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Elin’s Wine Pick: An Aussie Riesling That Ages Brilliantly

Jeffrey Grosset and Polish Hill Riesling. Credit: Courtesy of Grosset winery

Jeffrey Grosset and Polish Hill Riesling. Credit: Courtesy of Grosset winery

I’m just back from more than two weeks in Australia, where I spoke at Savour, the first wine conference put on by Wine Australia, which was held in Adelaide. I tasted dozens of stunning wines during my visit, though many of the best, sadly, are not available in the U.S. — at least not yet. This intensely limey 2012 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, with its chalky, slatey finish, is great and available here. It — and the 2013 arriving later this year or early next year — are pricey but worth it, and will age brilliantly. (A recent survey conducted by Wine Ark, an Australian storage provider, listed Grosset’s Polish Hill Riesling as the ninth most collected wine in Australia for 2013.)

Elin McCoy's Wine of the Week

2012 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling

Price: $35

Region: Clare Valley, South Australia

Grape: 100% Riesling

Alcohol: 12.7%

Serve with: Seafood curry, baked oysters

Three more Riesling picks from Elin McCoy:

» Riesling for an Obama state dinner

» Oregon Riesling with a hint of Alsace

» Poet's Leap of Washington is a tantalizing Riesling

On a tour of the hilly Clare Valley, a two-hour drive north from Adelaide, I stopped by the winery to talk and taste with owner-winemaker Jeffrey Grosset and his partner Stephanie Toole, owner of Mount Horrocks winery, whose wines I’ll write about at another time. Thanks to recent rain, the picturesque Clare, which I discovered isn’t a valley after all, was very green and magical, like an English shire, except that you see lines of gum trees and spot the occasional kangaroo. Thanks to Adelaide traffic, I was late.

The Clare has a long history as a wine region, going back to the 1840s, and is noted for its dry Rieslings. An enjoyable way to sample some of them is to bike or hike the 36-kilometer-long Riesling Trail, which passes near a dozen wineries, including Grosset, at the region’s southern end.

A top Aussie Riesling maker

One of the most celebrated Riesling makers in Australia, Grosset founded his winery in an old milk depot in 1981 and now makes three different Rieslings, including the lovely off-dry Alea bottling. The first vintage of the bone-dry Polish Hill, which comes from an organic vineyard planted on gravel, shale and blue slate at an elevation of 1,500 feet, was the 1980. The flavors are tightly wound, intense, steely and focused, with lemon-lime notes, zingy acidity and an elegant purity. Quality is surprisingly consistent from year to year. Older vintages we sipped and spit, 2005 and 2001, have developed more complexity and are filled with power and precision.

Grosset advises either drinking this wine right away or keeping it for at least six years. No worries about finding a corked wine when you finally open it, since Grosset pioneered using screw cap closures instead of corks. He was a driving force behind a group of 14 Clare Valley winemakers who collectively launched their Rieslings under screw cap in 2000.

Top photo: Owner-winemaker Jeffrey Grosset and the label of his 2012 Polish Hill Riesling. Credit: Courtesy of Grosset winery