The problems of being king

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Being the king of the castle can have its problems, as Jeffrey Grosset attests.

Grosset is conspicuous for being widely rated as Australia’s finest riesling maker: his Polish Hill (tasting notes), Springvale (tasting notes) and off-dry Alea rieslings (tasting notes) from the Clare Valley are at the top the game, year after year. But the down-side is that people think of Grosset for riesling, and not for his other wines.

“While I’m thrilled that there is such demand for the rieslings, I’d like to think we have seven pretty good wines.” His portfolio (tasting notes) includes Adelaide Hills chardonnay and pinot noir, a cabernet blend called Gaia and a semillon sauvignon blanc made from Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley grapes.

The latest Gaia, 2010 ($65), is wonderfully elegant and graceful – one of the best ever, in my view. And the 2012 rieslings, which have been on sale for several months now, are simply great.

Grosset’s first wines, in the early 1980s, cannily tapped into the rarity factor by stating on the back-labels “250 dozen” or whatever the quantity was.

Working in retail, I noticed this exclusivity factor added to the wines’ desirability. Now I see Grosset has re-introduced it: the 2011 pinot back-label states “Only 500 cases produced”. The chardonnay is 600 cases (dozens) and Gaia, 900. The prices are a bit higher now, of course.

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