Never sure what might lie around each bend, we made our way deeper into the lush country. And after a long day along the river, Chinskirin convinced me to stop, I suspect, hoping I would come to my senses and turn back.
Instead -- oh, happy accident -- we found ourselves at the foot of the vineyards at Goaty Hill. So I pulled a reluctant Chinskirin along to see what was on offer. And -- oh, happy accident redux -- they had just opened a bottle of the 2006 Goaty Hill Riesling.
It had a brilliant goût de pétrole on the nose, with bright lime and grapefruit acidity, a dense and honeyed glycerin quality and sweet granitic finish. Perhaps my senses had been weakened by the miles, but I thought it was outstanding.
We also tasted the current release, the 2008. It was less Spätlesen in character, and more in line with the bright, fresh Rieslings I associate with the region. And also very good.
I asked how long they'd been making such charming Rieslings this far from the Mosel, and the fellow told me I was drinking their introductory effort. I noted it was an impressive first try, and he proudly admitted they'd had some help. An up and coming talent, Fran Austin, who makes wines (but not the Arras Sparkling) at Bay of Fires, had been contracted to do the wine-making.
The grapes were grown in sandy soils, "rubbish" the fellow called them, implying the low quality of the dirt might be responsible for the high quality of the fruit. When I asked about vineyard pests, he offered us stories of an ongoing combat with thieving possums they were battling with with owl boxes and .22 caliber rifles. I had actually meant phylloxera, but I suppose possums are a more romantic foe.
It was when we thanked our host and made to continue on our way that I heard again the name I'd heard rumored of in Melbourne; it was nothing more than a whisper that chased us further up river.