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Crawford River releases 2023 riesling and first Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

By J'aime Cardillo

18 Mar, 2024

Crawford River Wines in Victoria's Henty wine region has released its 2023 riesling, and will release its first-ever Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon imminently.

Henty's Crawford River Wines has released its 2023 Crawford River Riesling and is just weeks away from dropping its 2022 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which viticulturalist and winemaker Belinda Thomson has been keeping a close eye on. The Reserve Cabernet is a first for the Victorian winery, and will be released on April 9.

"It is a single vineyard, single site, single variety expression. And 2022 was an exceptional year for cabernet sauvignon on our site. With that in mind, I set out to make the vineyard shine. An extended period on skins post ferment creates a gentle extraction, with fine, long tannins. The lack of oak means it is all about the fruit tannins and changes the shape of the palate and presence of fruit."

Belinda ThomsonBelinda Thomson.

Belinda says that after she bottled the cabernet in September last year, it was fruit-forward and juicy. "Now it has settled, the fruit is still there, but the structure and vineyard/soils are really starting to shine."

The fruit from the Crawford River Riesling has come off the original vineyards, which were planted in 1975, '76, and '77. "They comprise mostly ironstone buckshot topsoils, over clay/loam soils, over limestone." Whereas the Reserve Riesling is a vineyard selection and generally released with some age.

Crawford River has been family-owned and operated since it was founded in 1975. Belinda took over the reins from her father, John Thomson, and she's been the head winemaker at Crawford River for the last 12 years, but her winemaking journey started over 20 years ago in New Zealand. "I feel an enormous sense of pride. It was able to bring me back to my family roots via viticultural and winemaking work in the Old World and New." Belinda's winemaking experience spans Marlborough (NZ), Bordeaux in France, Italy's Tuscany and the Nahe in Germany.

Crawford River vineyardCrawford River's first vines were planted in 1975.

When it comes to the region of Henty, Belinda classifies Crawford River as 'Southern Henty'. "As a vigneron, I spend 75 per cent of my time in the vineyard and believe the macro/microclimate of our region creates my wines... Our climate is influenced by coastal weather and winds – but we are not coastal. We have a moderate, long-growing season, which enables slow progression of ripeness with long hours of moderate ripening."

It's been dry in Henty since January, but the Crawford team are running about 10 days ahead of their harvest schedule. This week the team are picking sauvignon blanc, followed by semillon and a little riesling, before "getting serious" post-Easter.

Belinda says the varieties originally planted at Crawford River were favourites of her parents, John and Catherine Thomson. "I'm not sure they knew at the time just how well chosen the late flowering and late ripening varieties actually were! I feel very lucky."

Crawford River 2023 Riesling

2023 Crawford River Wines Riesling Henty

100 per cent whole-bunch pressed fruit that spent six weeks on lees prior to racking, sulphur addition and blending. A luminous, bright green gold. Ravishing aromatics. Apricots, orange blossom, geranium, makrut lime leaves and more. Just as enticing on the dry, gently textured, energetic and very long palate. And while it's just so damn delicious now, history tells us that it's always worth putting what is one of Australia's greatest wines away for a few years. – Philip Rich, Halliday Wine Companion, 97 points

RRP $54 | Drink to 2029

Crawford River 2022 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

2022 Crawford River Wines Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Henty

The first Reserve from a single block. Left on skins for eight months with the majority racked to stainless steel and a small portion to one barrique. A deep ruby red, this carefully handcrafted and perfumed wine has aromas of blackcurrant, dark plums and crushed violets together with hints of coriander seeds and incense. Medium bodied, elegant and gently fleshy with silky, persistent tannins to match. Will drink well on release and over the next five to eight years. – Philip Rich, Halliday Wine Companion, 95 points

RRP $100 | Drink to 2030

For more information visit crawfordriverwines.com.