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Featured Reviews




Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2017 – 2009

25 October,2018
Kevin and Kimberley Judd recently celebrated a decade of winemaking under the Greywacke label. It has been a very quick 10 years for the Judds, with the label experiencing phenomenal growth and recognition, and success in varied export markets as well as domestically. Kevin has long left the name he’d made for himself with 25 years at Cloudy Bay; the Greywacke wines with their distinctively rich personalities and layers of complexities that put them among the leaders of style evolution in Marlborough for me.

Best known for the Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’, I personally enjoy the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir just as much, with Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling on their heels, but there’s not much in it, as they are all of a very high standard, each offering their positive traits. The Riesling is very distinctive in that it incorporates a degree of funkiness in its expression through the use of partial barrel-fermentation, indigenous yeasts and some time on lees in old oak. They are a departure from the traditional sleek, pristine and pure floral examples which are usually seen as accepted benchmarks. After a period of investigating some of the more ‘way-out’ Rieslings which employed botrytis and skin contact, I remember asking Kevin if he would consider using these techniques in his Riesling. His answer was classical: "aren’t these Greywacke Rieslings funky enough already?” He is absolutely correct in his philosophy, as many of the more funky Rieslings are just not liked by consumers, and the degree that Greywacke is introducing complexity is already on the edge. Most of the exciting and ground-breaking Rieslings around the world are where Kevin has taken his wine. www.greywacke.com

A Vertical Tasting
It was a privilege for me to have Kevin ask if I’d review all of the Greywacke Rieslings he has made and released to date, these being from 2009 to 2017. The wines are all essentially from the same vineyard source and made in an identical fashion, with slight differences to account for the different growing seasons. The fruit comes from the ‘Ashmore’ vineyard in Fairhall, adjacent to the mouth of the Brancott Valley, the soils being gravelly clay-loam, which is similar to that of the Southern Valleys more so than that of the Wairau plains. The vineyard is now 20 years old and certified organic. The fruit is hand-picked, WBP and usually half fermented in tank with cultured yeast and half fermented in seasoned French oak barriques by indigenous yeasts. The wine spends 4-5 months in oak and the finished wine has approx. 20 g/L RS and a pH just under 3.00. The tasting review notes following will have more exact details. I asked Kevin about his thoughts on botrytis and this wine. His pickers are allowed the leeway of including a little dry botrytised grapes, but no ‘slushy stuff’. In the final analysis, due to low pressing, any influence of botrytis is probably insignificant in the wines.

Vintages
One of the remarkable things about the Greywacke Riesling is its consistency. This is no doubt due to the vineyard and its terroir, but also Kevin’s applied winemaking style. The vintages do have their say, and the growing conditions come though adding their own impact on the expression of the wines. Here, I run briefly through the growing conditions for each of the wines tasted.

2017: A cool growing season with two cyclonic rains in April forcing picking. The shortest and most challenging vintage for Marlborough and Greywacke. An average sized crop. Slightly warmer than average, 1330 GDD.

2016: Generous crop requiring thinning, the temperatures well above average. The warmest season since 1998. 1387 GDD.

2015: A cool start with variable flowering followed by hot, dry conditions mid-summer season, falling away at the end. 1357 GDD.

2014: Perfect flowering set up one of the earliest and potentially largest harvests on record. Harvest began 2 weeks early, but cyclonic rains finished of the season. Warmer than average at 1340 GDD.

2013: A cool November and with flowering for an average sized crop. High sunshine hours but lower mean daily temperatures. The most compressed harvest on record. Slightly above average heat summation at 1302 GDD.

2012: Cool, overcast early season with very poor fruit set. The second coldest season since grapes planted in Marlborough, with a warmer, rain free finish. A very cool and low yield harvest. 1162 GDD.

2011: Very good fruit set with generally fine and warm conditions necessitating crop thinning and canopy management. Dry and windy with warm night conditions. Ripeness achieved at lower sugar levels. An excellent vintage with 1316 GDD.

2010: Flowering gave an average sized crop with small bunches and berries. The growing season ran two weeks late, put perfect weather at the end of the season gave wines of great concentration and excellent acidity. A superb harvest, 1300 GDD.

2009: Good flowering meant high potential yields requiring crop management. Warm sunny and dry weather followed by wet conditions resulting in disease pressure, but excellent conditions at harvest giving ripeness and balance. A great vintage with average 1282 GDD.

Some Conclusions
It was very instructive to see all the wines in a line-up. Previously I had made notes on 5 of the 9 vintages, with two notes on one vintage. The tasting together of all the wines at one time allows a better perspective of the relative similarities and differences.

The Greywacke Riesling is a remarkably consistent wine in style. As noted above, this is no doubt primarily due to the vineyard terroir and Kevin Judd’s consistent winemaking approach to making this wine. This holds for all the wines despite vintage variation and age.

Vintage expression was a noticeable and important difference between the wines. The cooler vintages of 2017 and 2012 showed in their more slender and acid characters, and it is probable these wines will mature more quickly than the wines from the warmer seasons. None of the wines showed over-ripeness, but the fruit richness indicated proper ripeness and certain vinifiication techniques.

The wines from 2017 – 2015 were still youthful, while those from 2014 – 2012 showed emerging secondary honied and toasty detail. The 2011 - 2009 showed definite secondary development and maybe the beginnings of tertiary character, especially with the cream-custard textures. Interestingly none of the wines were past their best, and all had time to go. I have been cautious in my recommended times to drink the wines, knowing they will all, including the lesser vintages, last a decade easily.

It is a testament to the nature of the Riesling grape, and Kevin Judd’s understanding and interpretation of the variety that has resulted in an excellent collection of Greywacke Riesling made to date. They are wines that are different to the vast majority of other Marlborough Rieslings, and show a possible future for others to follow to build more sophistication into the region’s wines.

FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW



Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2017

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough

18.5-/20

Bright, light straw-yellow colour with slight green hues and some depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is very fresh, tightly bound and taut, quite elegant in presentation, but to too slender, as this has intensity, showing an amalgam of white florals, subtle herb notes and integrated lime fruit with mineral nuances. Medium to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has elegantly expressed, fresh and bright fruit flavours of limes with notes of white florals and a little herb and honeysuckle. The fruit forms an elegant core with moderate richness and fresh lacy acidity providing good energy and vibrancy. The wine flows along a fine-textured line to a zesty, lingering finish. This is an elegant, tightly bound medium Riesling with vibrant lime fruit with white florals, herbs and honeysuckle showing some richness and good freshness. Serve as an aperitif over the next 4 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ’Ashmore’ vineyard, WBP and half fermented in tank and half indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned oak to 12.0% alc., 16 g/L RS, TA 7.8 g/L and pH 2.99, the wine aged on lees in barrel for 6 months. 18.5-/20 Oct 2018 RRP $29.95

Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2016

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough

18.5+/20

Bright, even, light yellow colour with pale golden hints, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is full, soft and broad with rich and deep aromas of ripe lime and lemon fruit, along with nuances of tropical fruit and yellow florals with hints of herbs melded with honeysuckle. Medium in sweetness and medium-bodied, the palate is softly full and rich with mouthfilling and luscious honey-infused flavours of lime fruit with ripe tropical fruits and exotic florals. The fruit forms a broad and open heart but has an underlying firmness and drive. The wine flows smoothly and seamlessly with balanced acid freshness leading to a lush, gentle, lingering finish. This is a softly full, broad and up-front medium Riesling with ripe citrus and tropical fruit, exotic florals and a smooth, seamless palate. Match with mildly spicy Asian and Middle Eastern fare over the next 4+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the ’Ashmore’ vineyard, WBP and 40% fermented in tank and 60% indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned oak to 12.0% alc., 19 g/L RS, TA 7.7 g/L and pH 2.96, the wine aged on lees in barrel for 7 months. 18.5+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $29.95

Even, light-yellow colour with lemon-green hues. The bouquet is elegantly concentrated with rich and well-packed aromas of white and yellow florals, subtle notes of citrus fruits, along with nuances of toast melded with honey and a suggestion of kerosine complexities. The aromatics show with finesse. Medium-dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a taut and finely concentrated core of savoury citrus fruits along with white and yellow florals, hints of honey and a subtle toasty edge. A little nuttiness adds detail, The fruit has richness and vitality, and is balanced by fresh, lacy acidity. The wine carries along a fine-textured line, leading to piquant and poised, refreshing finish. This is a taut and concentrated medium-dry Riesling with complex citrus and floral flavours with a little honey and toast, with nutty detail on a fresh, textured palate, Serve with Asian and Middle Eastern fare over the next 4-5 years. Fruit from the ‘Ashmore’ vineyard on soils typical of the Southern Valleys, hand-picked and WBP, 40% fermented in stainless-steel and 60% in old French oak barriques with indigenous yeasts to 12.0% alc., 19 g/L RS, TA 7.7 g/L and pH 2.96. 18.5+*20 Sep 2018 RRP $29.95

Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2015

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough

19/20

Bright straw-yellow colour with pale green hues, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is firm and tightly concentrated with deep and well-packed aromas of ripe lime fruit with an array of citrus fruit in support, unfolding exotic tropical fruits entwined with yellow florals. The fruit has a steely, mouthwatering mineral edge, and the componentry is all precision. Medium in sweetness and medium-bodied, the palate has a concentrated, rich core of ripe lime fruit and white and yellow stonefruits, with nuances of tropical fruit and yellow florals. The palate has excellent drive and linearity, and plenty of presence and power carrying the rich, lusciously detailed flavours to a long, concentrated finish. This is a rich and concentrated medium Riesling with ripe lime and citrus fruit, stonefruits and tropical fruit, and florals that carry to a rich, luscious finish with plenty of drive and power. Match with Asian fare over the next 5+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the ’Ashmore’ vineyard, WBP and half fermented in tank and half indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned oak to 12.5% alc., 20 g/L RS, TA 7.2 g/L and pH 2.93, the wine aged on lees in barrel for 6 months. 19.0/20 Oct 2018 RRP $29.95

Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2014

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough

19/20

Bright straw-yellow colour with green-gold hues and some depth, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is full and voluminous with beautifully fragrant aromas of white and yellow florals, lime fruit, exotic tropical fruit notes, and a suggestion of toast and honey. This id beautifully presented and grows in detail with aeration. Medium in sweetness and medium-bodied, the palate is fresh and lively, but soft and fine-textured, with an array of fragrant citrus fruits and florals, with exotic tropical nuances. The mouthfeel is bright and vibrant, near vigorous with plenty of energy, and the wine flows along a light, very fine-textured line with mouthwatering acidity. As the wine flows, an array of exotic aromatics unfold along with honied elements carrying to a sustained finish. This is a beautifully aromatic medium Riesling with an array of fragrant fruits and florals, with a lively bright, vibrant palate with a very fine line and fresh acidity. Serve with Thai, Vietnamese or Japanese cuisine over the next 4-5 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ’Ashmore’ vineyard, WBP and half fermented in tank and half indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned oak to 12.5% alc., 20 g/L RS, TA 7.8 g/L and pH 2.95, the wine aged on lees in barrel for 6 months. 19.0/20 Oct 2018 RRP $29.95

Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2013

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough

18.5+/20

Bright straw-yellow colour with pale green-gold hues and some depth, lighter on the edge. The nose is full and solid with deep and dense, near-robust aromas with a finely packed core of lime fruit with white and yellow stonefruits unfolding a little honeysuckle and toast. This has layers of richness and detail, the aromatic intensity growing in the glass. Medium-dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is softly packed with dense flavours of lime fruit and stonefruits, honeysuckle and some toastiness. The palate has plenty of richness and presence with soft, integrated acidity. The wine has good energy and sufficient cut to provide freshness and linearity, leading to a soft, lingering finish. This is a softly packed, medium-dry to medium Riesling with dense flavours of limes, stonefruits, honey and toast with integrated acidity and plenty of nuance. Match with rich seafood dishes over the next 4 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ’Ashmore’ vineyard, WBP and half fermented in tank and half indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned oak to 12.0% alc., 20 g/L RS, TA 7.7 g/L and pH 2.95, the wine aged on lees in barrel for 6 months. 18.5+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $29.95

Fruit from a 20 y.o. organic vineyard wild yeast fermented to 12.0% alc. and 20 g/L RS, with a low pH of 2.95. This is about as funky as Kevin and Richard will do here. It is right on the edge for me too. Fantastic judgement and poise. Will consumers love this? The out-there sommeliers should. Bright straw-yellow. This is very tightly bound and has great intensity of white stonefruits, florals and minerals. There’s a touch of mouthwatering rainwater. It has Euro-funk reductive notes of new-wave dry German or Alsace Riesling. Medium-dry to dryish to taste, stonefruits, florals, apples, minerals and flinty flow with real linearity. Great line and drive and length. Crisp and firm, and this has length. 19.0-/20 Sep 2015 RRP $29.95

Brilliant straw-yellow with light green hues. The nose is very fresh, tightly concentrated and finely expressed with aromas of white florals and citrus fruit in an amalgam with subtle mineral and flinty complexities. The nose builds in intensity with a steely, mouthwatering depth. Medium in sweetness with good body and intensity, luscious flavours of white florals unfold layers of honeysuckle, flint and minerals. The palate features a positive, well-concentrated core with positive mouthfeel and linearity, and is enlivened by ripe, soft and lively acidity. Following a very fine textural line, the wine flows to a subtly succulent, long and sustained finish of florals, honey and minerals. This is a medium, luscious Riesling with intense, complex, floral and minerally flavours and a concentrated, linear palate with the finest of textures. Serve as an aperitif and with Asian and Middle Eastern fare over the next 5-6+ years. Fruit from the ‘Ashmore’ vineyard, Fairhall, hand-picked and WBP, half fermented in tank and the remainder indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned French barriques to 12.0% alc., 20 g/L RS, TA 7.7 g/L and pH 2.95, the wine blended and aged 5 months on lees in old oak. 18.5+/20 Jul 2015 RRP $29.95

Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2012

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough

18/20

Brilliant straw-yellow colour with slight green hues and some depth, paler on the edge. The nose is very elegant and a little slender in proportion with fresh, fine, poised aromatics showing lime fruit, white florals, with some honey, toast and herb nuances. This has delicacy, but builds some depth with aeration along with a steely edge. Some secondary development is emerging. Medium in sweetness and light-medium-bodied, the palate is elegant and slender, and fine proportions showing light lime fruit and white florals, with honey and toast. A little secondary savouriness adds to the interest. The mouthfeel is fresh and lively with bright acidity, and the wine flows along a slim line leading to a light, nuanced finish. This is an elegant, refreshingly vibrant medium Riesling with slender structure, just developing savoury secondary complexities now. Serve as an aperitif over the next 3+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the ’Ashmore’ vineyard, WBP and half fermented in tank and half indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned oak to 12.0% alc., 20 g/L RS, TA 8.1 g/L and pH 3.10, the wine aged on lees in barrel for 5 months. 18.0/20 Oct 2018 RRP $29.95

Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2011

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough

18.5/20

Bright straw-yellow colour with light golden hues, a little lighter on the edge. This is softly full and well packed with deep and voluminous aromas of lime fruit yellow florals, honey, cream and toasty secondary notes along with subtle mouthwatering mineral elements. The secondary richness and complexity is becoming integral. Medium in sweetness and medium-bodied, the palate has a complex array of flavours with lime fruit, tropical fruits, yellow florals, honey, toast and creamy secondary layers that fill the mouth. The flavours form a detailed heart with underlying acid vitality and cut. The wine flows smoothly to a long finish. This is a rich, complex, honied medium Riesling with secondary toasty and creamy development, a deep core and fresh acit cut. Serve with fruit over the next 3 years. Hand-picked fruit from the ’Ashmore’ vineyard, WBP and half fermented in tank and half indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned oak to 12.0% alc., 22 g/L RS, TA 8.1 g/L and pH 2.90, the wine aged on lees in barrel for 5 months. 18.5/20 Oct 2018 RRP $29.95

Bright, pale straw-yellow colour, pale on rim. The bouquet is full and dense with a complex array of citrus fruits and funky flint and minerally, reduction notes that grow in interest and complexity in the glass. Medium-dry to taste, this is medium-full bodied with good weight and depth on the palate. Fulsome and solid, with a fine phenolic thread, there is good underlying racy acidity for tension and line. Flavours of limes, florals, sherbet and minerals intermingle and grow in detail, with the sweetness and richness becoming more prevalent. The finish is textured and sustained, with a lively sweetness providing balance. This is a textural Riesling with a complex array of flinty flavours and good richness similar to styles from Alsace. Match with Middle Eastern fare over the next 5-6 years. Hand-picked fruit from the organically farmed ‘Ashmore' vineyard in Fairhall, WBP and 50% fermented in stainless-steel, with 50% wild yeast fermented in old French barriques to 12.0% alc. and 22 g/L rs, all of the wine aged 5 months on lees in old oak. TA 8.1 g/L and pH 2.9. 18.0+/20 Oct 2012 RRP $29.95

Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2010

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough

18.5+/20

Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the rim. The bouquet is soft and full, and with well-integrated componentry, all harmoniously melded, to show layers of an array of citrus fruits, with honey and toast, some mineral elements and complexing secondary development detail. The aromatics are softly full and broad. Medium in sweetness and medium-bodied, the palate is smooth flowing and seamlessly integrated with flavours of lime fruit, honey, cream and toast. The flavours are stylishly restrained and softly presented and flow with gentle linearity. The acidity is balanced and integrated and the wine carries to a long, lingering, gently balanced finish. This is a beautifully integrated and harmonious medium Riesling with lime, honey and toasty flavours showing subtle secondary notes on a smooth, seamless palate. Serve as an aperitif and with Asian fare over the next 4+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the ’Ashmore’ vineyard, WBP and half fermented in tank and half indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned oak to 12.9% alc., 20 g/L RS, TA 8.4 g/L and pH 3.00, the wine aged on lees in barrel for 4 months. 18.5+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $29.95

Brilliant straw-yellow colour with some green-gold hues. This has a full and rich bouquet of lime juices and minerals with notes of jasmine and honey, quite broad in expression, yet with good depth. Off-dry to taste, the intense flavours of limes, exotic florals and minerals are braced by racy, sleek acidity. The wine has weight allied with a finesse resulting in extraordinary poise. The finish is long and concentrated, showing mineral and flinty nuances. Fruit from the ‘Ashmore' vineyard in Fairhall, hand-picked and WBP, 50% indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned French barriques to 12.9% alc. and 20 g/L rs. The wine was given 4 months lees contact. Reminiscent of Asace Riesling. Serve with antipasto and flavoursome Asian cuisine over the next 4-6 years. 18.5/20 Aug 2011 RRP $29.95

Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2009

Riesling from New Zealand – Marlborough

18.5+/20

Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the rim. The bouquet is softly full and voluminous with good depth and vigour, showing lime fruit with yellow florals, some honey with mineral complexities. The secondary toasty and creamy development is subtle, adding a layer of detail to the aromatics. There is still plenty to unfold. Medium in sweetness and medium-bodied, the palate is up-front with rich flavours of lime fruit, tropical fruits and honey, with notes of cream and toastiness adding detail. The flavours are gently mouthfilling and openly accessible with very soft and smooth textures, and fine balanced acidity and freshness. The wine carries to a lingering, soft finish. This is a soft and accessible, up-fronr medium Riesling with rich lime and tropical fruit, toast and honied secondary detail on a smooth palate with fine acid balance. This id beginning to drink on its plateau, but will keep 3-4 years. Serve as an aperitif. Hand-picked fruit from the ’Ashmore’ vineyard, WBP and half fermented in tank and half indigenous yeast fermented in seasoned oak to 11.5% alc., 20 g/L RS, TA 7.7 g/L and pH 2.95, the wine aged on lees in barrel for 5 months. 18.5+/20 Oct 2018 RRP $29.95

Showing complex Euro-funkiness on the nose, indigenous yeasts, solids? and toasty complexities on an elegant bouquet. Off-dry to medium on palate, this had softly expressed secondary flavours appearing. Kero and toast, some soft textural grip, but a Germanic lusciousness and good balancing acidity. 11.7% alc. and 20 g/L rs.  Mar 2011
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