March Wines of the Month: an Australian Riesling & Dão Touriga Nacional

I am going single varietal this month.  It’s not unusual with Australia – especially having just been at at Riesling Downunder, where I tasted a huge diversity of superlative Rieslings, recommending over 50. But Portugal is, without question, another country (metaphorically speaking).  With a few noble exceptions, I incline towards blends for which there is a long-standing tradition, great feel and skill.  However, at last month’s Portuguese Wine School at Taberna do Mercado, a Touriga Nacional had everyone clutching for superlatives. 

Here are my notes on these terrific single varietal wines:

Vickery Watervale Riesling 2017 (Clare Valley)

Industry legend John Vickery with fellow winemaker Phil Lehmann of Vickery Wines

Discussions at Riesling Downunder circled around how to bring balance to the consumer.  Of course, the answer to this question depends on the source grapes/terroir and the particular consumer in mind.  That said, if I was to single out an Australian Riesling which I’d defy anyone to find other than delicious, hypnotically so, it would be this example from Watervale, in which Australia’s godfather of Riesling has a hand.  Indeed, lends his name.  With a super-experienced hand on the tiller (making his name at Leo Buring, John Vickery has made Riesling for over 60 years), it’s a really flavoursome example, with good fruit and, for aficionados, classic Warevale aromatics.  Very perfumed with kaffir lime, lime blossom and flavoursome and succulent lime and lychee to the palate.  Lovely fruit depth and ripeness with brightness – a generous Watervale Riesling with, I’m told, a little bit of pressings for flavour (the press cut is 500-575l/ton).  Long with a salty note to the finish.  2.5g/l residual sugar.  Delicious. 13%  Hennings list the 2016 vintage (which I haven’t tasted) at £15.95.

Quinta dos Roques Touriga Nacional 2015 (Dão)

Readers will know how impressed I’ve been by Douro 2015s.  Terrific aromatics and fruit with a freshness which makes for beguiling wines, tempering their power.  Well, this Touriga Nacional shows what a great vintage it was for the Dão too.  One capable of showing Touriga Nacional – a generous, not infrequently de trop grape – to elegant advantage.  It is intensely perfumed, with inky florals and a hint of bergamot as it opens up, which notes lace the palate, finding balance with the fruit.  Dark but animated, elegant but juicy  black and red berry fruit is delicately spliced with tannins, which bring line and length.  Firming up on a poised, very persistent finish, they give this wine the structure to age for a decade, most likely two.  Whilst it will undoubtedly benefit from time in bottle, the palate retains perfume and lift – a buoyancy and fluidity of scented berry fruit, with gentle spice and incipient pine needle riffs (a cool hint of green) which enchant already (if you crack open a bottle, do decant it).  I was pretty chuffed with my selection of wines for the Dão masterclass, but this was the one on everyone’s lips in both senses of the word!  The 2015 vintage has just arrived in the UK and is imported by Portuguese specialist Raymond Reynolds.  The 2012 is £36.99 at Harrogate Fine Wine Company.


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