RIESLING AND INNOVATION IN CLARE VALLEY
The pristine Clare Valley is a serene and secluded region that’s home to a passionate bunch of innovative winemakers. It was also the birthplace of Australia’s screw cap revolution.
HOME OF RIESLING
Hidden away in the Mount Lofty Ranges in of South Australia, Clare Valley is a small wine region with a big reputation for its world-class wines. This scenic region has retained its relaxed, rural spirit and offers a retreat from city life – yet it’s home to some important innovations in Australian wine, led by a community of creative makers.
Escape to the Clare and you’ll find yourself amongst rolling green hills, gum trees, wildflowers and tranquil streams. Evidence of the region’s history and prosperity can still be seen in its historic buildings and sprawling homesteads, and there’s a growing food scene that makes the most of local produce.
This is also Australia’s home of Riesling and any cellar door tasting will feature this bright, citrusy white wine. Clare Valley Riesling is among the world’s best, famed for its purity, rich lime flavours and ability to age for decades. Riesling typically grows best in cool climates, with cool nights and a long ripening season giving the wine high acid levels and concentrated flavours. But Clare Valley’s weather is quite warm – on paper it should be too warm to make such good Riesling. So why does it work so well? That’s largely down to its altitude of up to 500 metres above sea level, afternoon breezes and cold nights.
Clare Valley also produces top-quality Chardonnay, Semillon, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as a growing line-up of alternative varieties including Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Assyrtiko. A Greek white grape variety, Assyrtiko can be similar to Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc with its vibrant citrus flavours.
THE SCREWCAP REVOLUTION
It was the winemakers of the Clare Valley, keen to retain the freshness and vitality of their Riesling, who drove Australia’s screw cap revolution. The first trials were instigated in the 1970s by Yalumba, and in 2000, 13 Clare Valley winemakers – led by Jeffrey Grosset – banded together to champion the Stelvin screw cap closure. Consumers liked the consistency and freshness of the screw cap-sealed wines, and the design set the standard that virtually all screw caps follow today. Now it’s rare to find an Australian Riesling bottled under cork.
With its long tradition of innovation, cornerstone of classic producers and a new era of boundary-pushing winemakers, Clare Valley’s reputation for quality and consistency looks set to continue.
Vintage reports provide a wrap up of the season, painting a picture of the grapes’ development through until harvest. Each season presents unique conditions which influence the resulting wine. These reports provide a good record of the weather during the season which impacts on the final yields and quality.