JOHN Vickery’s Leo Buring rieslings were the greatest in this country between the 1950s and the 1970s.
Brian Croser’s Petaluma rieslings then set the quality standard until Jeffery Grosset led Australia to a more pure, longer and more international style in the 1990s.
Is the baton about to be handed on once more?
The riesling fruit from Duke Ranson’s Magpie Hill vineyard in the Great Southern’s Porongurups is extraordinary.
Duke and Hilde’s wines are made by Castle Rock Winery’s Rob Diletti, who has an extraordinary Best Riesling Trophy record at capital city shows.
Rob also made three of 13 (13 per cent) of James Halliday’s highest- pointed Australian rieslings in the Wine Companion 2017 Edition, two of 17 (12.5 per cent) in the 2016 edition and three of 15 (20 per cent) in the 2015 edition.
It’s not only Rob’s winemaking though, it is also the outstanding and distinctive Great Southern riesling fruit.
It is unique, as it displays quite distinctive and more subtle fruit flavours and a more restrained acidity and finer structure than the Clare and Eden Valley’s long-famed rieslings.
The area’s riesling quality can be gauged by James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion summaries as, in the 2017 edition, with about three per cent of Australia’s riesling, the Great Southern provided 35 per cent of James’ 23 highest-pointed rieslings.
In 2016, this figure was also 35 per cent of the highest-ranked 17 and in 2015 this was 40 per cent of the highest-ranked 15.
In 2014, the west gained an astonishing 58 per cent, or 15 out of 26.
So, given the regional riesling quality and Rob Diletti’s winemaking ability, how good is the Duke’s Magpie Hill Riesling vineyard?
In Halliday’s view, the 2013, 14 and 15 vintages received 97 points and the 2016 received 98 points.
Halliday, Australia’s best known and most respected wine writer, uses the term “prodigious” to describe the length of the 2016 release.
Length of flavour is the key to quality and, for Australian riesling, this wine has almost unmatched length.