You need to try these wines by a Riesling superstar

John Vickery is widely and justifiably recognised as one of the finest winemakers Australia has ever produced, often called the ‘Father of Riesling’. And if you won’t take my word for it, the man has won more than fifty trophies and 400 gold medals on the highly competitive Australian show circuit. John’s first vintage was back in 1951 and he has even been awarded the Order of Australia for his services to wine (and Riesling).

John, who has also made some pretty special reds in Coonawarra and other places, is the man responsible for the legendary old Rieslings under the Leo Buring label. These days, it is extremely rare to find one but a certain generation not only grew up on these wines but revered them. A couple of the most exciting tastings I have ever done were verticals of these Rieslings. Brilliant stuff. 

Sadly, these days, almost all remaining wines – we are talking 60s, 70s, 80’s – have been let down by substandard seals. Dud corks mean that these glories are now effectively the way of the dodo. Such a shame because if the world had any idea what true gems John was producing back then, and what glorious swans they have become, it would change international perceptions on Australian whites. 

Current winemaker for John is Keeda Zilm, who previously worked at O’Leary Walker in the Clare, another Riesling superstar. 

These wines are fantastic Rieslings and brilliant value. They all deserve a place in every cellar. 

The Rieslings 

Eden Valley 2019 EVR 703 M2 Still very young. Notes of lemon, chalk, mineral and talcum powder. Some grapefruit notes on the palate. Finesse here. This is very fine, linear, quite piercing acidity. There is excellent length here but it really does need time. Lots of time. This has a great future and a case in the cellar would not only be very wise and bring great reward in a decade or more, but would make this look like a bargain on the scale of a few beads for Manhattan (or the swampy island or whatever it was). 91. 

A$23. 12%. Tasted 14/2/20

Eden Valley ‘The Reserve’ 2017 ‘Zander Kosi Block’ EVR 704 Z Two years is not long in Riesling years, but this wine shows the early hints of development. It is a fraction more rounded than the ’19. Citrus, steel and bathroom salts. Finely balanced with razor acidity. Serious length here but the wine maintains intensity right along that length. A really good Riesling and one which has much more to give. Has years ahead of it (both in Riesling and human terms). 95. 

A$32. 11.5%. Tasted 14/2/20.

Watervale 2019 WVR 262 CIC  This moves into more floral territory. Citrus notes, notably limes, minerals and crunchy acidity. Has really impressive length and focus. It is fractionally more approachable than the Eden Valley Riesling at this stage – both are delightfully fresh. No reason that this wine won’t comfortably see twenty years. Great value. 92. 

A$23. 12.5%. Tasted 14/2/20.

Watervale ‘The Reserve’ 2017 ‘Koerner G6 Block’ WVR 603 K Spices and lemony notes here. Some limes. A hint of a chalky background and a slight oystershell note. Still so youthful but offers terrific intensity. It does feel that this is trying to exhibit some of those traditional developed honey notes but has not quite got there yet. Slightly rounded, has fine balance and a promising future. The acidity is pinpoint. Cracking stuff. 94. 

A$32. 12.5%. Tasted 14/2/20.

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