Tasting Reviews

Forage North Canterbury 2018 Winery and Aged Riesling Tastings

It was a privilege to be invited to Forage North Canterbury 2018. I have reported on the foraging experience and the resulting menu at wines served in a Blog article (click here to see). Part of the day was dedicated to two wine tastings. Firstly, immediately after all the gathered produce was brought to the restaurant for the chefs to devise the menu, guests were invited to participate in a tasting of wines submitted by the 9 wineries involved. Each winery was allowed to show 3 wines. The other tasting was of 8 aged Rieslings, arguably the signature white variety for the region. This was held just before the meal was served. Both tastings were ‘self-serve’. I made brief notes at both tastings and offer my comments here. Due to the more relaxed nature of both these tastings, I feel my comments are not as serious as my ‘Feature Reviews’ or as my notes taken at a structured or tutored tasting, hence the notes and scores have not been added to my database.

The 9 Winery Tasting
As noted above, these wines were offered in a ‘self-serve’ situation. They have arranged by varietal group, then by sweetness or age, depending on the category. I have tasted many of these wines before, and I would defer to my previous notes and ratings.

Sauvignon Blanc
Mount Brown Sauvignon Blanc 2017: Passionfruit and cool-spectrum aromas. Very elegant and soft-textured and a refined style, but still youthfully refreshing 5 g/L RS (18.0-/20) RRP $16.00

Bellbird Spring ‘Block Eight’ Sauvignon Blanc 2014: Soft and gentle with funky savoury aromas and flavours. This has density and fine textures. Some smokiness on the finish. Dry. Old barrel ferment, indigenous yeast. (17.0/20) RRP $32.00

Tongue in Groove ‘Little Stomper’ 2017: Light orange colour, slightly cloudy. Attractive citrus and stonefruit aromas, slight skinsy notes. Some phenolic bitterness on the finish. Gewurztraminer/Muscat, dry. (17.0+/20) RRP $30.00

Chenin Blanc
Black Estate ‘Home’ Chenin Blanc 2017: Lovely intensity of white stonefruits and florals, hints of honey and herbs. A little savoury skinsy note, good concentration, firmness and zesty acidity. Dry. No sulphur, vineyard yeast. (18.0-/20) RRP $45.00

Pinot Gris
Bellbird Spring Dry Pinot Gris 2016: Savoury, leesy, very Alsace-like. Rich and quite driven, excellent linearity and power. Taut, and some alcohol power. Dry. Indigenous yeast, old barrel ferment. (18.0-/20) RRP $32.00

Mount Brown Pinot Gris 2017: Fresh, aromatic, lifted exotic florals. This is fresh and tightly bound, very refined, a crisp mouthfeel. 7 g/L RS. A portion of barrel ferment. (17.5+/20) RRP $16.00

Terrace Edge Pinot Gris 2017: Soft and voluminous with funky, leesy notes, minerals and a touch oxidative on nose. Elegant and taut, with honied flavours, rich fruited, but nutty and oxidative on palate. Power with complexity. 14.0 g/L RS. Wild ferment, 60% barrel, batonnage. (17.5-/20) RRP $N/A

Pegasus Bay ‘Bel Canto’ Dry Riesling 2015: Rich, honied and toasty, lovely presence. Palate reflects the nose with some alcoholic power, tropical fruits with botrytis marmalade and musk. 7.5 g/L RS. (19.0-/20) RRP $35.00

Tongue in Groove Riesling 2014: Fine, tight, limes and toast on nose. Elegant and finely concentrated, citrus and minerals, lovely acidity and linearity. Very Germanic. 11 g/L RS. (18.0/20) RRP $28.00

The Crater Rim Waipara Riesling 2014: Very tight and quite slender, lime fruitiness. Tropical fruits, limes, toast and a little oxidative detail. 25 g/L RS. WBP and 30%new French oak. (17.0+/20) RRP $23.99

The Boneline ‘Sharkstone Chardonnay 2016: Taut, with saline and minerals notes, stoneefruits and flinty aromas. Stonefruits and creamy nutty barrel-ferment with flinty notes. Good acidity. Mendoza, barrel-ferment, indigenous yeast, 30% new oak. (18.0/20) RRP $35.00

The Boneline ‘Barebone’ Chardonnay 2016: Very elegant, pure white stonefruits, some nutty notes. Taut with some grip and brisk acidity. Mendoza and UCD clones, tank-ferment, aged on lees one year. (17.5+/20) RRP $21.00

Pegasus Bay Chardonnay 2015: Full, deep, solidly packed, stonefruit with gunflint complexity. Rich, deep and powerful, solid with stonefruits, nutty and fragrant oak. flinty elements. Fulsome palate. (18.5+/20) RRP $42.00

The Crater Rim Chardonnay 2015: Not Tasted

Pinot Noir
Terrace Edge Pinot Noir 2016: Full, soft, upfront, ripe berryfruits with savoury complexity. Rich, sweet-fruited, lush, plummy fruit with soft structure. Wild ferment, 11 months in 25% new oak. (18.5+/20) RRP $N/A

Greystone Pinot Noir 2016: Full, open very accessible, ripe plum aromas. Fresh and vibrant flavours, sweet and opulent, with mineral elements, good structure underlying. Wild ferment. (19.0-/20) RRP $42.00

Greystone ‘Vineyard Ferment’ Pinot Noir 2016: Elegant but rich in expression with complex savoury, smoky, earthy and game layers, with undergrowth. Lovely density. Bright and lively, some volatile lift, and alcohol power, stylish, but tight core with complexing detail. Intriguing. 100% wild fermented outside in vineyard. (18.5/20) RRP $65.00

The Boneline ‘Waimanu’ Pinot Noir 2016: Elegant ant tightly bound, real intensity of dark-red fruits and lovely florality. Bright and vibrant, piquant and penetrating fragrances, a touch of herbs, very fine concentration and focus. Swiss and Dijon clones, some whole bunch, 30% new oak. (19.0/20) RRP $40.00

Mount Brown ‘Grand Reserve’ Pinot Noir 2016: Savoury fruit with herbal complexities on nose, and sweet-fruited with lovely balance, fine tannins and acid, slight herbal lift. Dijon and Davis clones, 25% new oak. (18.0/20) RRP $29.00

Bellbird Spring ‘River Terrace’ Pinot Noir 2015: Firm and tight on nose, some resinous oak. Quite savoury and gamey, with underlying sweet fruit. Undergrowth complexities, balanced extraction. Indigenous yeast, 20% new oak. (16.5+/20) RRP $37.00

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2015: Deep-fruited, slight game and nutty, toasty oak. Rich, luscious and densely packed, but excellent liveliness and structure, the nutty and toasty oak shows. (18.5+/20) RRP $51.00

Black Estate ‘Netherwood’ Pinot Noir 2015: Firm, deep, and with complex layers. Bright fruited, with sweetness and richness, unfolds complexity, with soft, positive exteraction. 100% whole bunch, vineyard yeasts. (18.5+/20) RRP $65.00

The Crater Rim ‘Rata’ Banks Peninsula Pinot Noir 2015: Elegant in proportion with ethereal lightness of layered savoury complexities. Real drive on palate with a firm core. Some alcohol noticeable, with good acidity. Native yeasts, 100% whole bunch, no additions apart from 10 ppm SO2. (17.5+/20) RRP $31.99

Tongue in Groove ‘Cabal Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2015: Very complex nose, savoury game, dried herbs, undergrowth and mushrooms, slight corruption. Richness of fruit but with freshness and poise on the palate, with game, herbs a bit of funk. (18.5/20) RRP $45.00

Greystone ‘Thomas Brothers’ Pinot Noir 2015: Deep and densely packed with layers of complexity unfolding continuously, savoury dark-red fruits dark herbs, game. The richness is a feature, solidly concentrated with power. Amazingly rounded and accessible. 25% vineyard ferment. (19.0/20) RRP $99.00

Terrace Edge Syrah 2016: Ripe black fruit and black pepper, minerals, some reduction. Sweetl and ripe black fruits, with size and power, but underlying acidity, Reductive notes are present. Wild ferment, 13 months in 25% new oak. (18.0-/20) RRP $N/A

Cabernet Franc
Black Estate ‘Home’ Cabernet Franc 2017: Tight with fresh and youthful redcurrant aromas, some herbs and leaf. Blaxck and redcurrant flavours, some leaf, a hint of stalks, fine extract, and elevated acidity. Vineyard yeasts, no sulphur. (16.5+/20) RRP $45.00

Aged Riesling Tasting
The 8 Aged Rieslings were opened a little before the Forage dinner was to be served. The wines appeared to be ordered in increasing sweetness level, with the oldest wines last in the line-up. Again, self-service, and casual in my note taking – with plenty of (good) distractions of friendly attendees (all anticipating the dinner). The wines were presented as an indication of the keeping ability and development of the region’s leading white variety, and also, no doubt, to show style diversity.

Black Estate Riesling 2012: Soft and honied with subtle complexing toastiness. Bright and lively on palate, the fruit receded and restrained, somewhat taut and just beginning to dry a little. Still with good acid freshness. Somewhat better on bouquet. (17.0+/20)

The Crater Rim Riesling 2011: Tightly bound and firmly concentrated with fully mature toast and kero notes. Still bright and vibrant on palate, taut and intense with lovely honied flavours, slippery flowing and a dry finish. (18.0+/20)

Tongue in Groove Riesling 2012: Very fine and tight with white florals, subtle limes, toastiness, with good intensity. Dyish to taste, firm and dry mouthfeel, a tad phernolic, less fruit now, and more minerals and toast. (17.5/20)

Terrace Edge Riesling 2013: A broader style with richness and considerable breadth on bouquet. Off-dry, rich and mouthfilling with presence, showing florals and honey, layers of toast, and very good length. (18.5/20)

The Boneline ‘Hellblock’ Riesling 2012: Tight, with nutty and mineral secondary aromas, some oxidative nuances. A leaner style. With clarity of expression. Minerals and oxidative notes, and light citrus and floral hints. Fresh in the mouth. Not the best bottle? (16.5/20)

Mount Brown Riesling 2013: A bouquet of finesse and quite tight, now with kero notes. Bright and lively on palate with lime fruit, toasty complexities, but with liveliness and freshness. The acidity carries the wine. (18.0/20)

Muddy Water ‘James Hardwick’ Riesling 2008: Beautifully rich and harmoniously integrated with honey and cream-custard secondary and tertiary complexities. Real depth and intensity, with richness showing honey and toast, and unfolding complex detail, Creamy textures, but just hinting at drying now. (18.5+/20)

Pegasus Bay ‘Aria’ Riesling 2009: Beautifully integrated with soft and voluminous aromas, complex and detailed with lime, marmalade, honey and toast. Lusciously rich with an unctuous texture and layers of complexing fruit with botrytis and bottle development. This has matured gorgeously. (19.5-/20)
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