Merle Pike is the mother of founders, Andrew and Neil Pike, matriarch of the family, and she would be bursting with pride at what Andrew and his team have achieved with these latest wines (Neil is now enjoying retirement and more likely seen with a golf club in hand than a wine glass). The chief winemaker now is Steve Baraglia. I met Mrs Pike on several occasions and a more gracious and lovely person would be hard to imagine. This wine is a fitting tribute (I always remember her saying that she didn’t know why they turned the sauvignon blanc grapes into wine – it was so much nicer as grape juice).
In the early days, Pikes released a Reserve Riesling but from early this century, it has been named, ‘The Merle’. It is made only from grapes grown on the estate and not produced every year. No 2007 for example. There are some truly brilliant Rieslings made in the Clare Valley, and this sits comfortably with any of them.
Even paler than the Traditionale, if that is possible, again we have the wonderful lifted aromas and pronounced flavours but this wine is more subtle, and even though very early days, there is more complexity. Terrific intensity here, incredible length and perfect structure. This wine offers more chalky soil notes (or at least, that is what it appears to do), along with those beautiful fresh lime characters. This is a stunning Riesling. The flavours explode across the palate. It has a life of twenty years ahead of it and many more, if you can be that patient.
If there is a better Riesling made in Australia this decade, I want to know about it. $55 might seem hefty for a local Riesling but in world terms, this is criminally cheap. This is so close to perfect, it deserves full points but I think it might just get even better and I need the wiggle room.