Discovering Pewsey Vale in Eden Valley

  • Sharebar
Pewsey Vale, Eden Valley, Louisa Rose, Riesling

Last week’s Royal Queensland Wine Show awarded the trophy for best 2012 harvest white wine to Pewsey Vale Riesling (96).

That put the spotlight on both the wines from the 2012 crop and a vineyard origin which is Eden Valley, South Australia.

Louisa Rose, the charming Yalumba chief winemaker is responsible for Pewsey Vale drops. She oversees wines with delicacy, even to the point of the female touch.

That winemaking association commenced in 1996 when she made her first Pewsey. Melbourne-educated, she had moved from the Yarra Valley many years earlier.

Louisa has many quotes to explain why she derives enjoyment from supervising the harvest annually, challenging with rain in South Australia in 2012, and even wetter in 2011, when on both occasions the grapes missed the rain clouds.


“Often winemakers have to blend across different vineyards to make complete and balanced wines, but this is not the case at the Pewsey Vale Vineyard”.

The lean soils and cool climate mean the vines naturally set a low crop, and their deep established root systems are able to achieve good ripeness and concentrated flavours. Monitoring flavour development and hence the timing of harvest are the keys to Pewsey Vale winemaking.

This 2012 riesling just has so much charm. In it’s trophy judge-off was a sauvignon blanc and a viognier alongside. The result was a no brainer, most judges agreed-riesling!

How did it smell, as aroma is so much the charm of riesling. We then know that a racy, crisp, light-bodied palate will follow.

Pewsey Vale 2012 is just floral, delicately-pale, giving out the white flowers, red spices, green limes and citrus flower-the hallmarks of concentrated, young Eden Valley rieslings which find their way to the UK for about ten pounds.

Pewsey Vale the place is all about riesling. This is a single site wine.

This grape of Silesian origin (imported by these people in the 1840s), is the dominant grape of the Hill Smith family’s holdings (from the Yalumba brand in the nearby Barossa Valley) in Eden Valley.

There are blocks of them-some old plantings, others more recent. The first plantings occurred here in 1847, then the current owners re-planted in the modern era in 1961 using a contour plan.

This became the name of the most famous wine from this vineyard -Pewsey Vale Contours Riesling -2006 (94) being the current vintage of the wine on offer.

Unlike the standard Pewsey Vale Riesling, this arrives on the scene as a five-year-old wine to trumpet the aging ability of the vineyard’s wines, and the maturing character of Louisa’s carefully crafted rieslings of great style.

These wines do age well. Yalumba presented 2002 Contours (95) and Eden Valley Riesling 1942 (80) at their Australian Museum Tastings 2012.

The vineyard in its various blocks extends to fifty hectares in a property of 145 hectares (there needs to be room for dams in this dry summer site).

To a trained vineyard eye, it is easy to decide the old part of the vineyard is part of the old-fashioned way of planting Australian hillsides-not in stone-supported terraces as in the Rhone or Douro, but in curved agricultural rows called contours.

These vine rows follow the undulations, however contorted on the same elevation, avoiding the need to plant steep slopes, and creating natural drains for the water to run after storms.

Modern viticulture plants up the slopes and creates direct rows of vines in a more precise manner.

So grab some 2011 Pewsey Vale Riesling now, and wait for the 2012 to arrive soon.