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Tasting Reviews

Lawson’s Dry Hills ‘Ranu’ 2017

Lawson’s Dry Hills is one of the stalwart wine producers of Marlborough. Established by Ross and Barbara Lawson who planted their first vineyard in 1980, they launched their own label in 1992. The Lawson’s Dry Hills wines have proven to be classical expressions of Marlborough, and the aromatic whites (this includes the Sauvignon Blanc) are exceptional. My recent experiences of the wines have shown their Pinot Noirs becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Lawson’s Dry Hills celebrates 25 years of winegrowing this year. The business reflects the accumulated experience of all the team, many of whom have been long-serving. Ross Lawson passed away in 2009, but would be extremely proud of the fruits of his labour if he were to see it today. The company draws fruit grown in Wairau, Waihopai, Omaka and Awatere Valleys, to go into the ‘Estate’, ‘Reserve’ and the flagship ‘The Pioneer’ ranges, as well as the ‘Mount Vernon’ and ‘Blind River’ labels

Tim and Pauline Evill, partners of Ross and Barbara Lawson, took ownership of Lawson’s when Barbara retired recently. Sion Barnsley is the general manager and a director, his family one of the shareholders with the Lawsons from the inception of the business. Senior winemaker is Marcus Wright, with Lawson’s since 2001, and he is assisted by Rebecca Wiffen, who came to Lawsons in 2004. Mark Ludemann is the viticulturist since 2006. The cellar door comes under the care of Nigel Whittaker, part of the fabric of the company, and Belinda Jackson looks after the marketing. These key figures form a tight team that is proud of their achievements to date too.

The ‘Ranu’ 2017
In celebration of their 25 years of winegrowing, Lawson’s Dry Hills has released a special wine named ’Ranu’, which is from the Maori verb ‘to mix’. The wine is a co-fermentation of equal parts Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, arguably their best varieties, the fruit from the 2017 vintage. The wine was indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned oak, over several months, during which there were no winemaking interventions. The wine represents the quality wines made to date, as well as the desire for innovation and continued development. Here are my impressions on the wine.

Lawson’s Dry Hills ‘Ranu’ Marlborough 2017
Bright, light straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, lighter on the rim. The nose is softly packed with aromas of savoury yellow stonefruits with rose-petal florals, root ginger and earth, entwined with nutty barrel-ferment and flinty lees complexities and mineral elements. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate features a firm core that unfolds an array of savoury stonefruit s melded with rose-petal florals, root ginger and an amalgam of nutty oak and leesy minerals. The palate has richness with a suggestion of unctuous, balanced by crisp, mouthwatering acidity lending energy and drive. The wine flows along a fine-textured line, leading to a complex, savoury, but aromatic finish. This is a complex co-fermented blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling with savoury stonefruit, aromatic floral and ginger, and nutty notes on a rich, but refreshing, thirst-quenching palate. Match with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare over the next 3-4 years. A co-fermentation of equal parts of three varieties, the Pinot Gris from the ‘Barnsley’ block in Waihopi, the Riesling from the company’s Waihopi vineyard, and the Gewurztraminer from the ‘Woodward’ vineyard nearby the winery on Alabama Road, the fruit WBP, and indigenous yeast fermented to 13.0% alc. and 5.8 g/L RS. 50 dozen made. RRP $28.00
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