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Auburn Wines 2013 Riesling Preview

By June 30, 2013No Comments
One of the most interesting and promising producers in Central Otago is Auburn Wines. Max Marriot is leading the charge with expressing Riesling terroir as shown by his sub-regional wines. His first vintage was in 2009, the wines made at Packspur, the 2010s were made at the Central Otago Wine Co., and from 2011, at Rockburn. Each year, the wines have grown in stature, such that the 2012s earned them runner-up position in my ‘Winery of the Year’ last year. (Click here to see my reviews of the wines.) The quantities of each wine, from Alexandra, Bannockburn, Bendigo, Lowburn and Northburn are minuscule, in the region of 75 dozen, and the sweeter versions much less than half that again, and they are thus extremely limited.

As a Riesling fanatic, Max has a strong interest in the wines of Germany, and is fully conversant with the latest developments there, having recently spending a vintage working in the Mosel. His wines to date have been based on the traditional styles which often have lower alcohols and higher residual sugars. But the 2013s introduce Max’s interpretation of the drier style, which is, in Germany, where a significant degree of the excitement and interest is focussed. Max invited me around to the Rockburn winery where he vinifies the wines, to give me a preview of the 2013s from tank.

Max Marriott, Auburn Wines
With a tank of kabinett-style ‘Pisa’ Riesling 2013
First up was the ‘Pisa’ Riesling 2013, from a site just under 400 metres a.s.l., the wine seen a nod to the classical Kabinett style, made from “green bunches” rather than “orange bunches”. Dryish to taste with true thirst-quenching mouthfeel, not the lusciousness seen in some of Max’s other efforts, thus an expression of the core of German wine style. This is approx. 10% alc. with 30 g/L rs and a TA of 11.0 g/L. More in tune with the style that Max has come up with was the ‘Bannockburn’ Riesling 2013, softer and broader in mouthfeel and a step up in weight and texture, with beautifully delicate tangerine and orange fruit aromas and flavours. This is 10.5% alc. and 30 g/L rs, and a TA of 9 g/L.

Then onto the new developments for the 2013 vintage in creating wines with greater texture and layers of flavours with lees work and skin contact, very much in the new dry Riesling styles of Germany. First up was a 200 L lot of ‘Pisa’ Riesling 2013 given 6-8 hours skin contact, fermented on solids and given lees contact to 10.5%-11.0% alc. with 5-6 g/L rs and a TA of 9.5 g/L. This was full, textured dry and flinty, with layers of funky interest. Next was the ‘Cuvee’ Riesling 2013, a 500 L lot, and a multi-regional blend of the left-overs of all the wine, undergoing WBP, this was crisp, steely zesty and tight, with pure citrus fruit expressed with linearity. Max’s intention is to blend the two lots in a 2 to 5 proportion, and a trial blend tasted was indeed greater than the parts, combining fresh, clean liveliness, with relatively subtle flinty, minerally extras. Max has rejected another ‘Pisa’ Riesling 2013 component fermented on full solids, this wine with bolder confected characters and a hard, hollowed palate flow. This wine is destined for the grappa!

Max then returned to the styles he has had success with. The ‘Northburn’ Riesling 2013, at 9%-9.5% alc., 45 g/L rs and a TA of 9.5-10 g/L rs, has lush citrus and honey aromas and flavours with nutty nuances and very subtle textures, this in a Spatlese style. This was followed by the ‘Lowburn’ Riesling 2013, with 8.5%-9%, 80-85 g/L rs and a TA of 9.5-10 g/L rs, this with a positive lusciousness and richness, a real core. Very fine textures and a very long finish are the features, and this may be the top wine of the 2013 Auburn Rieslings from this showing. I have scored the 2011 and 2012 ‘Bendigo’ Riesling both 20.0/20, and the 2013 ‘Bendigo’ Riesling shares the same flavour profile of exotic florals, but this vintage may be a little lighter and more delicate, but has real finesse with restrained opulence, and great cut. This sits at 8.5% alc. with 60-65 g/L rs.

I can’t wait until the end of the year when these 2013 Auburns are released. These will no doubt continue Max’s quest to make innovative Central Otago Rieslings that sit alongside the best of Germany, but showing their own style.  www.auburnwines.com

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