It’s not always easy to pin down the identity of wines in many New World countries - they’re often a real mix of styles, with plenty of open-minded experimentation and a trial-and-error approach that often leads to fantastic results.
This is something that can definitely be said for Australia’s ever-growing, ever-changing wine industry. While there are certainly flagship grape varietals, and several recognisable characteristics of Australian wine, figuring out exactly what makes it such a special, exciting and dynamic land can be a little tricky.
Despite this, one winery which is fairly confident of its roots is Helm, a family operation based in the Canberra region, and overseen by the impressively moustached Ken Helm and his daughter Stephanie.
Ken and Stephanie are the fourth and fifth generation of Helm family vintners in Australia and come from a long line of winemakers from Germany’s beautiful Rhineland region. Their ancestors traveled down under in the 1860s, and brought their distinctive wine style with them, based around the endlessly fascinating and delicious Riesling grape; one which has done so much to put modern Aussie wine on the map.
To say that Ken Helm is obsessed with Riesling would be something of an understatement (although he also produces an impressive Cabernet) - he regularly hauls his offspring to the Mosel Valley in Germany to gain inspiration, and even hosts an international Riesling competition at which he proudly shows off the best of his cool-climate produce.
With one foot in the Old World, and the other firmly in the New, Helm is a winery which beautifully sums up what the Australian wine scene is all about: learning from the past, adapting time-honoured skills to suit new terroirs, and producing wines which are capable of expressing those terroirs to an astounding level of excellence. Delicious, approachable, and with plenty of class, Helm wines are sure to become firm new favourites.
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