Prince Wine Store Review by Michael McNamara
Let’s start with a simple wine buying equation.
Neil Pike is one of Australia’s greatest makers of Clare riesling.
In early 2020 Neil sells his share of Pikes to brother Andrew.
A few weeks ago Pikey rings and says he’s got this new riesling under a new label called Limefinger. It’s off an old-vine vineyard in Watervale (St Clair’s Honey Block) and from the brilliant 2020 Clare vintage. Not much made and would I like to buy any?
At this point, let’s recap. Neil Pike + Clare Riesling + limited quantity + 2020 vintage = It’s a no brainer and how much can we have?
So, notwithstanding a slightly ropey name, we went long on the wine. This is Neil’s new project and a return to his first love of making some of the Clare’s, ergo Australia’s, greatest riesling. A growing wine business had robbed him of that and replaced it with endless meetings and staff to look after but now he’s back doing what he loves and results speak for themselves.
The wine is typical Neil Pike. Built on the cool 2020 vintage (something he says is exactly what is required to make great rizza) sporting classic aromatics of citrus, flint and stoney minerality. Its initial elegance and restraint are deceptive as the palate is filigreed but long and intense with a good lick of rapier acidity running down its back.
For me, it’s a no brainer and the wine is already in my own cellar. I reckon it’s got the structure and compressed fruit to gradually unwind over a decade at least. Only 230 cases produced.
Valley Magazine Review by Nick Ryan
2020 Limefinger “The Learnings” Watervale Riesling. They say old winemakers don’t retire, they just take longer lunches. That may well be true of local legend Neil Pike bit those who have always admired his delicate touch with Riesling are pleased he’s keeping his hand in here. Abundant Watervale florals on the nose, a beautifully pure and crystalline palate crackling with bath salts and lime zest. A new Classic.
The Real Review by Huon Hooke
Pale colour. Shy and reserved, the aromas youthfully fresh, primal but intriguing, with spice notes that suggest cinnamon and clove, plus baked lemon pudding and creamy yeast notes. Not very floral or aromatic at this stage. The palate is refined and tense, powerful yet reserved, tensioned and long. It’s closed and needs time. The balance is dry and potential is high. 93/100 points.
The Real Review by Ralph Kyte-Powell
It’s pale, almost colourless in fact, and the nose is subdued and subtle with zesty lime aromas and a savoury, slatey overlay. It’s clean and piercing in the mouth, very dry and varietally pure, with great length and presence. Ideally, it needs time in the bottle to shake off its youth and build extra dimensions, but it looks like a classic in the making. 95/100 points.
James Suckling Review by Nick Stock
This is Neil Pike’s first foray into winemaking, after selling out of the family wine business in 2019. It’s a parcel from a Watervale vineyard and delivers expressive florals and lime aromas, ahead of a cleverly tuned palate that has crisp, powerful and concentrated lime and mineral flavors, with thrilling acidity and smooth-honed texure. A great riesling. Drink or hold. Screw cap. 5 stars – 96 points.
d’Or to Door Wines Direct Review by Jeremy Holmes
After a short period of retirement Neil Pike couldn’t help himself and has just bottled a fantastic new Riesling. The 2020 Limefinger ‘The Learnings’ Watervale Riesling is off an outstanding Watervale block with East West orientation. The wine is so pure, with intense citrus blossom and powdered lime notes. It has an almost rainwater-like clarity and gentle talciness. It is fine, direct and possesses great persistence.
Winepilot Review by Ken Gargett
Neil Pike made a name for himself at the eponymous winery in the Clare Valley, most notably for his scintillating Rieslings. After early retirement, it did not take long before Neil found himself back in the saddle, sourcing fruit from a favourite Watervale vineyard. The result is the first wine for a new label, ‘Limefinger’. A cracking effort from what might be considered not the finest vintage the region has ever seen.
The old master has not lost his touch. It is fine, lean, focused and well balanced. Steely backbone with citrus notes, lime and grapefruit. Excellent length and finely balanced. Everything suggests an exciting future, for this wine and the new operation. 95 points.
Gourmet on the Road Review by Winsor Dobbin
What do you do when you retire from the family business after 40 years of crafting fine wines – particularly riesling. If you are Neil Pike you start your own wine label, and relax by spending some time in the kitchen.
Pike retired from the family Clare Valley winery last year but has now started his own label: Limefinger, with a 2020 riesling grown just a couple of minutes from Watervale Township.
The Limefinger 2020 The Learnings Riesling was made in tiny quantities – just 3,000 bottles – and retails for $37.50. “After 40+ vintages working in the Clare Valley/Watervale one learns a few things along the way,” Pike says. “It has been a privilege to be able to apply those learnings to such a gorgeous parcel of fruit.”
Pike has also been cooking up a storm, including crafting some Limefinger lemon/lime oil pickle that he recommends using when cooking chicken. Paired with riesling, of course.
The Wine Front Review by Gary Walsh
This is Neil Pike’s ‘retirement project’ with just under 3,000 bottles produced. Limefinger, he’s the man. The main with the limey touch. It’s quite exotic with perfume of lemongrass and kaffir lime, and lime and green apple flavour. It’s not hard or wince-inducing in style, with softness and good flavour delivered in a gentle, but still firm style. Fresh, blossomy and limey on a long chalky finish. A lovely drink. So much charm and appeal. Easy to love. Rated: 94 points.