King of Kings. To The Clare Valley

It is a beautifully warm night when we arrive at Sam Miranda Winery. Our treat is to be some of the best wines of the Clare Valley.  Therefore the weather is entirely appropriate for the consumption of Riesling. And what a range of Riesling did we see. So we can compare and state without bias all the wines are presented blind.

The Clare Valley.

Before that though we needed the rich, malty and full bodied Pikes Reserve Lager to wash down some popcorn  prawns and delicious crusted lamb cutlet.

One White to rule them all.

The first wine Mt Horrocks Watervale Riesling 2016 Was everything I think of as classic Clare Riesling. Candied lime, floral, chalk, mineral, pure, citric, tangerines with a long finishing and dry finish. Due to its obvious youth I would put this baby in the cellar for the long term.

Pauletts Polish Hill Riesling 2016 provided us an almost perfect counterpoint. Pith, stonefruits, white stones, aniseed, spice, pink lady apples, pears and oystershell. There is lean acid and tasting very much of the earth. Like the Horrocks this is a young wine with time on its side.

The classic pairing of Watervale vs Polish Hill is always fascinating with there never being a right answer, only the eternal argument of which is better.

Leo Buring Florita Riesling 2008 offered an old wine. Definitely old due to the the strong and immediate kerosene. If you can describe kero as charming then this aroma definitely held charm. But there was a lot more going on underneath. Peach and mango flesh with a blossom of flesh on the mid palate it is a decidedly grapy wine too. Discussions pointed out that 2008 offered hot and dry conditions which would account for the seemingly early development. This was a delicious wine that is ready to drink from now.

Was this Alsatian Riesling? No, it was Jim Barry Lavendar Hill Riesling 2016. The nose on this wine though, was without a doubt channelling the great Riesling of the old world. Overt ripe tropical fruits and floral characters with stones underneath. The 30 grams per litre of sugar certainly was obvious but the acidity in the wine provided a scythe which kept it from being cloying. Regularly did we hear the word ‘drinkable’ in relation to this wine. It is apt and while it will no doubt improve with age, there is too much charm to resist it now.


With the mains approaching it was time for the reds. After much debate there was no consensus on what they were. Except maybe that the reds were all delicious.

Not Sangiovese but in fact Clos Clare Grenache. It showed a bit earthy at first but opened up to give us compost, plums, violets, gravel, soot, damson plum. The beautifully plush and soft palate showed some oak and jubes. It is a delicious wine that could almost be described as ‘Pinot Noir Plus’.

I knew this wine was Clare Valley Cabernet but I could not help thinking it smelt a lot like a full stems, 100% new oak, Grand Cru Burgundy. The divine aromas, of course, belonged to a perfectly cellared Grosset Gaia (Cabernet Blend) 2005. Stems, earth, spice, tea, chocolate and oak, it is very of the earth and always evolving. Eventually the Cabernet currants and plum showed through. Still quite structured with fine grained tannins and taut acid the palate was fresh and cool.

Our final red of the evening was more of the expected style. A hulking Shiraz, bathed in oak with pepper, salumi, game, graphite, caramel and toast. Like the nose suggests there is plush and dense weight of fruit on the palate. Hints of ironsone and a silky finish. Well played Mitchel Winery, the McNicol Shiraz 2007 delivered everything that you’d expect from a Clare Valley Shiraz.

Sweet Stuff.

One final wine to complement the berries & cream dessert. A Lush, intense, pineapple, apricot, floral and cured lime kind of wine. The Mt Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling 2016. Very young and primary with a surprising and welcome presence of phenolics.

Overall it was a fine showing of the best that the Clare Valley can offer. All the wines were from establish wineries that have earnt their strong reputations with wines such as we tasted tonight. It will be a hard dinner to top.

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