Rieslingfreak is the story of John Hughes, a man whose deep, abiding passion is Riesling. John started his own label in 2009 with the release of a Clare Valley Riesling. The number of Rieslings he produces has grown to 17 (not all of them are made in each vintage). The fruit for the Rieslingfreak collection is sourced from three regions; Clare Valley, Eden Valley and Polish Hill River. They are also made in a number of styles; dry, off-dry, Kabinett, fortified and sparkling. All the Rieslingfreak wines show exquisite purity and elegance and are among the very best examples that South Australia, and indeed Australia, has to offer.
"Lifted jasmine-like scented aromas, lots of tropical flowers, passionfruit too, the sweetness lifting the fruit, and the early-harvested effect giving a different spectrum of fruit aromas, not unripe but greener, more heightened. Very high acidity, the sweetness beautifully judged to balance the acidity, which you really don't feel. An extraordinary wine that is beautiful now and will only be more so in the future." Huon Hooke
"Rieslingfreak No.8 is harvested from the Polish Hill River vineyard. Schatzkammer is a German word meaning ' Treasure Chamber'. This is where German Winemakers store their treasured wines. The No.8 is made in a German Kabinett style. Due to European labelling laws, we are not legally allowed to use the word 'Kabinett' on wine labels. Therefore, I have used the work Schatzkammer, a play on the word Kabinett, and it is my treasured wine! Harvested early in the season, the wine is low in alcohol. Made in a sweet Kabinett style, the wine also retains great amounts of acid, balancing out the sweetness and fruit perfectly.
With an abundance of natural acidity in the grapes, 2023 makes for an exciting vintage for our iconic “Schatzkammer” Riesling. The bouquet is sweetly scented with aromas of orange sherbet, passionfruit, grapefruit, jasmine and honeysuckle, which carry through onto the lusciously flavoured palate. This wine is low in alcohol with a finely-tuned balance of succulent residual sweetness and tangy natural acidity. The acid drives the length of the palate to a clean, crisp finish - the ultimate hallmark of the very best examples of this unique style of Riesling." Rieslingfreak
"Ultra-pale, almost water-white in the glass. Night jasmine, mango and oyster shell aromatics. The palate pops immediately with an intense blast of both tight citrus and exotic tropical fruits. Salty minerality vies with floral notes and it all builds power and intensity as it rolls along. Acidity is there throughout to match the sweetness and it all stays in remarkable harmony. Medium-sweet but still so very well balanced. A fantastic wine that demands respect. I can only begin to imagine how beautifully this will age. Date: Nov 2023; Alcohol: 8%; Price: $37.00; Drink: 2023-2043." Stuart Knox, The Real Review – 98 points
"An exceptional wine with the abundant natural acidity balanced beautifully by the slight sweetness. Oodles of pristine fruit. Simply gorgeous. I paired it with a warm beef chilli salad - perfect!" Nick Munday, Canterbury Wines - 97+ points and Special Value Wine ★
"Pale, water-white appearance; lifted jasmine-like scented aromas, lots of tropical flowers, passionfruit too, the sweetness lifting the fruit, and the early-harvested effect giving a different spectrum of fruit aromas, not unripe but greener, more heightened. Very high acidity, the sweetness beautifully judged to balance the acidity, which you really don't feel. An extraordinary wine that is beautiful now and will only be more so in the future. (Grapes harvested at 9.4 degrees Baumé. 38 grams/litre residual sugar, 10.2 g/l acidity). Drink: 2024-2038." Huon Hooke, The Real Review – 97 points
Special Value Wine – Canterbury Wines ★
Rieslingfreak No 1 Grounds of Grandeur Riesling
Grounds of Grandeur pays respect to both the vineyard and the grower of the Riesling. Made from a single vineyard, Rieslingfreak No.1 is only made in exceptional vintages, when both climatic conditions and vineyard expressions are superior. The 2017 vintage is grown by Richard and Anne Hughes at White Hutt.
Rieslingfreak No 2 Polish Hill River Riesling
Rieslingfreak No.2 is a dry Riesling, showcasing many of the refinements typical of the Polish Hill River. The limestone and shale rock soil profile are reflected in the wine with mineral and slate notes, green apple flavours, and underlying green citrus characters, predominantly lemons and grapefruit. Wines from this vineyard can be consumed upon release, or cellared for many years.
Rieslingfreak No 3 Clare Valley Riesling
Made from the family vineyard, White Hutt, Clare Valley. The heavy red clay soils contribute to the fruit intensity of this wine. No.3 is a fruit driven style of Riesling. Classic flavours of this vineyard include ripe lemon and limes and some melon and tropical fruit notes. The Riesling drinks well young, but will also reward with cellaring.
Rieslingfreak No 4 Eden Valley Riesling
Eden Valley Rieslings often showcase delicacy and refinement. Rieslingfreak No.4 typically demonstrates this, by the wine showing aromas of citrus and white blossom, with flavours of brown limes and lemons, with a background of sweet spice. The wine drinks well young, but will reward with cellaring.
Rieslingfreak No 5 Clare Valley Off Dry Riesling
Rieslingfreak No.5, like No.3 is made from the family vineyard, but with the grapes harvested from a vineyard with lighter soils therefore providing a lighter style of wine. The grapes are harvested earlier in the season, to provide a wine that is slightly less in alcohol. Being 'off dry' the sugar level can vary each vintage, pending on the season, normally between 11-15g/L. The sugar is balanced nicely with the acid, providing a fruit driven style with a hint of sweetness. The wine drinks well on release or will reward with cellaring.
Rieslingfreak No 6 Clare Valley Aged Release Riesling
Made from the family vineyard, White Hutt, Clare Valley. Harvested from the same block as the No.5, the wine is fermented dry, and made in a style that will allow the wine to cellar for many years. The wine is bottled in the same year of vintage, and then cellared, being released at 5 years of age. This careful cellaring slowly develops the wine to show notes of butter, toast and ripe citrus flavours. The wine is intended for enjoyment upon release, but will also reward with further cellaring.
Rieslingfreak No 7 Clare Valley Fortified Riesling
Made from the family vineyards, White Hutt, Clare Valley. Harvested at the same time as Rieslingfreak No.3. The juice is only partially fermented to 7-8 Baume (approx. 140g/L sugar) and then fortified using a combination of 3-year-old brandy spirit and neutral spirit. The wine is then stored in old oak casks to develop for 2 to 4 years, prior to bottling. The wine looks similar to a white port, whilst still retaining the Riesling aromatics and flavours.
Rieslingfreak No 8 Polish Hill River Schatzkammer Riesling
Rieslingfreak No.8 is harvested from the Polish Hill River vineyard. Schatzkammer is a German word meaning ' Treasure Chamber'. This is where German Winemakers store their treasured wines. The No.8 is made in a German Kabinett style. Due to European labelling laws, we are not legally allowed to use the word 'Kabinett' on wine labels. Therefore, I have used the work Schatzkammer, a play on the word Kabinett, and it is my treasured wine! Harvested early in the season, the wine is low in alcohol. Made in a sweet Kabinett style, the wine also retains great amounts of acid, balancing out the sweetness and fruit perfectly.
Rieslingfreak No 9 Clare Valley Sekt Riesling
Rieslingfreak No.9 is made from the family vineyards, but with the fruit selected from the coolest site that experiences slow ripening, with high natural acidity. Rieslingfreak No.9 Sekt Riesling is made in Méthode Traditionelle style, from grapes harvested early and fermented dry. The wine is then left on lees for a short period of time to develop complex flavours. The wine then undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle. The wine is stored on yeast lees, cellared for a period of time, normally around 30 to 36 months, prior to dégorgement and prepared for sale. The wine is a dry style, which shows good Riesling aromatics together with yeasty notes developed from aging on lees.
Rieslingfreak No 10 Zenit Riesling
Rieslingfreak No.10 is a blend of vineyards and regions. Originating in 2017, Rieslingfreak No.10 was discovered by chance. This wine was originally created by John and Belinda as their 'wedding wine', intended to be a small batch to be served exclusively on their special day. Without constraints of region or style, they discovered a multi-regional blend was their wine of choice, and this bespoke wedding blend held a serious 'wow' factor for them both! After drinking a bottle, Belinda came up with the idea of sharing this wine with the world as Rieslingfreak No.10. This love child of the Rieslingfreak winemakers is our ultimate multi-regional blend that captures the very essence of the vintage and is considered to be the lovers' definitive expression of Riesling.
Rieslingfreak No 11 Mosaik Riesling
Brand new to the Rieslingfreak stable, Rieslingfreak No.11 is our 'Mosaik' (Mosaic) – a unique take on Riesling which like the traditional artform, brings together a collection of pieces that don't seem to fit together, but in the hands of a master craftsman create a true work of art. Mosaic brings together the elegance of Eden Valley Riesling, the exotic funk of wild-type yeast strains, and the supple phenolics and subtle spice of old French Oak barrels to create a complex masterpiece of flavour and texture. Aromas of Thai pandan custard and aged Asiago cheese are complemented by the rich fruit flavours of ripe lychee and pineapple, zesty lime cordial and dried mint; all drawn together by a decadently creamy mid-palate and finishing with crisp, driving acidity. A quirky spin on Riesling that will certainly take you for a walk on the wild side!
Rieslingfreak No 12 Flaxman Valley Riesling
No.12 is harvested from individually selected vines from the Mason and Zander family vineyards in Flaxman Valley in High Eden, a premium sub-region of Eden Valley. Renowned for growing world-class Riesling of unrivalled elegance, this wine captures the very essence of the Flaxman Valley subregion in all its splendour. This wine is exceptionally delicate and refined, showcasing the delicate floral aromatics and mineral driven palate for which High Eden is so renowned. A refined and elegant style of Riesling that will drink beautifully in its youth but will certainly reward patient cellaring.
Rieslingfreak No 33 Clare Valley Growers Riesling
Rieslingfreak No.33 incorporates both our growers in the Clare Valley. Richard and Anne Hughes (John's Parents) and Robert and Lyn Jaeschke from Polish Hill River. Situated on the flats in the middle of a valley, White Hutt vineyard has its own very unique microclimate. The vineyard is planted on heavy loam and red terra rossa soil, with limestone subsoil. It is situated 500m above sea level, with an average rainfall of 550mm. The heavy red soils in the vineyard contribute to the fruit generosity seen in this wine. The Polish Hill River in the wine provides the wine with an acid profile and drive. The wine is made in a generous and refreshing fruit driven style with a soft, velvety palate of exceptional length. It has classic flavors of ripe lemon and lime and some tropical fruit notes. It drinks well young, but will also reward with cellaring.
Rieslingfreak No 34 Tale of Two Valleys
Tale of Two Valleys is a blend of Clare and Eden Valley Riesling. Clare Valley Riesling for its generous floral aromatics and rich flavour, and Eden Valley Riesling for its backbone of fine and refreshing acidity. The Clare Valley really shines through with the generosity of floral notes and the depth of flavour. The complexity of pear and white stone fruit shows the generosity of Clare. Eden Valley provides the sweet spice and acid backbone to the Riesling.
Rieslingfreak No 44 Eden Valley Riesling
Fruit for this Eden Valley Riesling is sourced from three different vineyards situated between Eden Valley and Flaxman's Valley. The two vineyards in Flaxman Valley belong to Ben Zander and Michael Mason. Milton Tscharke has a small vineyard situated in the heart of the Eden Valley. The vineyards are situated approximately 500m above sea level, and have an average yearly rainfall of 650mm. The soils vary from shallow grey sandy loam over shale rock, to loam soil over light medium clay, with high quartz rock and gravel content. Each vineyard contributes something different to the wine. Eden Valley Rieslings often showcase delicacy and refinement. Rieslingfreak No.44 typically demonstrates this, with aromas of citrus, talcum powder and white blossom, and flavors of lime and lemon, with a background of sweet spice. The wine drinks well young, but will reward with cellaring.
Rieslingfreak No 55 Clare Valley Growers Off Dry Riesling
Rieslingfreak No.55 is a showcase of our Clare Valley vineyards; our family vineyard from White Hutt, and the Jaeschke family from Polish Hill River. This wine is an off-dry expression of the finely balanced compatibility between the inherent richness and generosity of the fruit from the family vineyard in White Hutt, and the lean, mineral-driven elegance of the fruit from Polish Hill River. The natural sweetness of this off-dry style adds an unctuous richness to the mid-palate, while the driving natural acidity imparts a crisp, clean finish. A wine of immediate appeal and absolute approachability, this wine is poised for ultimate enjoyment on release and complements a variety of cuisines.
Rieslingfreak No 99 Out of Square Riesling
Rieslingfreak No.99 'Out of the Square' Riesling is my 'playground' Riesling. The label No.99 allows me to experimentation with grape growing and winemaking. No.99 is all about trying something different and finding an alternative way of expressing the Riesling grape. The success of the wine will determine if the wine is allocated a 'real' number in the Rieslingfreak collection. The 2019 was fermented with wild-type "Exotic” yeast strains for maximum funk and texture. The wine was then stored in large format oak for 12 months, creating a stark counterpoint to the usual finesse and fruit-forward purity of Clare Valley Riesling.
Clare Valley Vineyard (No.3, No.5, No.6, No.7, No.9, No.33)
Our Clare Valley vineyard is situated in White Hutt and is my family vineyard, owned by Richard and Anne Hughes. This is approximately 5.8 kms north of the Clare township, and is situated 500m above sea level. On our Clare Valley property, we have five different Riesling sites. Each site has a different soil profile, and we use multiple clones on the sites. The majority of the sites have deep red clay, over limestone, providing a fruit-driven style of Riesling. There is a different vineyard site for the No.5 which is made in the 'off dry' style. This site has shale grey soils over limestone. This is a compaction of silt and clay, providing a lighter soil that results in a delicate Riesling that is perfect for the 'off dry' style.
Polish Hill River Vineyard (No.2, No.8)
Our Polish Hill River vineyard is owned by Robert and Lyn Jaeschke. This vineyard was originally owned by Penfolds before Lyn and Robert purchased the vineyard in 2010. The vineyard is 4.7km southeast of the Clare township and is situated in the heart of the Polish Hill River. The vineyard is planted 460m above sea level and attracts an average of 625mm of rain each year. Planted on grey loam over sandy limestone and shale rock, these vines produce tight Rieslings, often with green apples and citrus, and a tight acid.
Eden Valley Vineyards (No.4, No.12, No.44)
Fruit for our Eden Valley Riesling is sourced from four vineyards located across the Southern Ranges of Eden Valley from Flaxman Valley in High Eden to the east, through to Springton in the west.
Two of our vineyards are located in Flaxman Valley in High Eden, a premium sub-region of Eden Valley. The first vineyard, owned by Michael Mason, is situated approximately 3kms northwest of the Eden Valley township. This vineyard is planted on shallow grey sandy loam over shale rock and is situated 450m above sea level. The average yearly rainfall is 700mm. Close by is the second vineyard we source fruit from that is owned by Ben Zander. Ben is second generation and is well known for growing Eden Valley Riesling. This vineyard is planted in loam soil over light medium clay, with high quartz rock and gravel content. Situated 500m above sea level, the vineyard has a rainfall of approximately 650mm per year.
The third vineyard we source fruit from is owned by Mark Bartholomaeus and is situated in the heart of the Eden Valley township. The vines are over 65 years old and are among the oldest plantings of Riesling in the area. These old vines produce wines with intense flavour and exceptional natural acidity.
Our fourth vineyard is Avon Brae, located on the outskirts of Springton. With several blocks of Riesling planted on a variety of soils and aspects, this vineyard produces wines ranging from lean and elegant to rich and full-flavoured. Situated in the South-Western ranges of Eden Valley adjacent to the Adelaide Hills, the cooler temperatures and higher rainfall in this area lead to extended ripening periods compared to the rest of the region.
Rieslingfreak is the story of John Hughes, a man whose deep, abiding passion is Riesling. John earned the nickname 'Riesling Freak' during his university days as it was always his beverage of choice, so when he started his own label, there was really only one thing he could call it.
John grew up on an old Riesling vineyard in his home in the Clare Valley. John shared many bottles of aged Clare Valley Rieslings with his father Richard, which kindled his love for the grape. In 1998, the family purchased a vineyard in White Hut, just north of the Clare township, and John's future was sealed.
John spent 10 years working at the Australian Wine Research Institute, gaining valuable experience in technical winemaking, while also studying at Adelaide University. Upon completion of his studies, John travelled through the wine regions of France and Italy to expand his global knowledge of wine. Upon returning to South Australia, John took on the role of Production Winemaker for a renowned Barossa winery.
John started his own label in 2009 with the release of a Clare Valley Riesling. The number of Rieslings he produces has grown to 17 (not all of them are made in each vintage). The fruit for the Rieslingfreak collection is sourced from three regions; Clare Valley, Eden Valley and Polish Hill River. They are also made in a number of styles; dry, off-dry, Kabinett, fortified and sparkling.
Each of the Rieslings has a number, and that number represents both the region where the grape is grown and the style of the Riesling. "When I started, other winemakers told me that I should be putting the region on the front label," says Hughes. "But I was resolute: I liked the way Penfolds had developed a following for its wines, how people knew what to expect when they bought a Bin 28 or a Bin 389. And I'm glad I stuck to my guns, because people now ask me for my No. 2, or my No. 3. They know what to expect."
All the Rieslingfreak wines show exquisite purity and elegance and are among the very best examples that South Australia, and indeed Australia, has to offer.
"The philosophy of Rieslingfreak is to provide Riesling enthusiasts with the finest expressions of the variety, representative of different regions and styles. Most of our Rieslings are harvested by machine, in the cool of the night and arrive at the winery early morning for processing. Unlike most Riesling producers, we do not press our Rieslings. We use a 'spin and drain' method with the grapes to ensure the berries are treated very softly, whilst maintaining the purity of the juice.
With Riesling winemaking, there are three key elements that require the upmost detail and attention. These are fruit, acid, and sweetness. We see it as our job, as Riesling winemakers, we believe our role is to always deliver a 'balanced' Riesling that harmoniously combines these three elements. As growing conditions vary from year to year, it is our job to adapt to the conditions, and produce wines that highlight the best characteristics of each vintage. It is for this reason that we are unable to use numbers to steer the decision making. We rely on the sense of taste, both in the vineyard and winery, to deliver a balanced Riesling that is true to style.
To create a great Riesling, we start in the vineyard with the fruit, looking for ripening, and concentration of flavours. With the juice, we evaluate the acid and adjust if needed, to ensure we have great length and raciness. The juice is fermented using modern processing methods, including juice inoculation, and the use of cultured yeast. There is much debate over 'wild' yeast and 'cultured' yeast, however we choose to use cultured yeast, for two reasons. The first being that we seek continuity of our wines from year to year, only displaying vintage differences. We also want to show you true example of region and style. We believe the use of cultured yeast has a big role in this part of the winemaking process.
As the wine ends fermentation, we ensure sufficient sweetness and acid is achieved that compliments the fruit profile of the Riesling." Rieslingfreak
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.