I was reading an article by Tyson Stelzer in Decanter magazine recently about Clare Valley and Eden Valley Riesling. Of his top 15 picks from the 2009 vintage, 11 were from the Clare Valley. This preference for Clare Valley Rieslings over the Eden Valley is something I’ve noticed more generally amongst critics. Halliday’s best Riesling lists generally have about double the amount of Clare Valley. Jukes’ latest top 100 wines has 7 Clare as against 3 Eden, while Nick Stock’s Penguin Wine Guide has 40 odd Clare reviews compared to only 4 for the Eden.
The reason this broad trend has caught my attention is my preference for Eden Valley Rieslings. The lovely floral bouquets, and the minerality and acidity on the palate of the Eden generally does it for me just that bit more than the rounder, more citrus flavours of the Clare. Eden Rieslings from Pewsey Vale, Poonawatta, Torzi Matthews, and Peter Lehman have all tickled my fancy of late. Before I get into this further I want to say that I love Clare Rieslings. Recently I’ve had the 09 Grosset Polish Hill, as well as the 09 Petaluma Hanlin Hill, and both were absolutely stunning. However, in nominating a preference between these two wonderful Riesling regions, I fall on the Eden side of the ledger.
But I guess my question is what is the reason for the clear dominance of Clare Rieslings amongst wine critics? Is it people’s opinion that Clare Rieslings are definitively better than those of the Eden Valley? Is it possible that in the slightly more objective elements of wine like length, structure, and balance, that the Clare produces better wines.
Do people prefer the flavour profiles of Clare Riesling?
Is it the history of the Clare and the fact it there are possibly more historic wineries of real pedigree? Wineries like Knappstein and Grosset produce truly iconic Riesling, but are they given higher regard than a Pewsey Vale Contours or a Leo Buring Leonay?
Or is it nothing more complicated than the fact that there are more wineries in the Clare with more hectares of Riesling?
Whatever the case it’s an enjoyable conundrum. Both regions occupy a loving place in my cellar but for the minute the Eden has the edge for me . . .