If you admire fine rieslings from Europe then the award-winning Whistle and Hope label from Central Victorian winemaker Matt Kilby is one to watch. We spoke to him about his time working a vintage in Germany, and where he thinks the Aussie market is headed.
We hear you worked a vintage in Mosel, Germany a few years back?
I worked the vintage in Germany in 2015 for Zimmermann-Graeff & Müller. As an avid drinker and aspiring maker of riesling, I wanted to work in Germany to learn more about the variety and methods that were employed in its traditional home.
Why Mosel in particular?
I would have been happy to have worked anywhere in Germany, however Mosel is particularly known for producing wines with varying degrees of sweetness paired with searing acidity. It’s riesling production taken to the extreme. What struck me about most winemakers I encountered in Mosel was their devotion to the fruit and the land on which it is grown. There is a very strong sense of heritage and custodianship of that heritage.
Where did you stay during vintage?
In the town of Zell. The Mosel river is set in a very windy and steep valley and these features are important to the climate and terroir of the region. Zell stands on a long loop in the river that has carved out an almost teardrop-shaped piece of land. Zell is a popular destination on the river cruising itineraries, as it’s a picture-postcard German village.
What’s special about the Mosel vineyards?
Some of the vineyards are incredibly steep; the Bremmer Calmont vineyard is said to be the steepest in the world. By necessity all these vineyards are hand tended and harvested. Many are terraced. The steepest use rail carts to transport fruit, and the workers, up and down the slopes.
You’ve told us you feel the wines from Australia’s Eden Valley are under-appreciated?
I think the Eden Valley is consistently our greatest riesling region. For many years riesling in general has been under-appreciated in Australia. The variety has been abused by poor winemaking, a reliance on sweetness and lax labelling laws that allowed the name to become synonymous with cheap, sweet wine. We’ve now emerged from that time and it’s nice to see people coming to the conclusion that riesling has something unique to offer.
How is the Whistle and Hope 2018 vintage looking?
The 2018 edition of Whistle and Hope Riesling is fermenting now and early indications are good. We’ve had a near perfect season and, while the January heatwave resulted in a lower crop, the fruit came in looking very good.
What was the response to the 2017 release?
The 2017 Riesling has been very well received and sales have progressed nicely. From one stockist when we started last October, we are now listed by 22 restaurants, cafés, wine bars and retailers.
Whistle and Hope’s 2017 Riesling retails for $25 and is available at Armadale Cellars, Cellar Door Wine Store in Beechworth, Mansfield Produce Store, Ruffy Store, Phillips Cellars in Shepparton, IGA Euroa and at many fine eateries across North East Victoria. Online ordering will be available soon.
Whistle and Hope
Tel 0407 749 441