(Image: Belinda & John Hughes - Rieslingfreak / www.rieslingfreak.com)



John Hughes is a Riesling Freak! The Hughes family vineyard in the township of White Hut, north of Clare Valley has been the impetus behind John’s “Rieslingfreak” label and produces the core fruit for several Riesling-only releases each year.

As well as a key site between Eden Valley and Flaxman’s valley, John also has access to fruit from the Clare’s famed Polish Hill River, which goes into his top-tier releases.

Not content with siting idle, the Rieslingfreak wines change and evolve each year dependent on vintage and represent both extraordinary value, as well as true regional definition.

All the wines are made with low-yielding fruit, from old vine material, acid is adjusted at ferment only when necessary and only free-run juice is utilised.

2023 Vintage Report

"For Belinda and I, the first half of each year are the premiership months at Rieslingfreak, akin to a long run finals campaign.

Beginning with pre harvest rounds of the vineyards in February, assessing ripeness and tasting fruit for flavour development and concentration before determining the ideal picking date for each site. This was a vintage where patience was the ultimate virtue. Where time spent in the vineyard was critical to producing quality Riesling. Then long days at the winery, followed by endless classification rounds. Drawing on knowledge accumulated working independently and now together over many years to the task of crafting a collection of Riesling wines true to type, and reflective of the vintage. Perhaps a task of limited glamour but of utmost importance, we must then cast a watchful eye as the product of the toils of our growers, the nuances of the season, and our own sweat (no blood and only tears of joy this year) heads down the bottling line in the third week of June.

To say that we are merely excited about releasing the 2023 collection and only thrilled with the abundant quality and exceptional character of these Rieslings would do the wines and the vintage a grave injustice. For 2023 will go down as a winning year in every way. We look forward to showcasing and enjoying these wines with our customers throughout 2023 and beyond.

After a winter of average rainfall and temperatures across most of South Australia, the Spring of 2022 brought record breaking rainfall, more than double the long-term average in Clare and Barossa. Added to the wet conditions were record breaking low temperatures, 3°C below the long-term average daily highs.

The cold and wet spring led to significant delays in budburst and shoot growth, with growth milestones occurring 5-6 weeks later than normal. Good sub soil moisture levels and plentiful supplemental water courtesy of the wet spring countered the drier than average summer conditions, helping to maintain vine health and support ripening across the Clare and Eden Valleys. Cooler than average day and night-time temperatures persisted, with mild and temperate conditions extending into early autumn, ensuring a long, slow ripening season with remarkable acid retention in the grapes.

Rieslingfreak commenced harvest on 14th of March, 4 weeks later than the previous year and exactly 12 months from the date of our final crush in 2022. The 2023 harvest began with a small parcel of grapes from the Polish Hill River Vineyard for our No.8 “Schatzkammer” Riesling. This was quickly followed by grapes from our White Hutt, Polish Hill River, Eden Valley and Flaxman Valley vineyards, completing our entire harvest in just 11 days. Our final crush was completed on the 24th of March with fruit from Ben Zander’s vineyard for No.12 Flaxman Valley Riesling.

While vintage has been one of lengthy delays and numerous challenges, we at Rieslingfreak are ecstatic with the entire range of 2023 Rieslings. While the after-effects of the 2021 hailstorm are still felt across Eden Valley with reduced crop loads due to physical damage to the developing buds, crop levels from Clare and Polish Hill River are above average, and the quality of the wines from all regions are looking truly exceptional. To this point, it will be a truly difficult task to pick a favourite region, let alone a favourite wine, from the 2023 vintage. All we can do is continue to appraise the wines on a very regular basis!"
John Hughes, Winemaker/ Owner - Rieslingfreak

2023 Releases

No.2 – Polish Hill River

From Rob and Lyn Jaeschke’s Polish Hill River vineyard sited at 500 meters above sea level, 5km South-East of the Clare township. The Jaeschke’s are a Certified Member of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia.The 15-year-old vines are planted on 40-year-old root stock in grey-brown loam- based soils, over sandy limestone and shale rock. Average annual rainfall is 600 millimetres.

The Polish Hill River district is renowned for producing Riesling of elegance, and the 2023 No. 2 is no exception. The bouquet is highly perfumed with aromas of fresh grapefruit, jasmine, chamomile and apple blossom, with a hint of peachy sweetness. The palate is crisp yet silky- soft, with a fine, talc-like minerality imparting a pleasing slipperiness to the texture in the mouth. The bright citrusy flavours run a fine line between sweet and tart, anchored by the acerbically mouth-watering flavours of pink grapefruit and kumquat, wrapped in the subtly- sweet flavours of Nashi Pear, apricot and white peach. The elegant and complex palate is punctuated with bright natural acidity, imparting exceptional length and a clean, crisp finish.

Alc/ vol: 11.8%
Residual sugar 0.96 gms/ L
pH: 2.81
TA 9.5 gms/ L

No.3 – Clare Valley

The No.3 is harvested from the Hughes family vineyard at White Hutt, 6kms north of the township of Clare. Situated at 500 meters above sea level with an average rainfall of 550mm, the vineyard is planted in heavy red clay soils over limestone. The heavy soils produce the rich flavours and generous palate weight that has become the hallmark of this wine.

The 2023 No.3 is a uniquely balanced wine, exhibiting both richness and delicacy. The nose is richly seductive with aromas of candied lemon, yellow peach, toffee apple and fresh mango. The palate is intensely flavoured yet deceptively delicate; with zesty citrus-driven flavours of tangerine and grapefruit complemented by sweet stone fruit and rich tropical notes. The generous and lusciously succulent palate is deftly bound by a tight line of crisp natural acidity that carries through the long, zesty finish.

Alc/ vol: 11.8%
Residual sugar 1.9 gms/ L
pH: 2.73
TA 8.9 gms/ L

No.4 – Eden Valley

Fruit for No.4 is sourced from vineyards across the Eden Valley region, predominantly the High Eden subregion of Flaxman Valley which is renowned for producing delicate, elegant styles of Riesling. Parcels of fruit are also sourced from the Springton area further south in the Eden Valley, and area renowned for intense flavour and rich aromatics, adding complexity to the bouquet and opulence to the palate. Eden Valley is renowned for Riesling of elegance, perfume and minerality and the 2023 No.4 is a classic example of this.

The bouquet leaps forth with intense aromas of Kaffir lime, passionfruit, rosewater, and quince, complemented by the evocative summertime scent of rain falling on warm slate. The palate is elegant yet assuredly structured with foundational slate-like minerality running beneath the punchy flavours of freshly squeezed lime juice and elderflower cordial. The racy natural acidity, a hallmark of the region and this vintage, runs the length of the palate concluding with a fine crisp finish, while the flavours linger lusciously in the mouth.

Alc/ vol: 11.9%
Residual sugar 2.25 gms/ L
pH: 2.83
TA: 8.9 gms/ L

No.5 – Clare Valley Off Dry

Harvested from the Hughes family vineyard at White Hutt, 6kms north of the township of Clare, situated at 500 meters above sea level with an average rainfall of 550mm. The vineyard is planted in grey clay over limestone, with the vine rows oriented east/west. In a year like 2023 that produced abundant natural acidity in the grapes made for a near perfect vintage for exquisitely balanced off dry Rieslings.

The bouquet is richly imbued with intense tropical fruit aromas of passionfruit, pineapple and papaya, with floral top-notes of orange blossom and honeysuckle. These sweetly succulent aromas transition seamlessly onto lusciously flavoured palate, where the sweet tropical flavours are balanced by a delightful zing of sherbet-like acidity. The natural sweetness of the style adds an unctuous richness to the mid-palate, while the driving natural acidity imparts linearity and length with a crisp, clean finish.

Alc/ vol: 10.6%
Residual sugar 13.0 gms/ L
pH: 2.71
TA 11.1 gms/ L

No.8 - Polish Hill River ‘Schatzkammer’

From Rob and Lyn Jaeschke’s Polish Hill River vineyard sited at 500 meters above sea level, 5km South-East of the Clare township. The Jaeschke’s are a Certified Member of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia.The 15-year-old vines are planted on 40-year-old root stock in grey-brown loam- based soils, over sandy limestone and shale rock. Average annual rainfall is 600 millimetres.

With an abundance of natural acidity in the grapes, 2023 will make for an exciting vintage for our iconic ‘Schatzkammer’ Riesling. The bouquet is sweetly scented with aromas of orange sherbet, passionfruit, grapefruit, jasmine and honeysuckle, which carry through onto the lusciously flavoured palate. This wine is low in alcohol with a finely-tuned balance of succulent residual sweetness and tangy natural acidity. The acid drives the length of the palate to a clean, crisp finish - the ultimate hallmark of the very best examples of this unique style of Riesling.

Alc/ vol: 8.0%
Residual sugar 36.7 gms/ L
pH: 2.77
TA 10.5 gms/ L

No.10 – Clare/ Eden Valley ‘Zenit’

No.10 is our ultimate multi-regional blend. A wine that captures the essence of the vintage and our definitive expression of Riesling. The label was originally created in 2017 to celebrate our wedding and to be served exclusively to our family and friends. But its role has been elevated, and now represents the very best of Rieslingfreak, produced in minute quantities from the most exceptional vintages.

The 2023 No.10 is a blend of precisely 50% Polish Hill River (Clare Valley) and exactly 50% Flaxman Valley (Eden Valley) fruit sourced from purposefully selected sites across three of our most outstanding vineyards of the year. The wine effortlessly harmonises the chalky, silken subtlety of Polish Hill River with the unbridled potency and structural rigour of Flaxman Valley, creating a Riesling that is perfectly balanced with knife-edge precision. The bouquet is exquisitely perfumed, an enticing symphony of fresh lime, pink pomelo, lemongrass and rosewater. The palate is equally seductive; perfectly pure and pristine with a soft, velvety texture and gentle acidity that imparts a lithe elegance and graceful persistence to the finish. The ultimate expression of an exceptional Riesling vintage.

Alc/ vol: 11.9%
Residual sugar 1.12 gms/ L
pH: 2.85
TA 9.0 gms/ L

No.12 – Flaxman Valley

Rieslingfreak No.12 is harvested from individually selected vines from the Zander and Bartholomaeus family vineyards in Flaxman Valley in High Eden, a premium sub-region of Eden Valley renowned for growing world-class Riesling of unrivalled elegance. This wine captures the very essence of the High Eden and all its splendour. First released in 2021 to celebrate John being proclaimed Barossa Winemaker of the Year, this wine celebrates the beauty of High Eden Riesling via a distinctive and highly perfumed bouquet, and elegantly structured palate.

The 2023 No.12 is intensely perfumed with aromas of Kaffir lime, guava, passionflower and rosewater with a classic Eden Valley mineral accent of wet-slate. The palate is assuredly structured and perfectly balanced with heady flavours of zesty Tahitian lime, piquant lemongrass and the sweet-floral pungency of fresh quince, grounded with a lick of stony, flint-like minerality. Crisp natural acidity imparts length and vibrancy, bringing laser-sharp focus to the driving, persistent finish. A standout of the 2023 vintage with both immediate allure and enviable aging potential.

Alc/ vol: 11.8%
Residual sugar 1.36 gms/ L
pH: 2.72
TA 9.7 gms/ L

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