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Mesh: it's cool ... and cooling


Whitey seems to prefer the fresher of this brace of upland Barossa Rieslings from Jeffrey Grosset and Rob Hill Smith.

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Mesh Eden Valley Riesling 2017 ($30; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap) is the latest joint venture in which the Clare Riesling maker Jeffrey Grosset is purported to pick grapes he likes while Yalumba’s Rob Hill Smith selects his own personal favourites, both from the same vineyard in the high Barossa. The wine is then made at Yalumba and sold at a premium.

I recall a vintage where the press release claimed the gentlemen picked into different-coloured buckets before your actual meshing, which is an enduring organoleptic image.

I wonder what they wore?

This wine has been released alongside the Mesh Classic Release Eden Valley Riesling 2012 ($38; 12% alcohol; screw cap), which could be another variety, given the gap the five years puts between them.

The 2017 wine is crisply citric, with those sharply-edged lemon blossom aromatic angles that seem pristine and fresh and mountain brookish. Below that sharp cleansing intro lies a bowl of healthy fresh juice that reminds me of biting into a nashi pear. Bright, clean and fresh to sniff, and similarly refreshing to drink, the wine seems perfect for today’s humidity: it triggers dreams of spicy Thai tucker at a hawker’s stall somewhere in the jungle. It’s cool. And cooling.

As you can see, the Classic Release wine gives you five more years and comes half-an-alcohol short. Providing a much greater contrast than those statistical details, the aroma of this Rizza is all soused in the waft I’ve heard British masters of wine call “that lovely Aussie petrol”, which is a character many of them seem to expect of good Australian Riesling. It is indeed a petroleum-like aroma that pretty well covers the citrus characters that must have been in there once.

Stylistically, it’s a bit like the difference between a cosy old Wolseley and a Lamborghini.

In my experience, this unusual fuel-stop aroma is related to sunburnt grape skins: if the bunches are on, say, the north-western sunshine side of the vine, they can take on a bronzy beachcomber hue and develop, from the start, this style of bouquet.

As I say, many Brits seem to love it.

Take it or leave it, this gives the contemporary tippler a glimpse into the styles of Riesling that were common a lifetime ago, before we got a proper grasp of plant physiology and the ways leaf canopy manipulation and vine row orientation – relative to the sun – can change fruit and wine flavours dramatically. The flavour is shorter and less brightly refreshing. It’s a more solemn, contemplative sort of a drink, offering you the chance to appreciate the difference a bit of sunshine can make, and that those five extra years cost you $1.60 each.

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