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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
8 Jan 2016

From $11.98, NZ$20.99, 225 SA rand, £12.95, CA$22.99, AU$23, €20.90, HK$179, 209 Norwegian krone, 3,240 yen 

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As I outline in today's tasting article Pewsey Vale Rieslings young and old, this historic single-vineyard wine is one of South Australia's most admired wine treasures. By coincidence, the bottles from my vertical tasting back to 2002 were on my tasting table when Steve Pannell, Australian Winemaker of the Year, visited me last September to show me his current range. He clearly viewed them as a national treasure, shaking his head in wonder over a few of the vintages.

The great thing about them is their durability. Riesling of course in general has extraordinary staying power and the ability to continue to improve in bottle for years, and Eden Valley, high above the Barossa Valley floor, benefits from some cooler-climate influences. Eden and Clare Valleys are the natural home of South Australian Riesling, a dry, nervy, long-lived wine at its best, as you can see from these tasting notes on 94 Rieslings from around the world shown at the International Riesling Tasting held in Sydney in 2012. The team at Yalumba replanted the vineyard shown here in the early 1960s and have been responsible for making the wine ever since, so it is hardly surprising that the wine is of such consistently high quality.

Yalumba have a policy of releasing a young dry wine and then of releasing a special bottling from The Contours, the coolest part of the vineyard, at five years old – with the result that you can find a wide range of mature and maturing vintages of Pewsey Vale dry Riesling on the market at any one time.

The wine I am particularly recommending today is the most widely available current release of the young dry wine. The 2014 crop was shrunk by an uneven flowering in windy weather and then an unusual late spring frost. Slow late-season ripening left the grapes with what winemaker Louisa Rose describes as 'the best natural acids we have seen at Pewsey Vale'. Certainly this bone-dry, 12.5% alcohol wine is outstandingly taut and concentrated with exceptionally high extract (the non-volatile solids in a wine). As I wrote in my tasting note, 'Very proud and substantial. You feel as though there would be a lot left in the Petri dish ... Smouldering finish.' I suggested you could probably drink this wine any time over the next nine years – not bad for a wine at this price level.

As you can see from the prices at the top of this article, this wine is practically given away in many parts of the world, particularly in the US, where it is widely available. But there are many stockists in the UK as well as in New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan and, the world's most enthusiastic importer of Riesling, Norway. What's interesting, courtesy of wine-searcher.com, is to see the variation in pricing. This is a wine that is notably more expensive in its home country than in most foreign markets.

This would make a great aperitif, but is also substantial and dry enough to serve with food. I could imagine it going particularly well with high-acid dishes such as main-course salads.

Further good news: here as in Europe the 2015 vintage was particularly good, and more generous than 2014. The 2015 Pewsey Vale Riesling, next one along and already available in Australia, is also looking extremely exciting.

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