Long before Australia was famous for shiraz and high alcohol, or even livestock wines, it made riesling. And it wasn’t riesling that others would necessarily recognize, but a typically Aussie version: Dry, with what can only be described as a not unpleasant petrol aroma, and some lime fruit. An Australian winemaker once told me that when he toured the States and got homesick, he would buy one of those old-style rieslings, drink it and immediately feel better.

Which brings us to the McWilliam’s (about $10, available at selected Kroger’s and Albertson’s), which was a huge surprise when I tasted it at the beginning of the summer. I expected sweet, cloying riesling, as so many cheap ones are. Instead, I got the classic Australian riesling, and immediately understood how that winemaker felt. (I was also reminded of the most important rule about wine tasting – drink the wine before you judge it.)

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2010 Hall of Fame. Drink this chilled with seafood, a garlicky chicken Caesar salad, or on its own.

After the jump, a few wine notes:

Grapefest, the three-day celebration of Texas wine, is in Grapevine this weekend. I’ll be speaking at 12:15 p.m. on Friday in the culinary pacillion, offering a few insights on Texas wine and what to look for in this year’s People’s Choice competition.

• The Wine Garden returns for the third consecutive year at the State Fair of Texas, which starts a week from Friday. I’ll be there with fellow wine gurus John Bratcher and Dan Peabody to offer our daily Wine 101 class. New this year: Texas Wine 101, which will be the first talk each day.

• Texas Wine Month begins Sept. 28 and runs through October. It starts with the department of agriculture’s GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-up, which runs Sept. 28-Oct. 2.