafting full-flavored, textured wines entirely from Barossa Valley fruit and is credited with producing benchmark wines of the region such as the iconic St Hallett Old Block Shiraz, made from vines aged up to 100 years old.
Winemaker and General Manager, Stuart Blackwell spearheaded the commissioning of the new winemaking facilities in 1988 and the installation of some of the world's most advanced fruit processing and handling equipment. Despite this modern approach, traditional winemaking techniques prevail at St Hallett as they are best suited to the winery's classic style.
Historically and presently the most important wine-producing region of Australia, the Barossa Valley is set in South Australia, where more than half of the country’s wine is made. Because the climate is very hot and dry, vineyard managers must be careful so that grapes do not become overripe.
The intense heat is ideal for plush, bold reds, particularly Rhône blends featuring Shiraz, Grenache, and Mataro (Mourvèdre). White grapes can produce crisp, fresh wines from Riesling, Chardonnay, and Semillon if they are planted at higher altitudes.
Most of Australia’s largest wine producers are based here and Shiraz plantings date back as far as 1860. Many of them are dry farmed and bush trained, still offering less than one ton per acre of inky, purple juice.
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 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 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.