Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Wines French Bistro Style

I originally discovered Riversdale Estate whilst tasting wines from all over Tasmania at our favourite cellar door in the city of Hobart (read all about Gasworks Cellar Door here). When I heard the winery now had a wonderful cellar door of their own with a fine dining establishment, I knew I needed to experience it for myself.

Fortuitously, our next trip to Tasmania just so happened to coincide with our wedding anniversary, so I had an excuse to splash out!

Riversdale Estate is only eighteen minutes of scenic driving from Hobart city. At the closer end of the Coal River Valley, it is just up the road from the well known and much lauded Frogmore Creek. The moment I stepped out of the car, I was impressed. Walking in past the manicured gardens, there were expansive views across the orderly vineyards to the water. I had not realised that Riversdale Estate is the largest privately owned vineyard in the Coal River Valley.

Courtesy www.tripadvisor.com.au
When I had booked for lunch at the French Bistro, I was dismayed to learn that the cellar door was closed that day for a function. This ended up working to our advantage, as we were offered a private wine tasting at our table! It was a wonderfully personalised experience and our host was very generous in both his pours and his knowledge of the wines.

I love doing side by side tastings and the Riversdale range is conducive to this, as they have three tiers: Roaring 40s, Riversdale Estate and Stellar Reserve. The entry-level range Roaring 40s is named after the strong westerly winds that predominate down at the latitude of 42 degrees south - on which the Coal River Valley is situated. The term 'stellar' is fitting for the more expensive and hand-crafted wines, as the property is nestled right next to the University of Tasmania's Mount Pleasant Radio Telescope observatory.

Courtesy www.tripadvisor.com.au
We focused our attention on the aromatic whites and the Pinot, as I stand steadfastly by my belief that Tasmania can rival any other wine region in Australia for quality (and value for money) in these categories.

1. Pinot Grigio/Gris

2015 Roaring 40s Pinot Grigio
Quietly crisp nose with apple and lemongrass; green apple coming to the fore on the palate alongside crunchy pear.

2015 Roaring 40s Pinot Gris
Being made from the same parcel of grapes as the Grigio, this made for a very interesting comparison. There was definitely still pear there, but it tasted richer, livelier and sweeter.

2014 Riversdale Estate Pinot Gris
More elegant in style, and from a lower-yielding vinatget. The fruit sweetness from the pear interacted more consistently with the acidity.

2. Riesling

2015 Roaring 40s Riesling
Strongly aromatic with honeydew melon and lime. The lime becomes sticky and luscious on the palate. Would be a great match for spicy Asian dishes.

2013 Riversdale Estate Cygnus Riesling
Instantly sharper with lime pith and a slick nut oil note. Again, lime was the dominant flavour, following through to bitter almond on the finish (reminiscent of a Vermentino). 

3. Chardonnay

2015 Roaring 40s Chardonnay
Vaguely tropical aromas of green pineapple. I found the medium body and acidity did not make this wine as enjoyable as others in the range.

2013 Riversdale Estate Crater Chardonnay
I didn't believe our sommelier when he said we might find some blue cheese on the nose, but he was right! There was a little whiff hanging around the buttery melon flavours. Upon tasting, the wine is extremely delicate with mild toast and moderate acidity. Very elegant, thanks to hand picking and restrained use of oak (6 months).

4. Pinot Noir

2015 Roaring 40s Pinot Noir 
Sweet, fruit forward cherry and raspberry showing both their tart and jammy qualities. A nice hint of pepper to balance things out.

2014 Riversdale Estate Pinot Noir
Immediately approachable, this is a smooth and silky berry delight with a velvety mouth feel. My favourite of the three pinot noirs.

2012 Riversdale Estate Centaurus Pinot Noir
Hand picked and treated with care, this is a very delicate style with a lean, raspy berry profile. I would like to see how it levels out over the next few years.

We were convinced to finish our tasting with the 2014 Riversdale Estate Musca Syrah, which turned out to be my husband's favourite drop of the day. Overall for me, it was the Riesling and Pinot Gris from the Reserve range that won me over, just as they have done previously.

I cannot end this post without raving about our delicious lunch. I threw wine pairing conventions out the window to try the sparkling NV Riversdale Estate Crux which is not available for tasting and was not available for purchase at the time either. 

The Crux was rose gold in colour with playful rosewater notes, fitting for the surrounding stylishness of the French Restaurant. I enjoyed this with an indulgently rich escargot dish, done two ways. I won't elaborate further about the menu - that is for you to discover when you visit Riversdale Estate yourself!

Courtesy www.tripadvisor.com.au