An important vintage

David Ridge reviews two SA Rieslings from a cracker 2012 vintage, which are juxtaposed with some serious Sangioveses, including a look at the best one yet from SA and a Tuscan for comparison.

Food is matched by Il Mercato.

2012 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling Clare Valley, SA RRP: $50 grosset.com.au I only know Jeffrey Grosset just well enough to know when he’s maintaining that contained excitement. He knows he doesn’t have to hype his 2012 Rieslings, and especially this one; everyone else will do it for him. The master Riesling maker has merely conceded that this might be one of his best three wines. It is a Polish Hill classic, showing the Clare sub region’s slate underlay keeping everything in tight shape and disciplined, while the citrus fruits and white flowers glow in a an icy cold and mineral-framed light. The length and precision are laser-like. There’s a beautiful bit of grip kicking in towards the end. Such prose, such hype? No qualms about being a bit silly in this wine’s praise. You should conspire to try this, soon or in another 10 to 20 years. Hardly expensive for a wine of world class. Mauri Taleggio D.O.P. Producer: Mauri Milk Type: Cow RRP: $63.90/Kg Origin:  Lombardy, Italy international.mauri.it Mauri Taleggio D.O.P. is a soft Italian gourmet cheese that is considered a delicacy when served in dishes. The Taleggio has very old origins, dating back before the 10th century.  The rind of the cheese is thin, and of soft consistency; its colour is natural rose-orange, with a distinguishing light sage colour mould. This cheese is sweet to taste with a light acid streak, slightly aromatic with a truffle aftertaste. Taleggio is best enjoyed at room temperature to truly appreciate its taste and aroma. 2012 Crabtree Watervale Riesling Clare Valley, SA RRP: $26 crabtreewines.com.au  The 2012 vintage is likely to be an important one for SA Riesling (take ’important’ to mean a step up from mere great or exciting or excellent). This gorgeous wine is an indicator of a vintage right up with the best ever, and this and plenty of its peers are likely to be snapped up pretty soon. Here we have a Riesling bursting with characters, which are almost equally forthright in flavours as aromas. Both are radiant and ultra fresh with Watervale’s signature citrus, concentrated notes and flavours of sweet lemon flower and zest. This is like that best bottle of Pinot; almost impossible to stop once you’ve started on it. There’s an artist at work here who’s captured everything on offer and seen no need to add anything much – maybe just cleverly ensuring that little bit of drying grip to tone down such full-throttle Riesling fruit. Brilliant. Wonderful. Now, this has a long future ahead, no doubt. Onetik Chebris Producer: Onetik Milk Type: Sheep and goat RRP: $64.90/Kg Origin: Pyrenees, France onetik.com/en/onetik-cheeses This cheese is made with a blend of goat and ewe’s milk; aged for three months, it is creamy and smooth. The rind is thick and yellow-grey; the pate is ivory-coloured and has a smooth, slightly oily texture. The flavour is sweet, creamy and refined with hints of olive, hazelnut and fig, finishing with a cleansing acidity from the goat’s milk. 2008 Tenuta della Seta Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Tuscany, Italy RRP: $45.00 lacantinawines.com.au The little hilltop town of Montepulciano south east of Siena in lower Tuscany (and not to be confused with the Montepulciano grape of further east on the Adriatic coast) is one of the first recognised premier reds of Italy. Yet it remains a discovery for many who might be much more familiar with the famous Brunello of Montalcino and Chianti. It is a blend and like Chianti, based on Sangiovese, but seems to have more length and elegance than these and possibly a more Coonawarra-like shape and length than the savoury and often shorter flavoured Chianti. This is a very good example of what many think one of Italy’s great bargains and does it in a very trad style, eschewing both new oak and the ‘introduced’ varieties like Merlot and Cabernet. There are mostly darker and earthy characters, of spice, prune and porcini, and flavours are persistent, but lean, lively and savoury. As complex and ‘important’ as Sangiovese can be, it’s also a wonderfully versatile and ready food companion. Provolone Classic Piccante Producer: Auricchio Milk Type: Cow RRP: $24.95/Kg (spring special: $19.95) Origin: Lombardy, Italy auricchio.com Auricchio Provolone Piccante is one of Italy’s most famous cheeses. Full cream milk is used to create this cheese with added rennet from a kid/lamb to produce the strong, flavoursome cheese. The final product is an extra sharp tasty cheese that will delight the most knowledgeable of palettes. This cheese is ideal as an aperitif, grated over pasta, shaved on carpaccio, and as a fresh cheese in many tasty recipes. 2009 Coriole Sangiovese Reserve ‘Vita’ McLaren Vale, SA RRP: $50 coriole.com Although it’s not from a particularly extensive Hall of Fame of best-ever SA Sangiovese wines, this is certainly the star so far. The most experienced and dedicated practitioner of Tuscany’s justly famous grape, Coriole’s Mark Lloyd has been plugging away for over two decades to get a red which captures the essence of the great Sangiovese wines of Tuscany’s famous Chianti, (Vino Nobile di) Montepulciano or (Brunello di) Montalcino zones. This is a wine of size and concentration, and showing aromas and flavours of dark cherry, prune and coffee grounds, all desirable Sangiovese traits. It’s well shaped, framed by seemingly older rather than intrusive and perfumed new oak, and is seen right out with a correct, tingling and drying savoury finish. This is a confident and poised local version of an Italian classic, and well worth a place on our tables. Taggiasche Olives Producer: Guiseppe Calvi & C. RRP: $8.90 Origin: Liguria, Italy oliocalvi.com The Calvi Taggiasche olives without stone are preserved in Calvi Extra Virgin Olive Oil. They are a petite quality olive with an extraordinary taste, which is delicate and still rich in flavour. The skin of the olive is soft and makes them very tender. These olives are tasty enjoyed as an appetiser and for cooking use.;

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