28 August 2023

Organic Lark Hill toasts international win for 2022 riesling

| Ian Bushnell
Lark Hill winemaker Chris Carpenter in vineyard

Lark Hill winemaker Chris Carpenter on the riesling block: respect the fruit and quality will follow. Photo: Lark Hill.

Arguably the region’s coolest of cool climate wineries, Lark Hill has won a milestone award sure to lift its profile and the status of organic wines.

The popular Bungendore winery’s 2022 reisling, one of the Canberra’s district’s signature varieties, has been judged Best Organic White Wine at the 2023 International Cool Climate Wine Show in Melbourne.

Winemaker Chris Carpenter travelled to Melbourne this week for the presentation of the show’s inaugural trophy in this category.

Mr Carpenter said the win was very exciting for Lark Hill, which has been certified organic for 18 years.

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He said it was an unusually high bar for Lark Hill to face given it normally only entered domestic wine shows.

“We don’t have the judges’ comments yet,” he said. “But a gold medal standard in the trophies is a pretty good indicator that we’ve got something right.”

Mr Carpenter said the wine was made from fruit grown at the Lark Hill Estate’s home vineyard, planted in 1978 on the hills above Bungendore and at 860 metres, one of the highest, coldest and oldest in the Canberra district.

He said 2022’s cool ripening season really suited the riesling, providing pristine, beautiful vibrant fresh flavours and great natural acidity.

“They’re wines that are really refreshing and very focused as young wines and then have long cellar lives,” Mr Carpenter said.

Lark Hill’s oldest surviving vintages were coming up to 20-plus years.

“They are fascinating and continually evolving drinks,” Mr Carpenter said.

His approach to winemaking is led by the vineyard and the fruit, and not interfere too much in the process.

“For me with riesling, the goal is to get out of the way of what the vineyard delivers.

“I try to be as respectful of the fruit as possible and translate what the vineyard delivers into the finished wine.

“Riesling speaks of its place beautifully and too much faffing in the winery can cover over that concept of terroir that you get so beautifully with varieties like riesling.

“First and foremost is to preserve the intensity and purity of the fruit and make sure that shines through.”

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Mr Carpenter said the trophy showed that organic winegrowing was becoming more widespread and popular.

“I’d like to think we’re starting to see a shift in the wine industry to see organic as more mainstream and a default farming style rather than an outlying one.

“Seeing these kinds of trophies come through the show circuit promises a bit of hope in terms of forwarding that cause and getting people seeing organic wines as equally interesting and of high quality.”

Mr Carpenter believed the organic approach added an extra edge of freshness and purity to the wine.

After collecting the trophy, it will be back to preparing for the 2024 growing season.

“Fingers crossed for a year of slightly more moderate growing conditions and as always with vintage, another crack at what nature brings us.”

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on Riotact.

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