Textural, complex Méthode Skinny and the luscious Botrytis dessert wine
At Patrick of Coonawarra, we release four very different styles of Rieslings: the fresh, young Two-Blocks Riesling, a beautifully cellared Aged Riesling, the playful and experimental Méthode Skinny, and the luscious, complex Botrytis Riesling dessert wine.
This is what head winemaker, Luke Tocaciu, has to say about Méthode Skinny and the 2010 Botrytis Riesling.
“Within the purity of Riesling, I wanted to explore what some winemaking influence can have on the wine. In contrast to how Riesling is normally made, this wine has a little bit of skin contact, hence the name Skinny.
Riesling drinkers in particular are loving exploring this wine! Riesling has so many different styles, and creating a skin contact Riesling was all about experimentation and trying things differently.
In the vineyard, we pick the fruit, crush it in the winery, and add some whole berries back to the ferment. Similar to red wine, the more time it spends on skins, the more tannin we extract. By doing that with Riesling, this gives it a lovely texture to the wine. From there it goes into old barrels, which again builds that mouthfeel and texture.
Méthode Skinny is about making a really pure variety like Riesling into a more full-bodied, almost Chardonnay style of wine.
I think this wine turned out really well. With a bold experiment like this, you might be surprised that you can still taste that it’s Riesling, but with a beautiful golden colour to it, some lovely texture and some nice mouthfeel. It is a little bit different, and a really good food wine.
It’s Riesling with a bit of a twist on it. It’s a great wine to taste and compare to Two-Blocks Riesling, and see how different they are from a winemaking point of view.
I’ll continue to change up the Méthode range so that I can try different things in the winery. I’m interested in trialling some low alcohol Rieslings next. I’ve got a few winemaking techniques to try to get the same flavours but lower alcohol. So if you’re enjoying Skinny Riesling, you might want to pick up a few bottles before the limited run sells out forever.”
“Our 2010 Botrytis Riesling was a once-off opportunity resulting in a very small, delicious batch.
Botrytis is a fungus that is naturally in the vineyard and infects the berries. Riesling and Semillon are the two main Botrytis wine varieties, but it can be made out of any white variety. The fungus feeds off the water inside the berries as they’re ripening and growing.
This concentrates the flavour, so you’re getting huge amounts of sugar and some intense flavours in there as well. It adds a lovely orange marmalade character to the wine.
Our region is not known for Botrytis wines. Usually you need specific climate conditions to create it - a dry climate but with some humidity to create that disease pressure.
However 2010 was an interesting year because we had quite a dry year, with one big rainfall event halfway through the growing season which caused the Botrytis infection to grow on the berries. From there, the vines need to be dry afterwards, otherwise you can develop moulds that you don’t want in the fruit.
This particular year, we were lucky enough to have those specific conditions. It enabled us to grow this really concentrated style, which I fermented into a wonderful dessert wine. The grapes have huge amounts of sugar and I fermented about half of that sugar out to create a well-balanced wine. It has about 11% alcohol and is high in acid and high in sugar to balance that out. It’s a lovely dessert wine that also ages extremely well, if you can manage to not drink it.
There’s only about 500 bottles left from the batch that we made in 2010, and we’re right at the end of it. It’s probably one that we won’t make again - but it’s pretty special for those who have had it.”
This is the final instalment of our four part blog on Riesling. We hope you’ve enjoyed delving into one of our favourite varieties, from the development of Pat Tocaciu’s Riesling plantings in Wrattonbully and Coonawarra, to Luke Tocaciu continuing the family tradition and creating wonderful, interesting Rieslings.
Let us know if this inspires you to try a bottle, we always love hearing about it.