The commitment to the mail order client database for Dry River is a very strong one, as winemaker Wilco Lam and administrator Heather Gibbs conducted the Christchurch and Wellington tastings on Thursday and Friday respectively, even though picking in Martinborough had just begun at Dry River. The race was on, as Cyclone Lusi was due to arrive that weekend, as well!
This autumn release is traditionally a most important one, as it sees the new Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and the latest Pinot Noir, these being the 2013 whites and 2012 red. The 2013s are the vintage that Wilco has been responsible for from the growing season to the bottling, and the 2012 Pinot Noir was the last wine that Poppy Hammond was involved with. As I’ve stated over the last couple of years, the transition occurring at Dry River has been seamless, and the wines haven’t missed a beat, as the viticultural and winemaking systems have been well-established over the years. If anything, Wilco and general manager Ant Mackenzie have been very cautious and conservative in their decisions to ensure that the Dry River wines over deliver in what can be expected of them. It appears to be the case with these latest releases. www.dryriver.co.nz
Wilco Lam – winemaker, Dry River
Wilco Lam – winemaker, Dry River
The situation and conditions for the Dry River mail order tastings are always conducive for a good appraisal of the wines. It’s something founder Neil McCallum insisted on, and Heather and Wilco have continued its format. This time, they had Zerrutti Ultimo Taster glasses available, instead of the tiny ‘XL5’ ISO glasses used in the past – progress! My comments on the wines follow, but I’ll be reviewing them shortly in even more stringent conditions.
Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir 2012
This is from a difficult vintage in the district, but Pinot Noir is a proven variety in such cooler years in Martinborough. Dry River’s releases in the more elegant vintages seem to age particularly well, and Wilco is confident that this will do so. Lighter, even ruby-red, but youthful in appearance, this shows softly full red berry fruit and red floral aromatics, revealing spice notes and herbs on bouquet. It’s an elegant wine for sure on palate, but the bright dark red fruit flavours explode and fill the mouth. Florals and spices show, as on nose. It just doesn’t have the extra layering and richness of warmer years, nor the sweetness, but this has a firm core and line that carries the palate, with the acid playing a role in its linearity. There’s plenty of structure for its size. This is a 6+ year wine for me. Fermented to 12.5% alc, with up to 20% whole cluster, aged 12 months in 20% new mainly 300 L and 350 L hogsheads. 18.5/20 RRP $85.00
Dry River Martinborough Pinot Gris 2013
Wilco recounts that a 100 ml rain event damaged the fruit of ‘Block 5’ of the ‘Craighall site for this wine, causing splitting, but dry weather ensuing concentrated the remaining fruit superbly. Though yielding less than 50% what is normal, the quality more than made up for it, and was blended into the ‘Dry River Estate’ fruit for a special wine. Fermented to 14.0% alc. and 25 g/L RS. Strong straw-yellow colour with a faint blush. The bouquet has a rich core of ripe pear and yellow stonefruits along with honied notes, almost some raisining. Medium in sweetness, this has a firm, deep structure and concentrated richness. The fruit is a little restrained at present, but the lusciousness and presence is clear to see. Superb phenolic handling is evident, the wine flowing smoothly, but there is power and a little alcohol present. Excellent acidity runs alongside the alcohol. This may develop a little more quickly than other releases? 4-5 years. 18.5+/20 RRP $55.00
Dry River ‘Lovat’ Martinborough Gewurztraminer 2013
This is a wine that tested Wilco. Three passes to collect the fruit, one early for freshness and one later for the late harvest layering. There were two ferments, one trouble-free, the other slow going, and extended lees aging. Fermented to 14.5% alc. and 28 g/L RS. Brilliant. Brilliantly clear with pale straw colour. The bouquet is one of supreme varietal clarity, tightly bound and with what the French call ‘puissance’, a sinewy strength. Beautifully aromatic with an array of aromas from fine rose-petals to honey, lychee and a touch of creaming soda. Medium in sweetness, this has great finesse, vibrant vitality, purity and cut. There’s exoticism and floral beauty combined, and the palate flows with zest and richness. The linearity, poise and freshness are stunning, and the length a highlight. A beautiful wine in the truest sense. This is a wine the Dry River team can be immensely proud of. 6-8 years. 19.5/20 RRP $45.00