- Tasting Notes & Technical Details
For almost four decades, the Grosset ‘Springvale’ and ‘Polish Hill’ Rieslings have shown a consistency of style and quality that has made this one of Australia’s greatest wineries.
The ‘hard rock’ blue slate of the Polish Hill site results in wines that are steely and magnificently ageworthy, while the red loam of the Springvale vineyard gives more open and easily accessible – though no less complex – wines. Such is Jeffrey Grosset’s attention to detail that he noted a small strip (22 metres wide by 300 metres long) in his Rockwood vineyard that produced more generously flavoured wines due to a different soil. As a result, he decided to produce a separate wine from this site, ‘Alea’, which adds to his great canon of Rieslings.
As the story of ‘Alea’ illustrates, Jeffrey is fanatical about the quality of his vineyards, which are certified organic and biodynamic and are hand tended, with a focus on sustainability to offset climate change. In the winery, each process is gentle and uncomplicated. No fining agents are used and sulphur is the only addition. By combining a disciplined approach and decades of experience, Grosset consistently achieves the purest expression of variety and place. Indeed, his pure and precise Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reflect the single sites in the ultra-cool Piccadilly Valley, from where Jeffrey has sourced these grapes for the past 25 years.
Fascinated by the art of blending, Jeffrey has trialled Shiraz-based wines for years, resulting in the ‘Nereus’. With just a small amount of Nero d’Avola, it has a touch of perfume and freshness, with generous bramble and savoury overtones. His ‘Gaia’ remains one of Australia’s best Cabernet blends, made with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the isolated, windswept ‘Gaia’ vineyard he planted at the highest point of the Clare Valley in 1986.
The Alea Riesling comes from a narrow corridor of hard red rock with poor, orangey, red loam topsoil in the Grosset Rockwood Vineyard at Watervale. As the early fruit from the vineyard reminded Jeff of the great German Rieslings, he decided to take a very different approach to the creation of Alea. The aim was to make a wine generous, succulent and long. While the Grosset Springvale vineyard is a soft rock site of red loam over limestone, 'Alea' is a hard rock site and the wines are distinctly different.
The 2022 vintage was an idyllic year. The season started with a dry, cool autumn, followed by heavy winter rainfall. Higher than average rain in spring led to decent soil moisture and well-irrigated vines. Budburst was delayed slightly and combined with a cool summer, led to one of the latest starts to the vintage in over a decade. Nonetheless, the region managed to escape damage from fire and hail. The grapes ripened gradually and vines ended up producing fruit with healthy natural acid levels and complex varietal character. The delay in fruit set did not impact the overall yield and quality was consistently high producing outstanding Riesling.
Upon arrival at the winery, the grapes were gently pressed and only the free run juice was used. The must was left to settle until the desired level of clarity was reached, it was then racked off and inoculated with neutral yeast to maintain focus on the natural fruit flavours and expression of place. Fermentation was carried out at low temperatures in stainless-steel tanks to preserve pristine varietal characters. For the same reason, no oak was used in the winemaking process and the wine was bottled without fining.
Pale in colour, the nose boasts pristine lemon and blossom aromas. There is a bracing acidity balanced by a hint of sweetness, which carries a pronounced ripe citrus character with a hint of honey. Richness on the mid-palate leads to a long, chalky finish.