Making riesling on the KT

Kerri Thompson (Photo: Wines by KT. Image: John Kruger)

Kerri Thompson is one of the Clare Valley’s great riesling enthusiasts.

At Wines by KT, she makes five rieslings per vintage, and recently added an occasional sixth, a semi-mature release. This is currently the 2013 Peglidis Vineyard Aged Release Riesling, AUD $55 at the cellar door.

She has single-vineyard wines from the Peglidis and Churinga vineyards, an entry-level AUD $25 wine called 5452 (the postcode of Watervale), a gently off-dry, non-vineyard-specific wine named Melva, and a slightly funky, cloudy, unfined, unfiltered, wild-fermented, sulfur-free wine called Pazza (it means crazy woman). It’s a nod to the ‘natural’ wine movement.

Interestingly, it’s this last wine that sparks the most interest at the cellar door. Less surprisingly, it raises the most eyebrows among traditional riesling drinkers.

“Being at Auburn, we’re often the last cellar door people visit on a trip to the Clare Valley,” she says.

Auburn is the region’s southern-most village.

“By the time they get to us, they’ve tasted a lot of Clare rieslings, most of which are fairly similar, then they taste the Pazza and they go ‘Wow, that’s different!’”

It’s not only deeper in colour and cloudy in appearance, it has a different spectrum of aromas and flavours as a result of being oxidatively made, and fermented partly in wood. It’s richer, fuller, broader, seems less acidic, and in some ways is more approachable in extreme youth. No sulfur, acid or enzymes were added. Kerri describes it as a,

“slightly off-dry style with savoury qualities, showing that riesling can indeed come in many different shapes and sizes.”

It’s not as though Kerri, a finalist in the 2017 Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year award, is an uneducated tyro using pre-historic techniques to surf the ‘natural’ wave, she’s a seriously experienced, highly educated winemaker. An Adelaide University graduate, she previously worked for Hardy’s and during that period was winemaker at Leasingham in Clare, and has consulted to numerous small wineries. Currently, she makes her wines at Skillogalee and consults to Skillogalee as part of the deal.

Aside from the rieslings, the wine that excited me was the 2016 Wines by KT Bianca Vermentino, a delicious honey, straw and mineral-scented white, with lovely balance, texture and drinkability, and just AUD $24.

KT has her cellar door in the town of Auburn. It opens on weekends from September 2 until Christmas.

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