Pewsey Vale: Riesling heaven

Our visit to Yalumba, one of South Australia’s historic wineries, was very much a game of two halves. First a tasting in one of the cunningly reconditioned 175,000-litre fermentation tanks, itself something of a first, then a drive to Pewsey Vale. The tasting was a quick spin around the remarkable range of styles the company now makes, partly through also owning companies in Tasmania, eg Jansz.  Thus they can now offer refined toasty sparkling wines, Viognier in several styles, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Tasmania, Tempranillo from the Barossa and classic Aussie Cabernet/Shiraz in The Scribbler.  There is also a large range at entry level prices – Vermentino and Sangiovese Rosé were just two that catch the eye. 

Living in north Hampshire, England, one is really struck by the number of English places names in South Australia. Of course it is hardly surprising as settlers gave their new villages, towns and streets familiar names.  One of the most touching for those of us from the south of England is Pewsey Vale.  For us, Pewsey is a delightfully low-key largish village in Wiltshire, just 17  miles from home.   It sits in the middle of the vale which bears its name.  After the tasting Jane Ferrari, Yalumba’s global ambassador and all-round legend drove us out into the Eden Valley (echoes of Cumbria) to Pewsey Vale to see the vineyards which grow the famous Riesling. We did have to stop for an emergency coffee and outsized piece of delicious cake first but we heroically rose to this challenge too.

The ride up to Pewsey Vale is magical.  In mid summer the grass is straw coloured punctuated by mid-green gum trees (see the earlier post on these) reassuring you that there is still life in this parched land.  The famous Riesling vineyard is on Pewsey Vale Peak with splendid views all around. First planted in 1861, replanted a century later, it has now been joined by Heggies Vineyard, acquired in 1972.  The finale to our tour was tasting the 2015 Pewsey Vale along with the 2010 Museum Release. This provided a classic contrast between the youthful, floral expression (with explosive lemon and lime rind notes) of the first and the toast and marmalade perfection of the older wine.  Riesling heaven in the Eden Valley!  

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