By Dave Brookes
The Clare Valley is widely regarding as Australia’s premier region for Riesling, producing wines with notes of juicy, freshly squeezed limes, floral facets and precise, crisp lines across the palate.
The red varieties too, are world class with producers such as Sevenhill (founded 1851), Leasingham (1893) and the revered Wendouree (1895) boasting incredible pedigrees.
With such a rich history of wine production, it is no wonder that the Clare Valley, a mere 1½ hours’ drive from Adelaide is so well regarded.
Like many regions in South Australia, it is a hotbed of new winemaking talent as young winemakers take inspiration from the famous terroir and producers that have put the region on the map.
Steve Crawford, nominated for 2014’s Young Gun of Wine awards and taking out the winemakers choice gong in 2015, chooses the Clare Valley to source fruit for some of the wines under his Frederick Stevenson label.
“Having grown up on Clare Riesling through my folks, I ended up doing a harvest at Pikes. A whole bunch of us from uni were in various wineries there and the diversity of the different areas of Clare Valley is really interesting to me,” explains Steve.
“I love Clare Riesling, particularly Polish Hill, and I thought I’d do a different take on it. It’s not going to be a Riesling for everyone, but the textural elements of it lend itself to food a bit better than the raw acid and chalky nature Riesling can sometimes produce”.
With lots of tattoos and lots of beautiful wines in his portfolio, Colin McBryde is another young gun shaking up the Clare Valley.
Probably better known for his Some Young Punks wines with the eye-catching cartoon labels, his wines under the Adelina label highlight all that is great about the region.
Sitting directly over the road from the renowned Wendouree winery, the rustic shed on his Spring Farm Estate with its 100-plus-year-old vines is the heart of his operation.
Sure, the Clare classics are well represented with Rieslings from the Polish Hill and Watervale sub-regions providing beautiful drinking but things get edgier and increasingly interesting with the estate Shiraz and Grenache plus the offerings of Fiano & Nebbiolo from the Adelaide Hills.
Keep your eyes peeled for wines from Travis Tausend, who sadly just closed his Gouger Street wine bar, Cork Wine Cafe.
His Clare Valley Rieslings, the Joy and the Quixley Rieslings provide beautiful, detailed aromas and flavours, great texture and tight lines across the palate.
When quizzed as to why he was drawn to the Clare Valley Travis explains: “I was interested in doing something new and different out of a traditional region known for its beautiful wines; a chance to push the boundaries a little.”
Experimentation and innovation are the driving forces of the Australian wine industry; respect for the past with an eye on the future.
And with the new crop of talent coming through, the future for the Clare Valley looks very bright indeed.