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 eight hectare Polish Hill vineyard (ACO certified organic) is planted at 460 metres altitude in the coolest part of the Clare Valley. The low fertility soils of this hard rock site are composed of silt and shallow shales over a thin crust of clay and gravel. The vines have to work harder than those at Springvale, which is located five kilometres away, and so produce small, thick-skinned berries with bunches weighing just 100 grams.
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.
The organic grapes were hand harvested and delivered promptly to the winery in small parcels, where they were crushed and destemmed. The fruit was then gently pressed using a pneumatic press and the free run juice was inoculated with neutral yeasts to preserve the natural expression of the vineyard in the final wine. Fermentation lasted two weeks and took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks in separate batches according to clone and vine age before blending and bottling.
Tasting Notes & Technical DetailsGolden in colour, this Riesling opens up with an intense nose of lime juice and lemongrass. The palate is lean and structured, combined with a slight minerality and limey finish. An excellently complex, refreshing wine that bodes well in its youth but has significant ageing potential as well.