The Old Riesling block at Mount Langi Ghiran, planted in 1977, has produced some incredible wines over the years; the clever combination of site selection and clonal selection has yielded some glorious Riesling fruit for our indulgent winemakers to play with in the winery.
Spinoff Skin Contact Riesling was inspired by the idea of exploring the texture element to an extreme, whilst also opening up an entirely new spectrum of aroma, flavour and taste through long-term skin contact.
“The endless nuance of the Mount Langi Ghiran vineyard is a source of constant inspiration to me as a winemaker. It draws me to explore different interpretations of Langi, and its varieties.” – Ben Haines, Chief Winemaker
Grapes were handpicked at the point at which flavor, sugar and acid were in peak balance, and, importantly, skins and seed tannin were soft and yielding rather than hard, bitter and angular. Grapes were then de-stemmed in to an old 500L barrel that was stood upright and knocked the head out of to act as a mini-open fermenter. The grapes and juice were then left to ferment naturally.
Once fermentation had finished, the barrel was sealed up with pallet wrap and left for 14 months. The lees that had settled at the bottom of the barrel was stirred once every few months to build extra texture, and to give protection to the wine throughout its journey. The skins were then basket pressed to old barrique barrels and rested on lees for 2 months prior to racking straight to bottle without any additions or any filtration. Pure. Riesling.
“There were times we weren’t sure what was going on, or what was going to happen, but as with all winemaking – following your intuition usually gives the best results.” – Ben
There is more to Riesling than sweet and sour, and citrus and floral. Our winemakers have the scope to build texture around the natural high levels of acidity there is in our fruit, using alternative techniques, rather than sugar/sweetness. The idea of exploring and understanding more savoury elements of Riesling is exciting. Through this new interpretation, our Riesling delivers deep old spice characters such as coriander seed, lavender, fennel seed, curry leave and flourishes of clove and bayleaf. There are also moments of rose, orange peel and freshly roasted nuts.
The palate is an entirely different experience. The spices are pervasive, ducking and weaving throughout a creamy flow of mango, pear and apple, and bringing in characters to the finish that are reminiscent of chicken stock, mushrooms and certain cheeses such as Comté. There is the most pristine and pure acidity throughout this wine. Not linear, or focused; it is fine, but crackles throughout the mouth.
The acidity isn’t the only element tying this wine together; the extended skin contact has created a captivating structure to it. The tannins are super fine, even and wonderfully complex. Not an edge of bitterness, just a mouth-full of character, expression and charm that still speaks of Mount Langi Ghiran, albeit with an entirely different voice.
The 2015 Spinoff Skin Contact Riesling is currently available at Cellar Door and will be at Wine Island Sydney.