Top drop: Robert Stein’s latest stunning Riesling

by James Wilkinson

Robert Stein’s third-generation family winemaker, Jacob Stein, has debuted the brand’s star of the past 12 months, the 2020 ‘White Label’ Riesling.

Jacob says the 2020 vintage in Mudgee was “possibly the most challenging in the region’s wine growing history” and while many winemakers did not produce wine, “there was one shining light”, the 2020 Robert Stein White Label Riesling.

“We wanted to test ourselves and to pursue a 2020 vintage,” he said. “As Riesling is our flagship variety, we wanted to keep it alive, along with ensuring our small family business survived and our wonderful staff remained employed. It was unthinkable to go 12 months without making wine, particularly a Riesling.”

Jacob said the location of the Stein vineyards was the main saviour during the horrendous summer.

“Our vineyards are located around 90km from the fires, with the smoke drifting into the valley from the South East,” he said. “We’re located further up the valley, at an elevation of around 600 metres, with the hills at our back. This funnelled the smoke away from the vineyard, ensuring the smoke didn’t settle over us.”

Jacob said the Riesling was handpicked followed by very conservative, pristine winemaking.

“There was less lees work than previous vintages with the goal to make a fruit driven, fresh style,” he said. “We initially described the grapes as declassified ‘Dry Riesling’, however we are extremely happy with the wine and are more than happy to present it as a Robert Stein wine.

“The fruit was handpicked after being tested multiple times for taint. It was analytically tested by the AWRI as unfinished and finished wine along with being presented to a number of tasting panels. No smoke taint was evident.

“We are grateful to have been in a position to make wine from the 2020 vintage when so many of our colleagues and neighbours didn’t. This has allowed us to retain all of our staff who continue to inspire and support the business during the ongoing challenges,” he said.

Jacob said the Robert Stein winery made a number of red and white wines from the 2020 vintage but look forward to vintage 2021, “with the fruit looking exceptional in a very favourable season to date”.

The 2020 Robert Stein ‘White Label’ Riesling retails for AU$35.