Wine show stars: Ottelia Mount Gambier Riesling 2017 + Fodder
Arresting impression, abiding memory. My mind (as if still tickled by my taste buds) keeps returning to this White Wine of Show and the restaurant – Fodder, which hosted the Limestone Coast Wine Show judges’ welcome dinner. So good, five of us squeezed in a fine lunch on the day I flew back to London! And guess which wine we had? There can’t be much of it about, but then Fodder’s and Ottelia’s owners are one and the same – John and Melissa Innes.
John left Rymill after 20 years to establish Ottelia in 2001 (which is named after Ottelia Ovalifolia, the native waterlily which appears on the labels). Melissa, meanwhile, established the restaurant which is located opposite Wynns’ winery. My waistline would be in serious trouble if I worked there, but should you visit the cellar door, be sure to reserve a table.
As if the wood-fired pizza oven isn’t hot enough, chef Paul Stone’s menu is smoking hot, as one might expect of a graduate of Melbourne’s Supernormal. And how better to make a pescatarian feel at home than produce the best series of vegetarian dishes I’ve ever tucked into for the welcome dinner.
Everyone – right down to the committed carnivore – raved about this highly contemporary Italian fare. Stone has the lightest and freshest of touches, but the dishes have no little intensity. Which leads me neatly onto the wine….
Ottelia Mount Gambier Riesling 2017 (Mount Gambier, Limestone Coast)
This wine put me in mind of my first taste of Ken Helm’s Canberra District Rieslings – how could I possibly have not encountered this vinous snap, crackle of electricity and pop wine before? Wow, it’s intense, from the lime blossom tip to super-long tail. Terrific energy, line and length, with crisp’n crunchy green apple, fresh lime, lifted lime flower, spicier kaffir lime hints and a saline and flint minerality to its relentless, lip-smacking finish. Clean (and penetrating) as the proverbial whistle. 11%
Interestingly, I had encountered fruit from this wine’s source before – not just the sub-region, but the very vineyard and well remember the singularity/minerality of the wines. Ottelia Mount Gambier Riesling comes from the Ellis family vineyards in Mount Gambier’s Kongorong area on ‘Kongorong Flints’ so distinctive that they warrant their own video (you’ll find it at the bottom of the linked page).
In fact, I even visited the vineyard in 2013, examining a soil pit with Tom and Louise Ellis (pictured), who produce the Coola Road label. As you can see, it showcases the Kongorong’s flint over fractured limestone. My 2013 visit is reported here.
When I talked about the vineyard with Innes (pictured with Matilda, his daughter), he reminded me about the low lying, flat Kongorong’s challenging climate. Close to the Southern Ocean, wind turbines and frost fans attest to its extremes. It is, he said, the coolest maritime climate of mainland Australia, which means he cannot make the wine every year. But when he does, as the 2017 so amply demonstrates, the long, cool growing season promotes terrific flavour intensity without compromising acidity one jot.