Pikes Masterclass, with Peter Bentley

Pikes MasterclassSituated in the Clare Valley, Pikes is a family owned winery, known to produce excellent Riesling.

Quick note on Riesling!

One of the most underrated wine varieties in Australia, it’s an aromatic white wine with a beautiful but delicate fragrance – which may include notes such as floral/blossoms, honeysuckle, citrus, green apple, lime and mineral. All on the palate too, with good depth of flavour, acidity and a very clean finish – good rieslings retain this elegant clean freshness that make it so great with many foods. Riesling can range from quite sweet, to off-dry, to dry. And can age extremely well. To top it off there is amazing value on good riesling! You can get a tasty, elegant, seamless riesling that will age more than 15 years for less than $20! German rieslings are some of the top in the world and can get expensive, but lesser known here. Riesling also makes beautiful dessert wines which are sweet but leave such a clean finish.

Anyway back to Pikes. Pikes’ rieslings are well collected in many private collections. They also make other wines and their reds can also be highly appreciated – there’s Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Merlot, Mourvedre, and even Savignan, Carmenere and Tempranillo (yum!). Pikes pride themselves on making high quality for every wine they produce, making pretty good value table wines.

Peter Bentley from Pikes was in Sydney and took us through the Pikes masterclass held at Wine Ark‘s tasting room. These wines from Pikes really are all fine quality, clearly representing terroir (where each crop of grapes come from i.e. the soil, the climate, the region, the vintage). The entire vineyard is fitted out with a drip irrigation system (keeping the vines functioning at their full strength to produce high quality grapes). Over 12 of their wines have scored 90+ points from recent Halliday ratings, also being a 5 star winery…

Below are tasting notes from the selection of Pikes wines tasted…

PIKES TRADITIONALE RIESLING 2012 – 🙂 Amazing, Great Value, Always a hit! Pristine Lemon and Lime fruit, with clean mineral characters. Smooth finish. Fresh (almost effervescent), young and drinking now but can also age gracefully over 10 years. As Pikes say it’s “The world’s best oyster wine”. Rrp $24/btl.

PIKES MERLE RIESLING 2012 – 🙂 One of my favourite Australian Rieslings. Very elegant. Typical Clare Valley. Mouth watering, pristine fruit (think lemon, lime and grapefruit). Wonderful texture overall along with intensity of pure flavour. Very clean finish. This wine is only made in the best years and will age more than 15 years – but too irresistible to wait that long! It’s so fresh and pure right now. A true riesling collector’s wine. Cellar door price $45/btl.

PIKES JT RIESLING 2012 – Named after Pikes’ winemaker John Trotter, who passed away during the 2012 vintage. The wine was going into the Merle as usual but after his death a parcel was made separate in his honour. Cellar door price $42/btl.

PIKES & JOYCE CHARDONNAY 2011 – Made with French oak, very noticeable on nose. Ripe stone fruits and grapefruit intertwine with good texture, acidity and body. Good value Chardonnay at around $25/btl.

PIKES & JOYCE PINOT NOIR 2009 – Typical fragrance and flavours of cherry and red berries, with good oak and smooth tannins. Easy to drink, good flavour, well balanced and plush. Around $25/btl.

PIKES EASTSIDE SHIRAZ 2010 – Plush fruits with spice and French oak, with a savoury, young edge. Cellar door $25/btl

PIKES EWP SHIRAZ 2009 – Top pick of the reds… Classic Clare Shiraz… Attractive fragrance/opulence on the nose, with savoury black fruits, cherries and warm anise spice with silky tannins. Warm and well rounded yet elegant, long finish. Will age for 20+ years if want. Single vineyard. This 95 pointer from James Halliday. Cellar door $70/btl.

Why is Pikes Riesling so good? The Polish Hill River where the grapes are grown is a premium region within the Clare Valley, ripening several weeks after most of the district, giving the wines that extra depth of flavour along with the cooler climate edge… The soils are also unique. So the Rieslings made at Pikes turn out well balanced and seamless, with clean slatey characters, lemon/lime and fine minerality, finishing fresh and crisp… Their dedicated handcrafting helps of course!

Riesling is a variety much loved by winemakers and wine lovers for their intense flavours and defined structure. They are delightful young and fresh, but also have amazing ability to age into a deep amber colour with more honey and toasty characters. The Clare and Eden Valley in South Australia are excellent areas for quality riesling, as well as Southern Highlands where I personally love Tertini Rieslings (as reviewed a while ago).

Cheers! 🙂

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