Rieslingfreak began as passion project for John Hughes in 2009. From that first vintage, it has grown to a portfolio of 11 different Rieslings. Rieslingfreak follows the German tradition of classifying each Riesling according to its technical specifications, specifically sugar and alcohol content. Made with the philosophy of representing a single region and iconic style of Riesling in every bottle, each Rieslingfreak wine is allocated a number. This represents not only the area in which the fruit was grown, but also the style and technical specifications to which the wine is made.
In order to represent the diversity of Riesling, several specifically selected regions and sites are used to source the grapes. White Hutt is the family vineyard in the Clare Valley, owned by Richard and Anne Hughes. The majority of the 5 sites has deep red clay, over limestone, providing a fruit driven style of Riesling. The No.5 site has shale grey soils over limestone, resulting in a delicate Riesling that is perfect for the ‘off dry’ style.
The Polish Hill River vineyard, owned by Robert and Lyn Jaeschke, is south-east of the Clare township, in the heart of the Polish Hill River. Planted on grey loam over sandy limestone and shale rock, these vines produce tight Rieslings, often with green apples and citrus, and a tight acid.
Fruit for the Eden Valley Riesling is sourced from four vineyards located across the Southern Ranges of Eden Valley. Two vineyards are located in Flaxman Valley in High Eden, a premium sub-region of Eden Valley. The first vineyard, owned by Michael Mason, is planted on shallow grey sandy loam over shale rock. The second vineyard is owned by Ben Zander, planted in loam soil over light medium clay, with high quartz rock and gravel content.
The third vineyard belonging to Mark Bartholomaeus, is in the heart of the Eden Valley township, with 65 years old vines, producing wines with intense flavour and exceptional natural acidity.
Avon Brae vineyard is on the outskirts of Springton, producing wines ranging from lean and elegant to rich and full-flavoured. In the South-Western ranges of Eden Valley adjacent to the Adelaide Hills, the cooler temperatures and higher rainfall in this area lead to extended ripening periods.
John Hughes is a name synonymous with Australian Riesling and has earned a reputation as one of the most respected curators of this noble variety, taking out multiple awards for his wines. The name “Rieslingfreak” harks back to his university days, where he was known as the Rieslingfreak, as it was always the beverage of choice, with a bottle or two to share.
Belinda Hughes joined Rieslingfreak in January 2021 as both John’s other (better) half and an accomplished winemaker in her own right. Belinda has been making white wines for premium South Australian wineries for almost 15 years, crafting multiple trophy-winning wines across a variety of styles. As a winemaker devoted to producing top-quality white wines of all incarnations, it was no secret that Riesling was her personal favourite.
When it comes to winemaking John is looking for three key elements fruit, acid and sweetness to create a balanced, harmonious wine. Harvest mostly takes place in the cool of the night. Unlike most Riesling producers, they do not press the grapes, rather using a ‘spin and drain’ method to ensure the berries are treated very softly, reducing the skin to juice ratio and maintaining the purity of the juice. Fermentation with cultured yeast is preferred in order too express the continuity of the wines from year to year, just displaying the vintage variations.
After the very dry vintages of 2019 and 2020, 2021 was generally warm and dry, with good spring rainfall, ensuring good canopy growth. Summer was cooler and drier, with a long slow ripening period, low water stress and excellent fruit set. Harvest was spread over a period of 7 weeks, with the slow ripening allowing for exceptional flavour development.