This wonderland seems to exert a powerful effect on all those who go near it. This is more than wine, clearly: what we have here is poetry and magic and fairy dust.
‘This is a highly impressive partnership,’ James Halliday tells us in his Wine Companion, ‘between Peggy and Carl Lindner (40%), Elena and Zar Brooks (40%), and Fiona and Brad Rey (20%). It brings together vineyards spread across the Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Fleurieu Peninsula. Elena is not only the beautiful wife of industry dilettante Zar, but also an exceptionally gifted winemaker.’
We're off to a good start. This Riesling gets 96 points from Gary Walsh at the Winefront, who reports ‘remarkable depth and concentration. Lime, almost a lemon curd flavour and perhaps a suggestion of apple–the flavour is there–almost feels soft when you first taste it, then turns crunchy, spicy and runs very very long. Yes, we have plenty of stony mineral stuff too. Fabulous. A real ‘wow’ wine.’
Tyson Stelzer matches Gary every step of the way, and then makes a lunge for the trophy of wine poetry: ‘The bouquet sets out with a fragrance of pure lime blossom and spicy kaffir lime zest, which continue with delicate poise through a palate of seamless line, pristine energy and exceedingly persistent aftertaste. Soft, fine, mineral, chalky texture lingers amid perfectly poised acidity.’
Chris Shanahan just isn’t in the race here: 'God knows where Colin Kroehn’s riesling grapes went before Dandelion’s bright young people came along. But since their arrival we’ve tasted some of the finest, most delicate Eden Valley Riesling on offer – a particularly juicy, taut and delicate wine in the 2012 vintage. The Dandelion team includes Carl Lindner, Brad Rey, Zar Brooks and Elena Brooks, winemaker. Octogenarian Colin Kroehn tends his venerable old vines, planted in 1912.'
(Sadly, Colin is no longer with us – he died in 2010. He had real style, old style).
Patrick Haddock, the Wining
'No need to mention the superlative 2012 vintage in the Clare and Eden as it’s going to be a year to secure some bank loans if you’re a Riesling lover. There’s an Edenesque stature and signature of wet flagstones, lifted florals, kaffir lime and hints of candied ginger. It’s as much about citrus as it is about chalky minerals, it finds its trajectory immediately, delivering bursts of lemon, lime and scintillating spice leaving fresh acids to provide a lively, long finish. This is as good as Riesling gets – brilliant stuff. 95+'
Bert Werden at Winestar gets right in there with the best of them: 'There is just so much going on with this wine, so much complexity. Still pale enough to appear as though it were bottled yesterday, the nose shows a full spectrum of citrus blossom from lime to lemon and mandarin with a hint of spice which I love and believe adds a dimension to the better examples of this variety.
'In the mouth it is all Eden and reminds me of the great vintages of Steingarten of yesteryear with its chalky minerality that controls the fresh, somewhat restrained fruit and balances it with balanced with racy, slate-like, textural, crunchy acidity. Is it terroir, is it winemaking genius, is it 100 year old vines? What it is, is exceptional quality never mind the exceptional value at sub twenty dollars! Drink: Now-2023+; Quality: Exceptional.'
There’s stiff competition for all our poets from Dandelion's website, which describes the wine this way:
'Lights on in this Wonderland, an intense late vintage of powerful jasmine, mandarin leaf and even lychee juice bursting fruit freshness, with invigorating, intense smells of lime skin, citrus blossom, green apple, ripe guavas and cinnamon spice.
'An extraordinary precise and clean fruit spectrum of crunch lime and other citrus fruit flavours, stone-fruit, including apricot as well as classic mandarin citrus on the mid palate, developing into rich lemon meringue tart-like flavour but still with a refreshing steely minerality, balanced with racy, slate-like acidity.'
I'll let you make of this what you will, but I hope you enjoyed the poetry. My Tasting notes are much briefer, and I have to confess that I didn't find half the things other reviewers listed in their desrciptions. No ripe guavas, no mandarins, no candied ginger, no kaffir lime zest, no wet flagstones. Must enroll in some of Peter Bourne's wine appreciation classes.
Here is an excerpt from an article on old vines written by Max Allen for
US magazine Wine and Spirits http://www.wineandspiritsmagazine.com/
, which provides some insight into this remarkable vineyard:
'Colin Kroehn is just a little younger than the modest, hillside vineyard his grandfather established in 1912. "I remember it was 1912," he says, "because Dad told us he needed to get some wire for training the vines a couple of years after they were planted, but he couldn’t get any because the war had started."
Like many other old growers across the Barossa, Colin calls his eleven acres of riesling and shiraz his ‘garden’. This harks back to the very foundations of European settlement in the Barossa in the 1840s, when whole communities of Prussian Lutherans, escaping religious persecution, landed in the new colony of South Australia, seeking a new life.
These first settlers transposed traditions essentially unchanged since the Middle Ages - traditions of worship, of art, of mixed farming - from a cold central European setting to an often harsh, hot Australian environment. No wonder so many of those old vineyards have survived, passed down from father to son for generations.
Colin ... can pinpoint the moment when he saw his own vines move into maturity. "They came good in about 1942," he says. "When they were 30 years old. I know because I used to prune them and pick them as a kid, when they were young, and they were wild, then. But I remember thinking, around ’42, that they were better, and the grapes were better, now they’d settled down." '
Max Allen writes interesting stories about wine in many books and magazines - here's a link to his blog http://realaustralianwines.blogspot.com.au/