March Wines of the Month: Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Wallflower Riesling 2009 & Cave de Saint Desirat Syrah 2010

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I’m looking forward to presenting Wine Australia’s Landmark Riesling tasting later this month. I’m a huge fan of Australian Rieslings – whether of the classic, bone dry variety (all vim and vigour) or the softer, sometimes sweeter styles which have emerged lately. So no surprises that my white March Wine of the Month is a Riesling, not least since I’ve shown it twice in the last month and, on each occasion, it’s been the white wine of the night. Not the normal outcome for Riesling, but then Larry Cherubino has a different take on the variety (see below). As for my red, I’m straying out of my areas of focus to recommend a steal of a Syrah.

Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Wallflower Riesling 2009 (Mount Barker, Great Southern)

When I first met Cherubino in 2008 he said, “the biggest criticism of Aussie Riesling from consumers is that it’s too austere.” His aim with Ad Hoc, his entry level Riesling, is to produce a softer, more textural profile. He certainly deviates from the uber-protective approach which defines Australia’s classic Rieslings. For example, he adds no S02 at the crusher, so the must goes quite oxidised. It’s a tip he picked up in Germany which he says promotes aromatic stability/purity. He also ferments with natural yeasts, which explains the softer profile (but more backbone too, says Cherubino). Ad Hoc Wallflower 2009 shows lime blossom and sweet apple (think apple sauce) notes on the nose which follow through on a glistening palate awash with floral, mineral and bright, sweet, ripe citrus notes. Animated by lively juicy acidity, it has lovely balance and length too. Perfumed, pretty and persistent, with a few years under its belt, this wine is really on song. 11.5% abv. £14.95 at Direct Wines or £15.45 at Wineman.

Cave de Saint Desirat Syrah 2010 (Vin De Pays De L’ardeche, Rhône)

I love mid-weight, spicy quaffing Syrahs like this. It’s made by a co-operative based in the northern Rhône appellation of St Joseph from whence the fruit is sourced. It’s really floral and peppery on nose and palate with lively but supple red fruits and an attractive herbaeceous rasp. Not one to keep – enjoy it now. 12.5% abv. A steal at £6.39 at Booths or £8.99 at Virgin Wines.

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