The 2011 Mr. Riggs Montepulciano d’Adelaide Hills is an exclusive offering to The International Wine of the Month Club which we’re importing from Australia especially for you, our members. It sports a bright crimson and purple robe that immediately catches the eye. And with one sniff, the nose is smitten as well. This rare, very limited edition Montepulciano from Mr. Riggs offers a savory aroma full of red and black fruits, dried herbs, roses, and a pleasant touch of eucalyptus. Even more exciting is the wine’s palate profile, which grows continuously as the wine airs, revealing the wine’s alluring olfactory in the mouth in the form of rich raspberry and blackberry fruits, rose petals, black pepper, and eucalyptus oil. Although still quite youthful, the 2011 Mr. Riggs Montepulciano d’Adelaide Hills exhibits smooth tannins and a velvety richness that make it delicious to drink now. We suggest allowing this beautiful rendition of Montepulciano at least thirty minutes of aeration before consuming at cool room temperature (no more than 65° F). It can also be cellared for an additional four or five more years.
Mr. Riggs’ intriguing 2011 Montepulciano d’Adelaide Hills offers a unique opportunity to taste a limited production wine that makes a strong case for cultivating traditional Italian varietals in Australia. And as several tasting panel members aptly dubbed the 2011 Mr. Riggs’ Montepulciano “Where Italy Meets Australia,” regional Italian food specialties certainly make excellent accompaniments to Mr. Riggs’ unique offering. For starters, consider pairing the Mr. Riggs’ Montepulciano with Cream of Tomato Basil Soup topped off with basil/pesto butter. The savory notes in the wine complement both the herbal and tomato components of the soup. Spaghetti Bolognese made with tender veal, fresh herbs and a touch of cream also sets our mouths watering. Agnolotti, a delicious cheese filled pasta, provides another tasty accompaniment. It can be served with a tomato or mushroom based sauce and served as either a first or main course. Grilled meats, sweetbreads, and sautéed vegetables can all be added as desired. Gnocchi, served with braised veal, porcini mushrooms and plenty of Pecorino cheese, provides another fine companion to this Mr. Riggs, but then almost any savory meat or vegetable dish will complement the Mr. Riggs Montepulciano from the Adelaide Hills. Buon Appetito!
Mr. Riggs is Ben Riggs, former winemaker for Wirra Wirra in South Australia’s McLaren Vale and travel-ing consultant to wineries around the world. Ben has consulted for wineries in California, France, Greece, and Italy. In Italy, Ben learned a great deal about Italian varietals such as Montepulciano working with win-eries in Abbruzzo, Marches, Puglia, and Tuscany. He also continues to consult for local Australian wineries, including Pertaringa, Geoff Hardy, the highly esteemed Tatiarra wines and many others. Ben’s specialty is what he refers to as “the grape to plate approach,” whereby he conducts vineyard inspections, sources the fruit, makes the wine, and even works with wine journalists, restaurants and retailers to bring his wine to consumers. This is all on top of owning his own winery and vineyard, dubbed Mr. Riggs, a moniker Ben likes to say came about when he outgrew his dad (the previous Mr. Riggs). Ben is quick to add that “Mr. Riggs [is], a title I would prefer to not outgrow.”
At Mr. Riggs, Ben’s great delight is fashioning limited productions of vineyard specific wines, which en-sures both high quality and a certain exclusivity. The high quality is noted in the awards and ratings Ben re-ceives for his wines, including many 90+ ratings for this month’s feature, the 2011 Montepulciano d’Adelaide Hills. With the exception of the Mr. Riggs Piebald Syrah and The Gaffer Shiraz, all of Ben Riggs’ offerings, including the 2011 Montepulciano d’Adelaide Hills,” are made in very limited quantities ranging from 250-1,000 cases, at most. Mr. Riggs’ vineyard is located in Kangarilla, at the very edge of the McLaren Vale. The estate’s vineyard is devoted to several grape varieties, all of them hand tended and ex-tremely low yielding.
The Adelaide Hills lie just thirty minutes east of the city of Adelaide in the state of South Australia. The ar-ea stretches from the Barossa in the north to the Kuitpo Forest to the south. The green hills of Adelaide form part of the Mount Lofty Ranges, which on account of their altitude and proximity to the sea make the area one of the coolest on mainland Australia. Moreover, these hills provide the ideal climate for the cultivation of the vine. The Adelaide Hills experience warm days and especially cool nights, which afford the region’s grapes long hang times on the vine in which to build aroma and flavor, yet still retain freshness and balance.
In addition to being home to many of South Australia’s leading wineries and dozens of grape varieties, the Adelaide Hills serve as an important weekend and vacation destination for the inhabitants of South Austra-lia. The area is rich in history, excellent restaurants, comfortable bed and breakfasts, and exceptional walk-ing trails. If the Adelaide Hills sound like a good place to take a wine holiday, trust me, they are.
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