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Dry River 2018 Autumn Release Mail Order Tasting

By March 2, 2018No Comments
Ethan Pittard, Dry River – vineyard
It is very pleasing to see the continued progress of Dry River Wines in Martinborough since Wilco Lam took over the label’s stewardship, the 2013 wines being the first under his complete control from vine to glass. The culture of Dry River remains on achieving the highest quality through great attention to detail, making wines that are immensely ageworthy. Previously, there was a very scientific and purist approach to the management of the company, and Wilco and his team have expanded the outlook to embrace philosophy and art, and indeed a wider context to appreciating the wines. Their latest renditions of their brochure is a showcase for the greater perspectives.
However, there are even more important initiatives on the practical side. Wilco and his team began instituting biodynamic and organic regimes in the vineyard in 2013. The aim is, obviously to further improve the health of the vines and vineyard, and raise the quality level even further. It is possible that the vineyard will achieve organic certification for the 2020 vintage.
This is in conjunction with the development of stylistic expression of the wines towards that which is very contemporary. Wilco is employing indigenous yeast fermentation with an increase in the use of neutral oak for fermentation and maturation. The Chardonnay is a very good example of increasing the degree of complexity and richness of this wine, with solids inclusion in the ferment. The reds are also undergoing a similar process, and one can see a greater degree of flavour detail especially in the Pinot Noir. I believe that the aromatic whites, particularly the Pinot Gris, are being guided down the path of greater fruit purity and elegance with subtle textural improvement. The process of change is subtle, and it needs to be, to ensure that the loyal clientele can share in the evolution and not be left behind. The cooler 2017 vintage has been a good one to further implement the style tweaking with the whites. Wilco assures me that the growing season and vintage still plays the most significant role in how the wines show.
I am also enjoying getting to know the staff of Dry River Wines better. Wilco states that it is a team effort to get the wines to where they are, and is very happy for the clients and consumers of Dry River wines to get to know the staff and their roles. www.dryriver.co.nz

Sarah Bartlett, Dry River – marketing and communications

Tasting the 2018 Autumn Release Wines

This year’s release tasting programme kicked off on Friday 2 March, held at the Wharewaka Function Centre on the Wellington waterfront. On hand were winemaker Wilco Lam, Sarah Bartlett in charge of marketing and communications, and Ethan Pittard on the viticultural team. Dry River has introduced formal tastings focussing on one varietal, showing how it evolves over time. This mail order event looked at the ‘Craighall’ Riesling. This was booked out within one day of notification.

The mail order brochure listed 9 wines on offer, but 3 were noted to be sold out. Further sales have seen the quantity of some of the wine go down to levels that meant that offering them for public tasting was not viable. In the end, there were 4 wines available for tasting. My notes on the wines follow.
Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016
Dark, deep, black-hearted ruby-red colour. This has a firm and intense nose with aromas of ripe black cherries with a complex amalgam of dark herbs, subtle whole cluster notes, black and violet florals and nuances of spices. Medium-full bodied, this has bright and vibrant black cherry and berry fruit with a complexing layer of spices, black olives and herb nuances. The fruit is rich and lush, and underlined by fine-grained powdery tannin extraction and fresh lacy acidity. As the wine flows, the florals blossom and savoury tapenade suggestions emerge. This is already showing complexity. This will develop well over the next 7-9 years. Fruit from the ‘Dry River Estate’, ‘Lovat’ and ‘Craighall’ sites, indigenous yeast fermented with 35% whole clusters to 12.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 15% new 300 L and 350 L hogsheads. 19.0+/20 Mar 2018 RRP $86.50
Dry River ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Riesling 2017
Very pale straw colour, near colourless on the rim. The nose is very clean and pure with a core of aromas that unfold with an array of white stonefruits, white florals and lime fruit, unveiling citrus blossom and thirst-quenching minerals. This has real volume, but a positively concentrated heart. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is taut but very soft in texture and refined in mouthfeel, showing lime and lemonade fruit with white florals and hints of minerals and stonefruits. The palate is very smooth flowing with refined and balanced acid piquancy that eventuates to softness. The flavours and presence recede a little on the finish, but linger well. This is a beautifully soft and refined bottling that will develop over 5-6 years. Clean fruit with no botrytis from the ‘Craighall’ vineyard, 50% indigenous yeast fermented in stainless-steel to 11.0% alc. and 5 g/L RS, TA 8.9 g/L and pH 2.9. 19.0-/20 Mar 2018 RRP $47.00
Dry River Martinborough Pinot Gris 2017
Pale straw-yellow colour, youthfully light. The nose is fresh and very elegant, with tightly bound aromas of pears and white stonefruits, along with exotic white florals and subtle honeysuckle and nutty suggestions. The aromatics are pure and focussed with a minerally edge. Medium-dry to taste and medium-bodied the palate has a refined richness and fruit sweetness with pears and white florals, and a little honied unctuousness. The fruit makes a positive impactwith its focus and intensity. Very smooth textures and fresh acidity provide good linearity, and the wine carries to a lighter, elegant and slender, moderately sustained finish. This is a fresh and elegant expression with fruit clarity. It will develop over the next 4-5 years. Fruit from the ‘Dry River Estate’ and ‘Craighall’ sites, with 15% botrytised fruit, fully indigenous yeast fermented, 25% in seasoned oak to 12.5% alc. and 17 g/L RS, the barrel portion aged 9 months in oak,, the wine avoiding batonnage. 18.5+/20 Mar 2018 RRP $55.00
Dry River ‘Lovat’ Martinborough Gewurztraminer 2017 «««««
Light golden colour with some depth. The nose is full and voluminous, up-front and bold with aromas of exotic tropical fruits and Turkish Delight with honey and orange marmalade, root-ginger, bath salts and an array of perfumes. This is nearly over-the-top and near other-worldly! Medium-dry to medium in taste and fullish bodied, the palate has mouthfilling flavours of tropical fruits, exotic florals, spices and musk, along with honey, marmalade and ginger, intermixed with bath salts. This has fruit richness and plenty of power and drive, with some alcoholic warmth. The unctuous textures are balanced by fine phenolic grip, and the wine carries to a lingering, flavoursome finish. This is an extroverted wine of richness, opulence and power. Drink over the next 4+ years. Fruit from the ‘Lovat’ vineyard, approx. 30% botrytis infected, fully indigenous yeast fermented, 30% in seasoned oak to 13.5% alc. and 17.5 g/L RS, the barrel portion aged 10 months in oak, avoiding batonnage. 19.0+/20 Mar 2018 RRP $47.00
Wilco Lam, Dry River – winemaking

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