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Crisp as Crisp Can Be
By Mary Ewing-Mulligan
Jan 1, 2008
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Palandri 2006 Riesling, Western Australia (Palandri America, $12)

If you like dry Rieslings, you know that finding them can be tricky.  Many domestic wines labeled as Dry Riesling really aren't truly dry; they are merely less sweet than the wine labeled simply as Riesling by the same producer.  And Alsace, once a reliable source for Rieslings that are dry, now makes many Rieslings that are so ripe and rich that they do not offer the bracing satisfaction of a truly dry wine.  My own personal frustration has ended, however, because I have discovered the Rieslings of Western Australia.

The 2006 Palandri Riesling is a really fine example of what Western Australia can do with Riesling.  It also happens to be an exceptional value; if the quality that this wine delivers cost twice as much, I would not consider the wine to be overpriced.

Palandri is one of the most export-focussed wineries in Western Australia.  The winery has vineyards in various parts of the state, including the Margaret River region and the cool Great Southern wine region situated in the eastern part of the state.  Although this Riesling carries the broad Western Australia appellation, the grapes actually came from the Frankland River area, which is a sub-district of the Great Southern region.  To my taste (and in my limited experience), the finest Western Australia Rieslings come from the Frankland River district, where the wines are imbued with a provocative minerality. The 2006 vintage was a cool one that suited Riesling well.

Typically of Western Australia Rieslings, this is a totally dry wine with high acidity that accentuates the wine's crisp, dry style.  Also typically, the wine has plenty of fruitiness - but no sweet impression from that fruitiness, thanks to the very high acidity.  Rather, the fruitiness is the concentrated core of flavor within a crisp, dry, medium-bodied structure.

The aroma of this wine is medium-plus in intensity and suggests lime and melon, with a bit of peach and grapefruit and an undercurrent of steely minerality.  In the mouth, you will likewise find medium-plus flavor intensity, that very crisp acidity and concentrated flavors mainly of grapefruit, lime and lemon.  The flavors carry long across the palate and the admirable finish expresses a richness of fresh fruitiness.  Technically speaking, the wine has medium (12.5%) alcohol, 2.5 grams per liter of residual sugar (quite dry) and a searing 8 grams per liter of acidity.

As much as I like this wine, I realize that some people might find it a bit austere, especially now, when it is young.  I propose three solutions: Hold the wine another year or even two; drink it just chilled, and not cold; or serve it in a round-bowled white Burgundy glass, which seems to round-out the wine's structure a bit.

Enjoy this wine with delicate white fish dishes, salads of all sorts, simple roast chicken, asparagus with parmesan, raw oysters and any dish characterized by fresh flavors.

90 points