Pikes Hills and Valleys Riesling 2021
The Pike family have been making hand crafted beverages in South Australia for 5 generations. With its origins in the brewing and soft drink industry dating back to 1886, the Pike name, and its iconic English Pike Fish is now synonymous with Clare Valley, and Riesling in particular.
Pikes Wines was established in 1984, and its viticulturist founder Andrew Pike still oversees the vineyard and overall business. Chief Winemaker Steve Baraglia is undertaking his 19th vintage in 2021, his second as Chief Winemaker after co-founder winemaker Neil Pike retired in January 2020.
Nestled in the unique Clare Valley sub region of Polish Hill River, Pikes pride themselves on make precise yet delicious Riesling that reflects the vineyards and the vintage from which it came. There is nowhere to hide when making great Riesling; every decision and process is critical. From Vineyard to bottle, everything must be done without compromise.
Their red winemaking approach is more laissez faire, embracing the use of spontaneous fermentation, small open fermenters, compressed air cap management, and minimal oak influence. The goal being to showcase the brightness and vibrancy of the fruit, that comes from their estate due to its higher elevation, cold night time temperatures, and it’s slatey slightly acidic sub soils.
Andrew Pike’s viticultural philosophy is underpinned by the idea that healthy vines make great wine. As such great effort goes into creating an environment that allows the vines to flourish. Pikes have championed the use of under vine straw mulch, mid row cover-cropping, and minimal chemical use for decades. All organic solid waste from the winery is composted with cow manure and returned to the soil, whilst all liquid waste is treated via a system of natural reed beds before being used to irrigate the vines.
Pikes aim is to produce wines that are light on their feet yet grounded, balanced, and most importantly, delicious.
The Clare Valley is actually a series of narrow north to south valleys, each with a different soil type and slightly different weather patterns along their stretch. In the southern heartland between Watervale and Auburn, there is mainly a crumbled, red clay loam soil called terra rossa and cool breezes come in from Gulf St. Vincent. A few miles north, in Polish Hill, is soft, red loam over clay; westerlies blowing in from the Spencer Gulf influece this area's climate.
The differences in soil, elevation, degree of slope and weather enable the region to produce some of Australia’s finest, aromatic, spicy and lime-pithy Rieslings, as well as excellent Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec with ripe plummy fruit, good acid and big structure.
Clare Valley is an isolated farming country with a continental climate known for its warm and sunny days, followed by cool nights—perfect for wine grapes’ development of sugar and phenolic ripeness in conjunction with notable acidity levels.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, this versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.