Rieslingfreak was established in 2009. John Hughes grew up on a family vineyard in the Clare Valley, South Australia, and has been driven by the versatility of the Riesling grape. His passion for Riesling was noted in his university days, where he always had a bottle or two of Riesling to share, and soon became known as the “Riesling Freak”. Fruit for this Eden Valley Riesling is sourced from three different vineyards situated between Eden Valley and Flaxman’s Valley. Two vineyards in Flaxman Valley, being Ben Zander and Michael Mason. Milton Tscharke has a small vineyard situated in the heart of the Eden Valley. Each year, the blend may change, but in 2020, it ends up being 41% Mason, from Flaxman Valley, 39% Zander from Flaxman Valley and 20 % Tscharke from Eden Valley. The wine is designed to provide complexity and generosity. A wine that is good to drink now. This is a limited production of only 500 dozen.
Eden Valley Rieslings often showcase delicacy and refinement. Rieslingfreak No. 44 typically demonstrates this, with aromas of citrus, talcum powder and white blossoms, with flavors of lime and lemon, with a background of sweet spice. The wine drinks well young, but will reward with a little cellaring. Oysters on the half shell or grilled shrimp on the BBQ – would be a heavenly pairing.
The vineyards are situated approximately 500m above sea level, and an average yearly rainfall of 650mm. The soils vary from shallow grey sandy loam over shale rock, to loam soil over light medium clay, with high quartz rock and gravel content. Each vineyard contributes something different to the wine. 2020 was the driest year on record. Right up until the end of December, we had high temperatures, in the 40’s. Just hot and dry! In January, temps cooled down considerably until harvest. Water was scarce – there was no rain for months – until Jan 31 when they had over 60mm in a day, setting up the grapes nicely for harvest. Crop levels were way down, but the cool change in weather allowed the grapes to ripen slowly, holding great natural acidity, right up to harvest.
The harvest decisions for the 2020 vintage were complicated. Summer was hot, all through December, followed by a very cool January. This was perfect for the ripening of the grapes, in terms of sugar accumulation, while maintaining higher acid levels in the fruit. Grapes were machine harvested at night and fruit was in the winery by morning – the preferred method for Riesling. Instead of pressing his Riesling, John uses a spin and drain method, where they spin the press every 10 minutes, to extract the free run juice – this ensures that the berries are treated very softly, whilst maintaining the purity of the juice. The juice then settled for about 5 days. Once the juice was clear, and solids were settled at the bottom of the tank, the wine was racked and the juice was ready for fermentation. The wine was then fermented at around 55 degrees for 10-12 days, until it reached his desired sugar level, at which point the wine was chilled and sulfured, to stop the ferment. The Riesling was then hot and cold stabilized, to remove all haze and crystals, before being filtered and bottled. Time lapse from harvest to bottling is roughly 3 months. Wine was released soon thereafter, in June.