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Dry River 2017 Spring Release Tasting


02-Sep-2017
Sarah Bartlett - Marketing and Communications

The Dry River 2017 Spring Release tasting was a departure from how the release was held in the past, where tastings were put on in the main centres around the country. The Dry River team only conducted one event, and that was held at the winery in Martinborough. The release offered three new wines, the 2015 Tempranillo, 2016 Chardonnay and 2017 ‘Selection’ Riesling for tasting. Attendees could also sample the as-yet-bottled 2016 Pinot Noir. The other reason for the departure was the holding of a recorking clinic, which could only be done at the winery.

The recorking innovation was conducted very much along the lines of how Penfolds do theirs in Australia and around the world. Collectors of Dry River wines could bring their bottles from vintage 2007 and older for checking, using the ‘Coravin’ sampling system. Any ullaged bottles requiring topping up were done so with the new vintage of the same wine. All bottles tested were sealed with a new upgraded cork used by Dry River since 2011. Any bottles deemed cork-tainted were replaced. Sarah Bartlett, Dry River’s marketing and communications manager reported that there were only two bottles corked from near 100 bottles assessed. All recorked bottles had a recorking certification sticker attached. www.dryriver.co.nz
Michelle Mills - Vineyard (15 years!)
Tasting the Wines
Although there were only four wines for tasting, they were very interesting, showing the continued progress that Wilco Lam is making with style development, and also the nature of the growing seasons. It was also a good opportunity of meeting some of the other staff at Dry River. Here are my notes on the wines, as in the order served. The prices are from the mail order offer.

Dry River Martinborough Chardonnay 2016 
Wilco has signalled his intent to introduce more complexity into this wine, moving it away from the lighter, more pure and floral style, which still has a sense of beauty, into a wine of greater richness, weight and interest. I believe he is succeeding.
Even, light straw-yellow colour with some depth. The nose is refined with a firm and elegant concentration, showing lovely melded aromas of stonefruit and citrus fruit with complexing nutty lees and oak, along with creamy barrel-ferment elements. There is still some pure white florality to the aromatics. Stylishly rich on the palate, but retaining elegance, the flavours of stonefruits and nuts show complexing savoury nuances. The mouthfeel is soft and refined, and the wine flows positively with the acidity providing energy. Lovely nutty lees nuances show here. A wine that has more presence and a complete roundness. Barrel fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 15 months on lees. 19.0-/20 Sep 2017 RRP $55.00

Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016 Barrel Sample 
The 2016 wine does not have the concentration and depth of the 2015 from a very low yielding vintage. However 2016 is the fourth in a consecutive run of favourable growing seasons. Each year different and with their own challenges, but nevertheless good years.
Deepish ruby-red with slight purple hues. This has an elegantly presented nose, still a little shy, but with good ripeness, showing dark berry and cherry fruit, with hints of plums, unfolding subtle whole bunch herb and stalk perfumes, along with some aromatic and nutty oak. This grows in depth with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied, but possesses good depth and concentration, showing ripe cherry, berry and plum fruit. This has sweetness and lusciousness, and is enlivened by fresh acidity. The fruit is supported by fine-grained tannins, and the wine carries to a long, concentrated finish with beautiful violet florals. This has a softness and accessibility of style, and will be enjoyable from an early stage, but should age 6-8+ years. Provisional score: (19.0/20) Sep 2017 Available En Primeur RRP $72.50

Dry River ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Tempranillo 2015 
A wine that has reflected the wildly different growing seasons since its first commercial release with the 2011 vintage. One must remember that Martinborough is a relatively cool region to grow the variety. This 2015 is the best release to date, but it is coming before the 2014. The 2014 must be something very special.
Dark, deep ruby-red colour with slight purple hues, youthful in appearance. The nose has excellent depth and intensity, with ripe, aromatic black berried fruits with dark raspberry undertones, unfolding classical spice aromas. This has a degree of florality. A little pepper emerges followed by sweet oak elements. Medium to medium-full bodied, the palate features ripe black berried fruits with dark raspberries and spices. This is sweet and lush, the vibrancy enhanced by fresh acidity. A little herbal nuance along with the piquant acidity is proof of the cooler growing region. The tannin extraction and structure is very fine, but essentially firm, and the wine has a sinewy line leasing to a long, sustained finish. This will keep well, say 7-9 years. Fermented to 12.5% alc., the wine aged 18 months in barrel. 18.5+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $59.00

Dry River ‘Craighall’ ‘Selection’ Martinborough Riesling 2017 
This is a new style developed following Neil McCallum’s departure, and originally involved blending a later harvest pick with the normal pick. 2017 was a problematic growing season, with ripeness an issue and ever-threatening rain events with eventual botrytis. This shows the more slender nature of the 2017 vintage wines, but has considerable flavour.
Straw-yellow colour with slight golden hues and some depth. The nose is very elegant and tightly bound, quite slender in expression, but with a concentrated core of marmalade, musk and talc, unfolding fragrant yellow florals and a core of lime and lemon fruit. The aromatics are harmonious and the componentry just flows into each other. Very sweet and luscious, the palate has intense flavours of honey and musk, clearly botrytis expressive, with exotic florals, tangerines and lemons. The palate is tight and bound, and distinctly fresh and crisp. The sugar sweetness is noticeable, as is the balancing acid cut. The wine is guided by a fine-textured underlying phenolic line that is part and parcel with botrytised fruit work. A work of effort rather than art. High botrytis and shrivel, fermented to 10.0% alc. and c.95 g/L RS, TA 9.8 g/L and pH 2.9. 18.5+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $59.00

Tom Hindmarsh, Assistant Winemaker and Ethan Pittard, Vineyard

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