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Clare Valley

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Clare valley

Vines were first planted in the Clare Valley by John Horrocks in 1840 and expanded until around 1903. A resurgence of interest in the 1980s saw a similar expansion of wineries and large investments. Located north west of the Barossa Valley at a slightly higher altitude, the Clare Valley’s typography consists of a series of broken valleys, hills and gullies. The best sites are orientated west, at higher altitude, and the soils have significant limestone components. The most important sub districts of the southern Clare Valley are the two distinct sub-regions of Water Vale and Polish Hill River. The areas of Leasingham, Watervale and Auburn with soils of predominantly rich red clay and loam over limestone. Polish Hill River on the other hand is slightly cooler, thus ripening up to five weeks later.

While the majority of vines planted are red with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz leading the way, paradoxically, Clare is perhaps best known for Riesling; the most planted white variety. Clare Shiraz is full bodied, dense and powerful, with notes of ripe fruits and characteristically powerful tannins, outstanding producers are Wendouree, Gaelic Cemetery and the Jim Barry Armagh. Clare Cabernet is similarly powerful, with firm but ripe tannins. Outstanding producers are Knappstein, Leasingham, Taylors and Wendouree. 

Riesling is the most internationally recognised variety of the Clare Valley and is dry, with distinct floral and citrus (lemon and lime zest) characters and good acidity which develop into complex toasty characters with extended bottle age. The two districts of Polish Hill River and Watervale differ in their expressions of Riesling, with Watervale Riesling slightly softer and more floral than the intense, concentrated Polish Hill River wines. The Clare Valley is the heart of Australian Riesling production and the wines are unique among the Rieslings of the world and extraordinarily long lived and incredible value. Outstanding producers include Grosset, Mount Horrocks, O’Leary Walker and Pikes, though this is by no means and exhaustive list. Clare Riesling producers were at the forefront of the screwcap revolution when a number of them decided to bottle their 1999 Rieslings under screwcap.

Sources:
James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia, James Halliday
The Oxford Companion to Wine, (ed) Jancis Robinson


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  1. Clos Clare Riesling 2019 375ml
    Clos Clare Riesling 2019 375ml

    Owned arnd run by the Barry family (Jim Barrty Wines) the clos Clare patch is located within the famous Florita vineyard in Watervale and is getting on for 50 years of age. The clos Clare Riesling is often among the very best in the region amd access to their absolutely stonking older releases, which they hold back in cellar, is proof of that pedigree. PWS

    This is archetypal. Quintessential. Classic. A taut thread of lime juice, grapefruit and candied lemon zest woven by a spindle of pumice, slate and bright acidity. Transparent. A flowing stream of flavour. Inimitably Clare. This will fill out with bottle age. NED GOODWIN, James Halliday

    2019
    Riesling
    Australia
    377
  2. Vine Mind Shiraz Malbec 2017
    Vine Mind Shiraz Malbec 2017
    Vine Mind is the dynamic duo of Jen Gardner and Col McBryde designed to be a departure from the stoicism of Clare (although we may be responsible for some of that too). This is about setting a challenge and in our minds, winning!

    This is a blend of fantastic old vine material and in particular exceptionally tasty malbec out of the Clare. From 20-100 year old vines in the Springfarm sub-region on red sand over clay with limestone and slate through the sub-surface at 450m above sea level. Hand picked fruit, destemmed, lightly crushed, 60% whole berry fermentation with maceration between 10-30 days in concrete vessels. Aged in neutral French Oak Barriques for 12 months. 14% alc.

    "Blueberries, a lash of leather and orange jaffa cake… Well that's as a start, mint and satsuma plums are in there too. That all kind of rolls through on the palate, rasberry seeds, bay and citrus like acidity shape out the palate with a typical after dinner mint regional kind of thing on the finish." Col McBryde
    2015
    Malbec, shiraz
    Australia
    377
  3. Rieslingfreak No. 3 Clare Dry Riesling 2021
    Rieslingfreak No. 3 Clare Dry Riesling 2021

    Fruit from the family vineyard in White Hutt, Clare Valley. The vines are planted into heavy red clay soils. Saffron and turmeric lace the aromatics, straying into the pink peppercorn and aniseed space. On the palate the wine is rich and intense, a very different shape to its peers, and all the better for it – its identity is clear and pronounced. Salted lemon, lime, crunchy green apple and white peach, too. Super-pleasurable and multi-dimensional. Astounding price. ERIN LARKIN, James Halliday

    2021
    Riesling
    Australia
    377
  4. Jim Barry Lodge Hill Shiraz 2018
    Jim Barry Lodge Hill Shiraz 2018
    A very impressive wine at this price: the colour deep and bright, the expressive bouquet with earthy/spicy nuances to black fruits. The medium-bodied palate has an extra level of depth aided by supple tannins and a twitch of oak. The value cannot be gainsaid. (96) JAMES HALLIDAY

    Medium-bodied, and kind of crisp, but with ample flavour and a nice bit of tannin built in. Flavours are more into red fruits, with a flicker of mint and pepper, subtle spicy oak, and a fresh finish of good length. Stylish. A very good release of this wine. GARY WALSH
    2018
    shiraz
    Australia
    377
  5. Unico Zelo Jade & Jasper Fiano 2021
    Unico Zelo Jade & Jasper Fiano 2021
    Brendan and Laura are both winemakers and their Unico Zelo label is a stalwart in the stores here. With a particular focus on Italian varietals they have been showcasing what a little care, alot of love and a good dash of fun can do with wines from the Riverland region. Great labels, cracking wines and good people. How can you can go wrong!?

    Elegant whiffs of jasmine and white peach blossoms, racy and crackling acidity with distinct Fiano texture. This has plenty of pithy zip and a little grip on the palate along with a lovely fresh snap that is often missing from fiano. Nice, crunchy fruits drive through the mouth to a bursting finish that leaves you wanting more. Delicious stuff!
    2021
    Fiano
    Australia
    377
  6. Clos Clare Riesling 2014
    Clos Clare Riesling 2014

    Despite our worst fears of Christmas lock-in, I'll be heading bush with a boot full of presents and a case of the brilliant Clos Clare 2014 Riesling. Between myself and the extended family, we will make short work of it. Hand-harvested from dry-grown 50yo vines on the iconic Florita Vineyard at Watervale, this regal lady is aging beautifully.

    Aromas of fresh cut apple, lemon curd, white peach, pink grapefruit and heady florals on the nose, with lifted floral notes of honeysuckle & orange blossom, lead into a toasty palate showing some gently aged-Riesling flavours. A brilliant match to the classic festive-season aromas of sunscreen, smoked ham, and freshly popped Christmas Crackers crackers. The wine shows a superlative structure, racy acid, and a long and elegant finish. Nice labels too. Head to your nearest sun-drenched verandah, open a book, and drink by the gulpful.  And it's price means if someone else finds your peaceful corner, you won't mind sharing. EFFIE

    2014
    Riesling
    Australia
    377
  7. Pikes The Merle Riesling 2021
    Pikes The Merle Riesling 2021

    Terrific intensity here, incredible length and perfect structure. This wine offers more chalky soil notes (or at least, that is what it appears to do), along with those beautiful fresh lime characters. This is a stunning Riesling. The flavours explode across the palate. It has a life of twenty years ahead of it and many more, if you can be that patient. If there is a better Riesling made in Australia this decade, I want to know about it. (99) KEN GARGETT

    An imperial standard, of sorts! Lemongrass, lime cordial, green apples. Huzzah! A touch of blackcurrant too? Perhaps. Attractive, varietal scents. Zingy and energetic to taste, compact, bracing with its core of steely, lemon juice acidity. Pent up, powerful, tight and very long. Bone dry. Excellent, classic expression. A Very Good Example. MIKE BENNIE

    2021
    Riesling
    Australia
    377
    Special Price $45.00 Regular Price $53.00 As low as $42.00
  8. Jim Barry Florita Riesling 2021
    Jim Barry Florita Riesling 2021
    Pristine and precise. It's so primary and focused right now that it's like a jolt of energy when it hits your mouth and it doesn't settle down. It kind of sears the palate with its intensity and thrust of edgy, green tinged fruit. Remarkably long. Feels almost chalky, or powdery as it closes. Perfectly pitched in both style and substance. What a wine. What a stupendously good example of Australian Riesling, one destined for greatness. ROSCOE
    2021
    Riesling
    Australia
    377
    Special Price $51.00 Regular Price $60.00 As low as $48.00
  9. Koerner Cannonau 2020
    Koerner Cannonau 2020
    The Koerner brothers grew up in the Clare Valley but have since spent time working and studying around Australia and overseas. The wines are produced from fruit grown within a 500m radius of the Watervale area in the Clare Valley, with the majority coming from their family vineyard, Gullyview which has been owned and managed by our parents, Christine & Anthony Koerner, for over 40 years.

    They make wines that re?ect their place in the world, wines that are made in the vineyard. Each batch is treated carefully and individually looking to coax site and a sense of terroir in their wines. These are singular and unique expressions, and we love what the boys are doing here. Currently implementing organic practices and very low sulphur regimes. PWS

    Off 90-year-old bush vines.

    Juicy, fleshy but bright and flavoursome red. Cranberry juice, tomato leaf, a bit of Campari. Round, rollicking, full but bright. Nice spread of fine tannin in the mix. A splash of balsamic tang to close. Pretty but bold in a way too. Very likeable, come hither just shy of medium red. MIKE BENNIE, The Wine Front
    2020
    Grenache
    Australia
    377
  10. Koerner Gullyview Riesling 2020
    Koerner Gullyview Riesling 2020

    Very limestone, southerly aspect. Ceramic and stainless steel vessels, natural ferment, no filter, no fine, on lees for hang time.

    Tangy but plush, juicy and concentrated with a zing of tart acidity through the core. Minerally, powdery texture, low key flavours, lime, green apple, a bit of mint. Good feel here, complex, intense, still refreshing but quite a mouthful. MIKE BENNIE, The Wine Front

    2020
    Riesling
    Australia
    377
  11. Jim Barry McRae Wood Shiraz 2013 Cellar Release
    Jim Barry McRae Wood Shiraz 2013 Cellar Release

    Yes, if you were wondering, I do prefer this to the 2012 Armagh.
    Red and black berries, nougat and coconut, mint, light earthiness and soy sauce savouries. It’s medium to full bodied, smooth and well balanced, even flow of mixed berry flavour, nutty oak, some savoury stuff, fine grained tannin, and a long lip smacking finish with a gentle churn of tannin keeping it real. Beautifully turned out. Delicious. GARY WALSH, The Wine Front 2016

    Opaque ruby. Dark berries, cherry cola, vanilla and a hint of licorice on the deeply perfumed nose. Broad and fleshy on entry, offering bitter cherry and blackberry flavors that become firmer with aeration. Picks up a spicy quality with air and finishes very long, sweet and smooth; harmonious tannins add shape and gentle grip. JOSH RAYNOLDS

    2013
    shiraz
    Australia
    377
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