A sense of place – Rieslingfreak
‘A sense of place’
At Rieslingfreak, the total production is 9,000 x 12 bottles each year. The vineyards include 40 acres at White Hutt in Clare Valley (family vineyard), 10 acres at Polish Hill and 20 acres at Eden Valley. The company sells to all states and territories where the wines are sold in the on premise and off premise. They also export which is less than 2%.
Rieslingfreak focuses on the quality of juice they produce. By only crushing and draining (as opposed to as opposed to pressing), John is able to obtain just the virgin juice which avoids too many phenolics. This is one reason why they produce just 50 dozen bottles per tonne; lower than some larger wineries.
And next year…Rieslingfreak celebrates turning 10!!
Soil & Vineyard work
The wines that John makes reflect the soil and the climate where they are grown. All wines have minimal intervention with minimum spray; just enough to avoid disease to enable healthy fruit and healthy wine. There is also minimal irrigation.
By machine picking it speeds up the process of collecting the grapes. To pick the 50 tonnes of grapes which makes up the fruit for No. 3, it would take 5 days to handpick versus machine picking which can be done overnight. The key is to pick at the coolest time and process as quickly as possible.
With regards to the pruning, this is up to the vineyard owners. All vineyards are Cordon spur pruned with some lifting wires to help protect the fruit. The pruning is again down to the vineyard owners. However when it comes to picking, it John who decides. John is constantly in the vineyards, particularly nearing vintage. This tends to be the middle of February and there follows the winemaking process until mid May. Then the new wines are released on the 1st June.
Characteristics from different regions
The different soils exhibit different characters in the wine. John explains: “Clare Valley gives notes of green limes, lemons and grapefruit and floral to the wine. Eden Valley is more brown citrus, Bickford lime cordial, sweet spice in the wine. Polish Hill River soil is made up of shale rock, with slate and limestone going through the valley and as a result, the Polish Hill River Rieslings have a flinty and minerallyness.”
The Rieslingfreak No. 4 which is sourced only from Eden Valley won best Riesling at Barossa Valley Wine Show a few weeks ago.
The Eden Valley has different mesoclimates with the altitude, aspect and slope. The altitude ranges from 380-550m with 280 mm of rainfall annually.
It is a warm and often hot summer but the afternoon breezes help cool down the vines and are integral in the ripening process. There are also large diurnal variation which helps to maintain good acidity levels. The altitude ranges from 300-600m with 600mm of annual rainfall.
Polish Hill River:
Polish Hill River is a sub region within the Clare Valley, on the eastern side. The climate is moderately continental with cool to cold nights and warm to hot summer days. The higher altitude, compared to other wine regions in South Australia, ensures cool nights even during the heat of summer allowing the fruit to ripen more evenly and slowly.
The vineyards here run east to west which has a positive effect on the grapes. With east/west vineyards, the grapes have greater protection from the sun, minimising sun exposure onto the berries, hence delivering healthier berries to the winery, especially on hot vintages.
Warmer vintage means more petrol notes in the wine. Getting more technical for moment, the reason is that it relates to TDN (1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2dihydronaphthalene) which gives a kerosene-like aroma in some wines. The amount is dependent on a number of factors including sun exposure. Rieslingfreak do their best to minimise this, through strict vineyard management.
Wines and Styles
No. 1: This will be released in February as Rieslingfreak celebrates its 10th birthday. With this wine, John is bringing the New and Old World together using a large 1500L French barrel. The barrel was seasoned throughout the 2016 vintage, ready for making the No.1 in the 2017 Vintage. 2017 was the best vintage for John to date where he handpicked 4.5 tonnes from individual rows for this wine. The grapes were then chilled for 48 hours and whole bunch pressed. Then once settled they were racked into the barrel where they underwent wild fermentation. The wine was fermented dry and stayed on lees for seven months. The wine will be bottled in December allowing for 2 months of bottles shock before being released onto the market.
John’s younger brother Daniel has been working on the artwork for the label and we look forward to seeing the newly released wine!
No. 2: This is from Polish Hill River where the soil is a mix of grey brown loam over sandy limestone and shale rock. There is also slate and stone here. As a result the wine is more mineral and flinty and refined and has 0.7 g/L of residual sugar so bone dry. There is a lovely freshness to this wine with citrus peel, more mineral notes and full of fruit.
No. 3: Sourced from the Clare Valley, from the 5 blocks in the family vineyard which makes up 40 acres. John describes this wine for “fine dining or front bar situation” and at just 11.5%, this is lovely and fresh. It is a fruit driven style which is a result of the heavy red clay soils. It has the Clare Valley characteristics; ripe lemon and lime and some tropical fruit notes.
No. 4: The fruit is sourced from 2 vineyards in From Eden Valley. The shallow grey sandy loam over shale rock give the wine a touch of lime cordial sweetness. On the palate, it feels like a mix of both No. 2 and No. 3. There is the fruit (apricot) and minerality on the nose. The Palate is well rounded with lime and touch of minerality, apricot and floral notes.
No. 5: This is an off dry style (14g/L of residual sugar) and sourced from the Clare Valley, on the flats, like No. 3. The fruit is sourced from 5 different vineyards and made from 2 different clones. Here in the White Hutt region there is heavy loam and terra rossa soil which helps create the more fruit driven styles. The fruit is picked 5 to 7 days before No. 3 in order to have that natural acid and to balance out the sugar. Notes of orange pith, grapefruit and lime coupled with a touch of sweetness leading to a dry finish make this a very popular wine among the range.
No. 6: This is an aged release and from 2013. It comes from the same vineyard as No. 5 but it is picked 5 days earlier as John is looking for the acidity. The fruit is still there but a touch greener. The sugar is lower so the alcohol is lower (11.5%). Rieslingfreak keeps the wine for 5 years before cellaring. The higher acid level softens off after the 5 years. The palate is lovely and fresh yet with a length with lime notes and touch of creaminess at back.
No. 7: From the Clare, on the flats, like No. 3. There are 5 different vineyards and 2 different clones. Here in the White Hutt region there is heavy loam and terra rossa soil which helps create the more fruit driven styles. No 7 is a fortified Riesling. The juice is fermented to 7 to 8 Baume (which is about 140 g/L sugar) and then fortified with a 3 year old brandy spirit. It is tawny in appearance with a bright watery rim. It has a wonderful nuttiness to the nose with caramel, nutty and marzipan notes following through on the palate. This is made every second year.
No. 8: From Polish Hill River. John is aiming for a Kabinett style with this 58 g/L wine. At 6% it is the lowest alcohol wine in the range. Lovely honeyed notes and passionfruit in this wine. The acid, sugar and fruit are all beautifully balanced in this wine.
Polish Hill River was originally selected for No. 8 for the Kabinett Style as John wanted a vineyard with big berries, big bunches and big canopies. For this, he required a vineyard with great water source which is what they have in the Polish Hill Vineyard. The reason for big berries, is to get less skin to juice ratio, minimising the phenolics in the juice, and looking for that purity you would expect in a kabinett juice and wine.
No. 9: This is the only sparkling made in the range. Again, it is sourced from the Clare Valley on the flats, like No. 3. Here in the White Hutt region there is heavy loam and terra rossa soil which helps create the more fruit driven styles. The fruit is taken from the coolest sites in order to obtain that natural high acidity that is so important in sparkling wines. Rieslingfreak No.9 Sekt Riesling is made in the style Methode Traditionelle, from grapes harvested early and fermented dry. With the wine left on its lees, it allows the complex flavours before secondary fermentation in bottle. Then the wine is stored on yeast lees and cellared for between 24 to 30 months before disgorgement. As John describes, “The wine is a dry style, which shows good Riesling aromatics together with yeasty notes.”
No 10: This is the second release in 2018. The first was made in 2017. It was a blended parcel for John and Belinda’s wedding. There is a combination of 6 parcels in total in this wine which they believe best represents the vintage. In order to create such a wine, they brought wines from the individual vineyards onto the tasting bench to then blend the wine together. The final wine was 70% from Eden Valley and 30% from Clare. The blocks and vineyards were fermented separately and then blended after fermentation. The wines remained in stainless steel vats until mid May when they are bottled. The vintage takes 12 weeks from start to finish.
Swanny Cellars is a big supporter of Rieslingfreak. Drop in or call us about the range of wines that we stock!