Leeuwin Estate Riesling 2009 and Leeuwin Estate Riesling 2004

Many Australian wineries like to produce single variety wines from a Noah’s Ark like selection of grape varieties, and Leeuwin Estate is no exception.  Despite producing one of Australia’s leading chardonnays, and being situated in a region (the Margaret River) best known for this grape variety and high quality Bordeaux blends, they also try their hand at riesling and put their premium range “Art Series” designation
on it.  There are perhaps some good examples of the riesling grape producing good wines in this region, perhaps further south, but I have not yet been fortunate enough to try them.
A couple of years ago, I looked at Leeuwin Estate’s riesling from 2009, and found it to be good rather than very good.  Here’s my earlier review.  This time I tried the 2009 and the 2004 together in a blind line-up, and so there could be no possible chance of pre-judgement – even the bottle was hidden from my view.  Even blind though, my thoughts were rather similar.
The 2004 Art Series riesling:
Lemon in colour, the aroma is very reductive to the point of unpleasant on opening.  With time in the glass aromas other than sulphur were able to push their way through – most predominantly lemon citrus, and some white nectarines and a minerally character if you search, each with a medium intensity expression.  On the palate, tart lemons and high acid make this wine somewhat hard going, with no particular length.  79-80 points (average to good)
Abv: 12%
Price: around $15
Vendors: try auction
Tasted: March 2012
The 2009 Art Series riesling:
Lemon in colour, the aroma is of lemon pith and lemons generally, and remains youthful, with between light and medium intensity of expression.  The palate has medium-high acidity, and lemon and mineral flavours dominate, and no particular length.  83 points (good)

Abv: 12%
Price: around $15
Vendors: try auction
Tasted: March 2012

Overall, these are quite severe wines that will please those who enjoy an ungiving style of riesling or perhaps lower levels of alcohol.  I preferred the 2009 in its youth to the 2004 on this occasion.  I think the Clare and Eden Valleys provide better value for your riesling dollar, noting that the release price for Leeuwin Estate’s current vintage Art Series riesling from 2011 (as yet unreviewed) is now $21.50.

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