The Thursday Tipple – Helm 2011 Classic Dry Riesling

by C.A. Bonham

Well, Riesling. I like you and I know you like me too. But I need to tell everyone.. I want to scream it from the top of a mountain and then roll down said mountain with you. And we’ll laugh. Oh how we’ll laugh. And we might kiss a little too if that’s ok, Riesling? I hope it is…

Sorry, we get a little carried away.

What are we talking about?

Riesling is gorgeous; it’s stunning. Whilst many people needing a glass of white wine go straight to Cougar Juice (aka, Sauvignon Blanc), our hearts desire is Riesling. Let’s face it, before too long the Canberra region will almost OWN Riesling as a varietal. Well, perhaps that’s a little presumptuous and egotistical – however we are certainly at a point in the Canberra wine region where we can hang our hat and feel proud.

From Mount Majura to Brindabella Hills to Lerida Estate to Eden Road… there is SO much quality Riesling to choose from; and as we come into this gorgeous Canberra Spring & Summer, you need Riesling. So if you’re going to make friends with Riesling, you may as well go to Canberra’s Grandfather of Riesling, Ken Helm.

Ken Helm is great fun. As soon as you arrive at Helm Wines in Murrumbateman and step into Ken’s cellar door (which is in fact an old school classroom) you know it’s not like any other vineyard – and Ken certainly isn’t like any other winemaker! We have been to Ken’s cellar door numerous times and talked with him about all things, only some of which include wine. From his time as an entomologist with the CSIRO to being the Mayor of Yass to his battles with the Yass Council as he planted his first vines in what was traditionally ‘Sheep Country’, you’re always going to get a story.

But what about the wine?

Helm Wines have pioneered Riesling in our region since 1973 and his Classic Dry Riesling has year after year been at the top of the tops. It’s crisp, it’s clean, with stunning lime length and fresh, balanced acid. A gorgeous golden-yellow colour has just the slightest green tinge. When you drink this wine, you are being given a lesson in ‘Riesling that does everything’. You might have bought the wine, but it’s in charge; and whilst Ken will likely rattle off a phrase such as ‘not a bad bit of booze, is it?’ – you know you are drinking something very complex. A very special wine.

I really like you, Riesling.

Where can I get it?

You really need to go to Helm Wines’ cellar door. There’s not many winery-experiences like chatting to Ken Helm. Otherwise, you can purchase online, from various bottle shops and you will also find Helm Wines at various restaurants in the Canberra region.