Australian Ben Riggs is the rock-star winemaker behind wines from Shoofly, Mr. Riggs and Woop Woop. With 25 years of wine making under his belt at wineries spanning the globe from Australia to Napa Valley, this iconic winemaker stands head-and-shoulders above the rest – and not just because he’s a towering 6’5″.
Stellar Wines from Australia’s Best
Ben Riggs’ wines are show stealers, winning awards and critical acclaim. As winemaker at Shoofly, Ben’s mission is admirable – no flabby wines, no raisins and leave the oak for the trees! No jammy wines, no syrupy ‘dead fruit” wines. Only fleshy, balanced wines bursting with vibrant, delicious fruit. He and his team are adamant – never, never choke on oak!
Ben says he likes wines that are big, rich and complex, but also with finesse, texture and elegance, with the latter not necessarily being a trait he possesses. We had a hard time choosing which of his wines to feature as a deal on LetsPour, and ended up settling on the 2008 Shoofly Buzz Cut, a uniquely exotic white blend of Riesling, Viognier, Verdejo, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
A Passion for Blending
Wine journalist and Master of Wine Debra Meiburg spent some time with Ben, getting the lowdown on why McLaren Vale is considered the middle palate of Australia. Ben talked about his experiences in Europe as one of the first flying winemakers and revealed that blending is the element of winemaking he feels most passionately about.
More than a Winemaker
Ben is more than just a winemaker. His passion extends to viticulture – he owns and runs ‘Piebald Gully’ vineyard near Kangarilla. According to Australia Plus, Ben’s love for the land and its fruits comes from his great-great-great Grandfather John ‘The Gaffer’ Riggs – known throughout the state in the late 1800s for his agricultural prowess. One of the secrets behind Ben’s wines is the fact that this guy knows his grapes and he’s forged relationships with Australia’s top grape growers. Other winemakers would die for his roster of grape growers. Ben sources his Shiraz and Grenache from the Barossa Valley (some of the oldest vines in the world, according to Shoofly). Grapes for his white wines are sourced primarily from Langhorne Creek, a “cool dessert” situated on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, and Adelaide Hills perched high up in the Mount Lofty Ranges.