As a cold-climate region, it comes as no surprise that Rieslings – originating in the Rhine River region, which runs throughout parts of Germany, France, Austria, and Switzerland – are very adapted to the local Canberra terroir.
Whilst the best Riesling is the one you enjoy most, as a wineries tour operator, visitors often share their favourites. This is an unparalleled opportunity for gathering and sharing impartial insights. The below list is based on customers’ feedback.
- (1) Helm Wines1
Helm Wines is a fantastic winery in Murrumbateman which produces some of the nation’s best Rieslings. Helm Wines has been producing Riesling in the region since the 1970s, and their wines are known for their purity, elegance, and aging potential. Helm Wines is definitely a must-visit winery for anyone looking to explore the Rieslings of Murrumbateman.
- (1) Helm Wines1
One of the best things about Canberra’s cellar door experiences is how personal they are. Most are family-owned wineries passionate about producing quality. “People walk in and are surprised to be served by the winemaker,” Ken says. “You don’t get that in many places anymore. That’s a real positive and we shouldn’t lose that.”
JAMES HALLIDAY2 has this to say about Helm Wines: Ken Helm AM has almost 50 vintages under his belt, with his first in 1976. Riesling has been an all-consuming interest, ultimately rewarded with Rieslings of consistently high quality. Ken has also given much to the broader wine community, extending from the narrow focus of the Canberra District to the broad canvas of the international world of Riesling – in 2000, he established the Canberra International Riesling Challenge. Ken was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the wine industry. In recent years Helm has constructed a separate 40,000L insulated winery with a double-refrigeration system for the exclusive production of Riesling. The old winery produces the cabernet sauvignon. –
Only released in the best vintages, this is the very pinnacle of Ken Helm’s Riesling obsession. Helm’s 2021 Premium Riesling has received 96 points by James Halliday Wine Companion in 2022.3 “Such a composed and classy wine. Yes, it has lemon blossom, ginger spice and citrus flavours – and tantalisingly so – but there’s a depth that rightly puts this into premium territory. Best of all, texture is its hallmark, with talc-like acidity and a sheen across the palate as it glides towards a long finish.”
Helm’s 2021 Classic Dry Riesling has received 95 points by James Halliday Wine Companion in 2023.4 “This represents the 45th Riesling vintage at Helm and that’s worth celebrating. While lemony acidity is the driver, this is full of lime cordial and zest, barely ripe red apples and loads of spice. Expect a juiciness and vibrancy, but a smidge of texture leaning towards its dry, ultra-fresh finish.”
- (2) The Vintner’s Daughter9
As the daughter of renowned Riesling maker, Ken Helm, it is no surprise that Stephanie is also passionate about making her own Riesling style. Made from the Vintner’s Daughter estate 40+ year old vines all vintages of this wine, since its inception in 2015, have been highly awarded by critics and wine shows.
Their Semi-sweet 2022 Riesling has a gorgeous nose of citrus blossom, jasmine and fresh cut apple.10 Crafted in a dry style with flavours of fresh limes & crunchy Green Smith apple, vibrant acidity and a zingy lemon sherbet finish. Elegant & refreshing.
“This was the perfect vintage to produce this sweeter Riesling style. Acidity levels remained high even as the fruit ripened due to the cooler season. This acid was the perfect offset to a small amount of residual sugar – 17g/L obtained by blending back in some grape juice after fermentation had finished. Fermented in stainless steel with a cultured yeast to preserve varietal purity and freshness. The grapes for this wine were sourced from the Ballinaclash vineyard in the neighbouring Hilltops Wine Region. The owners of this vineyard are actually relatives of Ben’s, so its all still grown by the family! Mouth-watering aromas of apricots, peach & honeysuckle. Tastes of juicy golden peaches, a hint of pineapple, lime cordial and a fresh lemony zesty dry finish“
- (3) Clonakilla11
While Clonakilla is primarily known for its Shiraz-Viognier blend, it also produces a small amount of Riesling, which is highly regarded by critics. Their current vintage is the 2022 Riesling.12
Clonakilla describe their 2022 Rieslings as follows: “Murrumbateman’s cool, continental climate and decomposed granite soils are perfectly suited to Riesling. 2022 was another classic Riesling year with plenty of rain when we needed it and a long, cool ripening season.
“Brilliant, radiant, luminous…Another of the greats from Clonakilla with decades of promise before it.” – Tyson Stelzer
Drink now for its fine floral, citrus-edged fruit or cellar for up to 15 years and watch it develop lime and toast characters with age.”
- (4) Eden Road7
Eden Road vines are grown across a collection of unique properties comprising different soils and altitudes, with grape varieties best suited to these conditions, to produce wines of varietal purity, finesse and complexity.
In 2017 award-winning French winemaker Celine Rousseau joined the family at Eden Road Wines; and since, Eden Road winemaking has been re-defined. It is based on world-leading traditional techniques aimed at producing wines that are a pure and sincere expression of their terroir.
Eden Road’s 2021 Organic Canberra Riesling,8 stems from a belief that Canberra does and will continue to produce some of the best examples of Riesling in Australia because its continental cool climate is perfectly suited to growing lively and beautifully poised Riesling.
Tasting Notes: 2021 was a cool vintage in Canberra producing whites of great delicacy. Subtle lime and jasmine aromas, followed by a mineral palate and a bright natural acidity. The finish is long and crisp.
Winemaking Notes: Hand-picked, then destemmed and lightly crushed before pressing. The free run juice was separated from the pressed juice. Cold settled for 72 hours and then racked from gross lees and fermented at 15°c with a selected aromatic yeast in stainless tanks with 20% fermentation in older French oak barriques. The wine was left on fine lees for 3 months before fining, cold stabilization, filtration and bottling in July 2021.
This wine is both organic and vegan friendly.
- Comments? Suggestions?
Please comment below if I missed anything.
2021 Canberra Riesling – Organic. Eden Road Wines. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2023, from https://edenroadwines.com.au/collections/white/products/2021-canberra-riesling
2022 riesling. Clonakilla. (2023, April 9). Retrieved April 9, 2023, from https://clonakilla.com.au/product/2022-riesling/
2022 Riesling. Shaw Wines. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2023, from https://shawwines.com.au/wine/riesling/32968/
Canberra wine region. Eden Road Wines. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2023, from https://edenroadwines.com.au/
Clonakilla, C. (2023, March 23). Canberra District Australia. Clonakilla. Retrieved April 9, 2023, from https://clonakilla.com.au/
Helm wines. Helm Wines. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2023, from https://www.helmwines.com.au/
Helm. Wine Companion. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2023, from https://winecompanion.com.au/wineries/new-south-wales/canberra-district/helm
Home. The Vintners Daughter. (2022, September 16). Retrieved April 9, 2023, from https://thevintnersdaughter.com.au/
Our wines. Helm Wines Products. (n.d.). Retrieved April 9, 2023, from https://www.helmwines.com.au/shop/
Product details. The Vintners Daughter. (2021, July 28). Retrieved April 9, 2023, from https://thevintnersdaughter.com.au/wine/estate-riesling/22850/
Wines, S. (n.d.). Expect the unexpected. Shaw Wines. Retrieved April 9, 2023, from https://shawwines.com.au/
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Posted: 10 April 2023
Updated: 24 May 2023