O'Leary Walker Polish Hill Riesling 2022

O'Leary Walker Polish Hill Riesling River 2022

Sale price$29.95
Polish Hill River, Clare Valley, South Australia, Australia

Style: White Wine

Variety: Riesling

Closure: Screwcap

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O'Leary Walker Polish Hill Riesling River 2022

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, usually ready in 2-4 days

Burke Road
Camberwell VIC 3124

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Producer: O'Leary Walker

Country: Australia

Region: Clare Valley

Vintage: 2022

Critic Score: 97

Alcohol: 11.5%

Size: 750 ml

Drink by: 2040

Steely, focused and damn fantastic. A brilliant Riesling, the best release that I have seen to date. Bravo - Steve Leszczynski

James Halliday Top 100 Wines of 2022

In 2000, with over 35 years of experience making wine with some of Australia's biggest wine companies, long-time friends David O'Leary and Nick Walker established O'Leary Walker Wines. Not surprisingly, it didn't take long for them to establish a formidable reputation, particularly for their superb Polish Hill River and Watervale Rieslings and a range of classic Clare Valley Shiraz.  

"What an extraordinary wine! Speaks of a great vintage, a great grape variety, and a special bit of dirt high in the Clare Valley where Riesling shines. Alive and vital. A world of citrus awaits on the palate: grapefruit pith, citrus zest, lemony and intense. Polish Hill River is noted for its spice. It's here, wrapped around a steel, minerally, lasting acidity. Taut as a drum but with great depth. Love the mouth-watering pithiness to finish that works the tastebuds, temptingly so. Don't overchill if you are planning to open a bottle soon. Better still, leave it for a little while . . . if you can."  Jeni Port

The Polish Hill fruit is from the Molloy and Martin and Joan Smith vineyards, which are virtually next to each other in Polish Hill River. 2010 marked the first year of NASAA Organic Certification for these vineyards, although the vines have been farmed organically since their planting in the 1970s. The soils are grey loam over sandstone and slate, and it is the slate of Polish Hill River, as opposed to the limestone of Watervale, that gives rise to the point of difference between the two styles. Much of the topsoil is littered with rock and the vines need to be extremely tough to sustain growth and produce high quality fruit. 

Expert reviews

"The twin to the glorious Watervale, as is so often the case with these two Clare Valley sub-regions, the Polish Hill River bottling is the less forthcoming of the pair on release, but it has all the attributes to ensure it is the longer-lived of the pair (although these two will age for so long in a good cellar, that seems irrelevant). The wine is not as expressive as the Watervale at this early stage but that will come. The colour is near crystal clear with the palest hint of sunrise. More steely and taut, this is focused and tight, more reticent at the moment but you know that glories are to follow when this blossoms. Limes, spices, grapefruit and a minerally backing of wet stones. Bright, edgy acidity, incredible length and coiled power. This will sail through twenty years in a good cellar and the score will likely improve. These two wines are compelling evidence as to why the team are considered to make some of the very finest Rieslings in all the land. Drink: 2022-2042."  Ken Gargett, Wine Pilot - 97 points

"Boom! Steely, focused and damn fantastic. A brilliant Riesling, this is the best Polish Hill River release from O'Leary Walker that I have seen to date. Bravo.

From a year that mirrored the outstanding 2002, the fruit is sourced from a certified organic vineyard. That river stone minerally vibe synonymous with this sub-region calls all the shots once again and I just want more. I'd have this with plump oysters or fresh king prawns but I doubt I'd touch either before a glass sinks down the tube. The precision of fruit and brilliantly handled acidity take this up another level. Cut limes and a flash of green apple peel are the heroes. With a proven ability to age, laying a few down wouldn't hurt either. But for now, I'm lapping up the freshness. Drink to ten years+."  Steve Leszczynski, Qwine - 96 points

"What an extraordinary wine! Speaks of a great vintage, a great grape variety, and a special bit of dirt high in the Clare Valley – loam over sandstone and slate – where Riesling shines. Striking scent of lemon blossom, citrus, red apple, orange peel, honey and bergamot. Alive and vital. A world of citrus awaits on the palate: grapefruit pith, citrus zest, lemony and intense. Polish Hill River is noted for its spice. It's here, wrapped around a steel, minerally, lasting acidity. Taut as a drum but with great depth. Love the mouth-watering pithiness to finish that works the tastebuds, temptingly so. Where are freshly shucked oysters when you need them? Don't overchill if you are planning to open a bottle soon, it will promote the youthful, firm acidity and demote the delicate fruits and aromatic spice. Better still, leave it for a little while . . . if you can. Drink: 2022-2036."  Jeni Port, Wine Pilot – 96 points

"A remarkably intense and powerful Riesling from this outstanding season. There's the spicy bath salts on the nose that strike immediately. The palate has a deep minerality with a slightly wet slaty edge adding to the immediate complexity and a very long palate sustained by that crisp and crunchy acid. Like the Watervale, these wines sell for far less than they should. Drink: 2022-2044."  Ray Jordan, Wine Pilot – 96 points

"Vines planted circa 2001, and since 2010 organically grown. It has an evocative bouquet with its mix of citrus and talc; the flavours take shape on the palate, with its extraordinary staying power, the acidity just as it should be. Drink to 2032."  James Halliday, The Weekend Australian - 95 points and Top 100 Wines of 2022

"A tense, detailed Polish Hill River riesling. It's waxy in texture, concentrated with lemon-lime flavours, zinged with tight, bright grapefruit acidity and feels soaked in liquid minerals of crushed granite and quartz-like coolness. It extends beautifully, finishes vivid, crystalline and mouth-watering. Very well done. Pristine, energetic and complex expression. Drink by 2035."  Mike Bennie, Halliday Wine Companion - 93 points and Special Value Wine  ★ 

"Feels so classic Polish Hill. Soapy talc, with that green melon and green banana lime nose. Lovely! So fresh and so delicious and perfectly formed. Maybe not top gold intensity, but it's pretty tasty. Best drinking: right now, or wait a decade. You choose!"  Andrew Graham, Australian Wine Review – 94 points


James Halliday Top 100 Wines of 2022
Special Value Wine – Halliday Wine Companion  ★ 

The vineyards

O'Leary Walker Clare Valley Vineyard

Clare Valley Vineyards

The Clare Valley has a world-renowned reputation for producing elegant Rieslings. We source our fruit from two sub-regions within the Clare Valley, Watervale and the Polish Hill River Valley. The Watervale fruit is from the vineyard of Neil and Heather Grace, which is hand pruned and hand picked. With its classic red loam over limestone soil, the vines have a source of moisture from the limestone to ensure their health through the summer months.

The Polish Hill Valley fruit is from two vineyards which are virtually next-door to each other. Martin and Joan Smith's vineyard is now farmed biodynamically and across the Road is the Molloy's vineyard both of which are excellent examples of the quality this sub-region can produce. The soils are characterized by grey loam over sandstone and slate. The topsoils are littered with rock and shales of slate. The vines are tough to survive in these harsh soils but their fruit bears the characteristics of elegance, finesse and intensity, always with a hint of beautiful chalky bath powder!

Despite only being 9 kilometers from the Watervale sub-region, The Polish Hill River region is quite a bit cooler and typically the fruit ripens 2-3 weeks later. It is the slate of the Polish Hill River as distinct from the limestone of Watervale that creates the differences between the wines.

McLaren Vale Vineyard

We source Shiraz from a 50 plus year old vineyard called “Shadels” at McLaren Vale, owned by Angelo Maglieri and his Family. Angelo and Nick Walker go way back to the early eighties when Nick was a young winemaker at Krondorf, purchasing fruit from these classic vineyards. This relationship has been almost continuous for 30 years! When we first started O'Leary Walker Wines, we needed excellent fruit not just “run of the mill” quality. This vineyard had just come out of contract with Penfolds and was offered to us via our good relationship with Angelo. The soils are shallow loam over ironstone, quite rocky sub soils, well drained and tough. This vineyard has been incorporated in our blend since day one and has the great licorice, chocolate power that is the hallmark of McLaren Vale Shiraz, enhancing the inky, “building block” wines of the Clare Valley.

Adelaide Hills Vineyards

Fruit for our Adelaide Hills Wines is sourced from David and Sue Cherry's (nee O'Leary) Adelaide Hills vineyard and from the adjoining vineyard of Mark and Louise O'Leary, which is the original “Wyebo” property that was purchased by David's Grandfather in 1912. This site was planted in 1990 and selected on the basis of its soil structure, which has large quartz and slate running throughout the sub soils. With a gently sloping, North Easterly aspect, enhanced by elevation, ancient soils and weather patterns, characteristic influences from the Mt Lofty Ranges, this vineyard is a valuable asset to the winemaking at O'Leary Walker.

The Adelaide Hills with its cool climate and long, dry and even ripening season allows the vines to develop maximum varietal characters, producing intensely flavoursome fruit. The Adelaide Hills produces some of Australia's most elegant Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines.

About the winery

O'Leary Walker Wines

Nick Walker and David O'Leary

Prior to establishing O'Leary Walker Wines in 2000, long-time friends David O'Leary and Nick Walker spent twenty-plus vintages working for some of Australia's biggest winemaking companies such as Hardy's and Mildara Blass, and were involved in labels like Annies Lane, Chateau Reynella, Mildara, Krondorf and Yellowglen. The larger companies provided fantastic learning environments and they were privileged to have worked with some of the industry's greats.

The pair established O'Leary Walker Wines with the aim of producing small batches of carefully handcrafted wine from some of the best vineyard sites in South Australia. Initially their principal focus was on the Clare Valley and, not surprisingly, it didn't take long for them to establish a formidable reputation, particularly for their superb Polish Hill River and Watervale Rieslings and a range of classic Clare Valley Shiraz. Thereafter their attention swung to the Adelaide Hills where they now have 35ha of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, shiraz, sauvignon blanc and merlot. The vineyards were certified organic in 2013.

David O'Leary

David began his career in 1977 with the Stanley Wine Company in the Clare Valley, doing a vintage as a lab assistant under Brian Barry. It was during this time that David was introduced to Clare Valley Rieslings, sparking a lifelong passion to achieve greatness with this variety.

David then spent a year with Petaluma and completed a vintage in Tasmania working for Heemskerk Wines before joining Chateau Reynella in 1981. This same year, he also graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College. In September 1982, Thomas Hardy and Sons purchased Chateau Reynella and David was charged with managing juice separation in Padthaway, initiating the exhausting trend of two vintages a year between Waikerie and Padthaway.

David was appointed group red winemaker for Hardy's in 1990 and held that role until joining Mildara Blass in 1994. At Mildara Blass, he held senior winemaking roles at Quelltaller Estate in the Clare Valley where he launched Annie's Lane, and at the Mildara Coonawarra-based Jamieson's Run winery. During his time with Hardy's and Mildara Blass, he also made wine in France and California, furthering his knowledge of the great wines and signature styles of the regions.

David has achieved considerable milestones in his career; a Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1988 and twice International Red Winemaker of the Year (1992 and 1994) sit proudly along with numerous other trophies and gold medals on his mantle.

David's goals remain unchanged: he simply wants to make great wine.

Nick Walker

Nick graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1982 and then followed the footsteps of his father and grandfather to become a third generation winemaker.

Nick's father Norm Walker was Managing Director at Seaview Champagne Cellars for over 22 years. Norm, along with his father Hurtle, has given over 100 years to the winemaking industry, in particular sparkling wine. Nick Walker and David O'Leary honour this family winemaking tradition by naming the O'Leary Walker Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay the 'Hurtle', in recognition of Nick's grandfather and father's achievements.

In 1983 Nick joined the Burge and Wilson team at Krondorf Wines as an assistant winemaker. During this time, he was instrumental in making some of the great Eden Valley Rieslings of the time and had enormous success on the show circuit with his wines.

Nick undertook sparkling winemaking duties in 1998-1999 at Yellowglen and was winemaker and manager at Yarra Ridge in 2000. Overall, he spent over 14 years with the Mildara Blass group, responsible for brands including Krondorf, Yellowglen Sparkling wines, Yarra Ridge, Baileys and St Huberts.

In November 1999, Nick joined forces with good friend David O'Leary to create O'Leary Walker Wines.

His philosophy is pretty simple: make the best wines possible from the best vineyard sites - and leave a little time for fishing.  

Wine region map of South Australia

South Australia

South Australian is responsible for more than half the production of all Australian wine. It is home to more than 900 wineries across 18 wine regions. The regions are Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Plains, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Currency Creek, Eden Valley, Kangaroo Island, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Mount Benson, Mount Gambier, Padthaway, Riverland, Robe, Southern Fleurieu, Southern Flinders Ranges and Wrattonbully.

Many of the well-known names in the South Australian wine industry established their first vineyards in the late 1830s and early 1840s. The first vines in McLaren Vale were planted at Reynella in 1839 and Penfold's established Magill Estate on the outskirts of Adelaide in 1844.

South Australia has a vast diversity in geography and climate which allows the State to be able to produce a range of grape varieties - from cool climate Riesling in the Clare and Eden Vallies to the big, full bodied Shiraz wines of the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Two of Australia's best-known wines, Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace, are produced here. There is much to discover in South Australia for the wine lover.