General Blog

Dry River 2012 Spring Release

By August 31, 2012No Comments
It’s different, but the same at Dry River, and this was apparent at the Spring 2012 Release. A change of guard has occurred at Dry River, firstly with founder Neil McCallum retiring from active duty, and viticulturist and winemaker Shayne and Poppy Hammond also taking their leave to begin their own venture. However it’s business as usual, with Ant Mackenzie continuing to oversee the operation, the very experienced Robert Wills from the cool-climate Strathbogie Ranges in Victoria, stepping in for Shayne, and Poppy’s right hand winemaker man of several years Wilco Lam moving up a step into her place. It’s still the same vineyard management and winemaking techniques that are operating, and the same resource of superlative vines and vineyards providing the base material for the wines.
This year’s Spring Release was presented by Heather Gibbs, the long-time administrator, viticulturist Robert and winemaker Wilco. The team looked forward to meeting many of the loyal clients, and good wishes came from Neil McCallum who gave Wilco an encouraging call on this release without him being present. I suppose Wilco justifiably could be a little nervous, carrying the flag of one of New Zealand’s most highly regarded boutique wineries, but there is nothing for him to worry about. The latest wines, which he has had a significant hand in, continue the style and quality expected of Dry River, without any change. Why should they not?
Impressions of the New Release Wines
The first two wines in the line-up were from the cool, 2012 vintage. As with most years, what nature takes away on one hand, she rewards with the other. Lower sugars at harvest meant decreased potential alcohols, but with this came elegance. The Dry River ‘Craighall’ Riesling 2012 weighs in at 11.5% alc. and 5 g/L rs, dry for all intents and purposes. With a TA of 9.0 g/L and a low pH of 2.98, all augurs well for tightness, finesse and longevity. This is very clean, pristine and pure, showing limes and minerals. A sleek and slender wine with beautifully fine mouthfeel and textures. This should age well. The Dry River Viognier 2012 has 13.7% alc., and also 5 g/L rs. This is a welcome departure from the sweeter style previously, at least for me. It’s all about balance at the time of the finish of fermentation for the Dry River crew. Elegant again in size, as the 2012s tend to be. Beautifully pure apricot and exotic florals with herbs and citrus zest, the palate is wonderfully cutting and crisp. There is richness from fruit, not sugar here. This is clear-cut in typicity.

Dry River’s Chardonnays are arguably the unsung heroes of the portfolio. The Dry River Chardonnay 2011 is indeed a cracker. 13.5% alc., fermented and aged 9 months in 350 L barrels, 20% new. An amalgam of fine, ripe citrussy fruits with mealy complexities and subtle oaking. The palate is geared for bottle development, with racy, fine acidity and flavours that slowly build, finishing with a burst of spiciness, showing how oak can feature with beauty. The Dry River ‘Lovat’ Syrah 2010 at 12.3% alc. is an elegant rendition of the variety. Quite complex with savoury spices and pepper, some reduction characters on nose and palate that meld into Syrah fruit. A fine-textured, but firm wine, I’d like to see this with time for all the components to integrate.

The final wine tasted at the release was the Dry River ‘Bunch Selection’ ‘Lovat’ Gewurztraminer 2011. At 10.4% alc., and around 150 g/L rs, plus around 80% botrytis-affected fruit, this has the figures that suggest an over-the-top sweetie. This is not the case. Orange golden hues, this has a softness to its exoticism and restrained opulence, the aromas seeming to be more in the raisiny spectrum rather than full-on botrytis. Sweet to taste, the varietal spice is gentle and late-harvest raisin and caramel is more apparent. Rich, but not lusciously so, and suggesting if not tending dry on finish. This looks to be a more forward style.

These wines have just been released and are usually sold quickly to the mail order customers. A small amount makes it into traditional retail and restaurants. My advice is to get them sooner than later. I’ll be reviewing these wines more fully in the near future, so do keep an eye out for my article on this website. To find out more about Dry River, go to www.dryriver.co.nz


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