Who is Rieslingfreak?
Rieslingfreak was established because John loves Riesling. Back in his university days, he would always be raiding his parent’s (Richard and Anne) cellar for a Riesling to take to a party. He researched Rieslings and enjoyed their taste and diversity. So the name ‘Rieslingfreak’ was bestowed to John and it was this name he chose for his company. Rieslingfreak produces a range of different styles of Riesling; bone dry (0.7 grams of residual sugar per litre or 0.7 g/L for short) to off dry, Kabinett style, sparkling and fortified. Residual sugar is referred to the amount of unfermented sugar solids that is in a finished wine. It is described as grams per litre (g/L).
The diversity of Riesling is unique and unique to the Riesling grape variety. What other grapes can produce a sparkling, dry, off dry and fortified and all from the same variety?
Where did it all start?
John discovered wine from an early age, at 9 when his parents bought a vineyard in Penwortham in the Clare Valley and started growing Riesling grapes. Before that John’s dad, Richard had been in sales selling paints to the local wineries. No doubt his interest in wine grew from the time he spent with his customers! As the years went by, John was soon involved in helping out on the vineyard with his two brothers. He can remember helping to train the vines and after a few more years’ experience was handling the pruning.
School & further education
While in his last two years at school John studied small business management which led John to gain National and State recognition for his work. After school he went on to study wine marketing via distance learning. Ten years spent at the Australian Wine Research Institute Centre working in the Commercial Wine Laboratory gave John valuable technical knowledge and skills. He then worked at the bottling company VinPac focusing on quality control before joining well-known Barossa winemaker Chris Ringland on his team.
John had always wanted to run and own his own company and Rieslingfreak had its first vintage in 2009.
When making a wine John is looking to create a balanced Riesling. This is fruit, acid and sugar.
-Fruit – is looking for flavour, weight and perceived sweetness the fruit can provide
-Acid – is looking for the balance acid provides to the sugar and fruit flavours
-Sugar – is the sweetness required to balance out the acid in the wine
These three things combined provides a balanced Riesling each time. The current 2018 vintage is looking good but the older vintages are also aging beautifully. John adds that the 2009 is still ageing well and the wines will age for at least 15-20 years.
John Hughes has won a number of awards including the Young Guns of Wine Winemaker’s Choice 2017.
Last year, the 2017 Rieslingfreak No. 3 Clare Valley Riesling won five awards at last July’s Sydney Royal Wine Show. These included:
-The KPMG Perpetual Trophy for Best Wine of Show
-The Albert Chan Memorial Prize for Best White
-RAS of NSW Annual Prize for Best Young White
-The Tucker Seabrook Perpetual Trophy for Best State Show Wine
-The Douglas Lamb Perpetual Trophy for Best Riesling
Apart from winning 5 trophies for No. 3 Rieslingfreak, another highlight for John and the team was the fact that it was the first time a Riesling had won the top prize of Best Wine of Show since 2003. Here is the link to full story.
The awards have not stopped and a few weeks ago No. 4 Eden Valley Riesling won Best 2018 Riesling at the Barossa Valley Wine Show.
A series of tasting experiences (by appointment) are available at the recently refurbished cellar door in Tanunda in the Barossa Valley, about an hour drive north of Adelaide. Although the wines are sourced from Eden and Clare Valley and Polish Hill River, John chose Tanunda as it more focused on his passion of food and wine. The tasting room is now located a beautiful 1861 stone building. With many original features including high ceilings, open brick walls and wooden beams, it makes for a wonderful tasting experience.
Make an appointment to meet John and Brand Ambassador Mark!
The Rieslingfreak range
The wines are numbered; No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6, No. 7, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10. These represent the region where the fruit was grown and the technical specifications in how the wine was made. John is working on No. 1 which will bring together new world and old world. We’re intrigued!
The No. 3 Riesling is currently in the spring issue of On the Vine . Drop into store and ask us about the Rieslingfreak range.
Swanny Cellars is a big supporter of Rieslingfreak. Drop in or call us about the range of wines that we stock!