Dry River 2016 Autumn Releases
Here are my reviews of the wines comprising the Dry River 2016 Autumn Releases which will be released next month. Having followed the Dry River wines for many years, and paying particular attention to them over the period of change of ownership from Dr Neil and Dawn McCallum to the present stewardship of winemaker Wilco Lam, I can state that the transition has gone extremely smoothly, particularly in terms of wine style. This is to be expected, as Wilco, with the consultancy of Ant Mackenzie have continued the viticultural and winemaking practices and standards as established by the McCallums and maintained by Poppy and Shayne Hammond until the present management.
The wines continue to show the work in attaining flavour and phenolic ripeness, whilst retaining modest alcohols, elegance of style, purity of fruit and detailed and finesse of texture. This is not to say that Wilco and Ant will not implement changes in time to develop the wines incorporating advances learned from contemporary trials and experimentation; and indeed, there have already been some exciting innovations.
As with all fine wines that reflect their origins, they also show the character of growing season and vintage. These releases show the 2015 white and 2014 red vintages in their resultant style. In 2015, vineyard stress has provided more savoury, nutty, phenolic and complex wines, rather than wines of "opulence and buoyancy”. 2014 also had its challenges to attain balance, and the tendency for higher yields required attention. As a result, the 2014 reds do not have the richness of the previous vintage, but they have a refreshing and sinewy charm to them which will provide much interest and satisfaction. www.dryriver.co.nz
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Dry River ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Riesling 2015Riesling from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 25-Feb-2016Bright straw-yellow colour with pale golden hues, lighter on rim. The nose is soft, refined and elegantly proportioned with aromas of white florals and limes, unveiling subtle acacia and jasmine florals, honeysuckle and mouthwatering mineral detail. The aromatics are beautifully integrated, with a pure and refined heart. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate features a tight, refined and firm core of thirst-quenching flavours of limes, lemonade, white florals, honeysuckle and minerals. The fruit flows along a fine, dry, textural line and grows in intensity, concentration and phenolic structure. Refined, lively, lacy acidity lends energy and drive and enhances the mouthwatering palate. The textural line carries the flavours to a firmly bound, long and sustained finish of limes, minerals and honeysuckle. This is a firm, concentrated, finely structured dry Riesling with lime, floral and mineral flavours. Serve as an aperitif and with seafood over the next 6-7 years. Clean fruit from 3 picks from ‘Craighall Blocks 5 and 6’, from vines planted in the late 1980s, fermented in stainless-steel to 12.5% alc. and 4.5 g/L RS, TA ~8g/L and pH 2.9, the wine aged 6 months on lees. 19.0-/20 Dec 2015 RRP $44.00
Dry River Martinborough Pinot Gris 2015Pinot Gris from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 25-Feb-2016Full, bright, light golden-hued yellow colour with some depth, lighter edged. This has a firmly concentrated nose with rich, deep, ripe yellow stonefruit aromas softly integrated with exotic yellow florals, honeysuckle and wild honey. Very delicate talc botrytis, apricot kernel, and nutty nuances emerge, providing complexing detail, supporting the beautiful, ripe fruit clarity. Medium in sweetness and medium-full bodied, the palate is rich with layers of ripe yellow stonefruits, tropical fruits, honeysuckle and honey, along with soft marmalade botrytis elements. The fruit is rich and along with the sweetness forms an unctuous core underlined by very fine phenolic textures. Soft acidity enhances the richness and near opulence. The palate carries to a rich amalgam of ripe fruit and subtle botrytis flavours that are long and lingering. This is a rich, ripe, unctuous medium-sweet Pinot Gris with stonefruit and honied flavours. A classical Dry River expression that will match Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine over the next 5-6 years. Fruit from the ‘Dry River Estate’, vines 8 y.o. and 35 y.o., with fruit from ‘Craighall Block 5’, vines approx. 25 y.o. 3 picks of fruit, the last with a little shrivel and botrytis. Fermented in stainless-steel to 13.5% alc. and 20 g/L RS, the wine aged 6 months on lees. 19.0+/20 Dec 2015 RRP $55.00
Dry River ‘Lovat’ Martinborough Gewurztraminer 2015Gewurztraminer from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 25-Feb-2016Full, bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the rim. The nose is broad with softly voluminous and gently packed, layered aromas of rose-petal florals, exotic tropical fruits, root ginger, creaming soda and spices, harmoniously integrated with waves of marmalade, honey and musk. Medium in sweetness and medium-full bodied, the palate features a rich and deep core with fruit flavours of exotic florals, tropical fruits and root ginger, along with marmalade, honey, talc and musk from botrytis. The flavours are integrated and interwoven, and flow along a fine-textured phenolic-based palate, the fruit restrained in sweetness and succulence. The structure carries the wine easily, with soft acidity and some alcohol power enhancing the weight and vinosity. The wine leads to a moderately dry, long, lingering, textured finish with exotic florals and honied nuances. This is a rich, exotic and well-concentrated, botrytis-influenced Gewurztraminer with fine, dry, phenolic textures. Match with Middle Eastern fare and semi-hard cheeses over the next 4-5+ years. Fruit with shrivel from the ‘Lovat’ vineyard, vines ~22 y.o., the last picking of fruit heavily botrytised, fermented in stainless-steel to 14.0% alc. and 20 g/L RS, the wine aged 6 months on lees. 18.5+/20 Dec 2015 RRP $45.00
Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir 2014Pinot Noir from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 10-Dec-2015Very dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour with slight purple hues on the edge. The nose is finely concentrated and tightly bound with aromas of black cherry and black-berried fruits entwined with black minerals and subtle dark herbs, and delicately complexing whole cluster stalk and stem perfumes. Black and dark red florals and a suggestion of toasty oak emerge with aeration. Medium-full bodied and elegantly presented, sweet and luscious fruit flavours of blackberries and black cherries are the feature and are melded with dark herbs and complexing stalk and stem whole cluster nuances, along with black minerals. The fruit sweetness is enhanced by fresh, lacy acidity, and the mouthfeel supported by refined tannin extraction. The palate is refreshing with the fruit sweetness balanced and driven by acid cut, and the wine carries to a long and sustained, supple-textured finish. This is an elegant and gently sweet Pinot Noir with subtle layers of complexity and fine tannin and acid freshness. Match with wild duck and pork over the next 5-6+ years. Predominantly clones 5 and 10/5 with some 115 and 777. 50% from ‘Craighall Block 6’, 25% Dry River Estate’, 15% ‘Lovat’ and 10% ‘Craighall Block 5’, fermented with under 30% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine spending up to 17 days on skins and aged 12-13 months in 20% new 300 L and 350 L hogsheads. 18.5/20 Nov 2015 RRP $83.50 (Release price, March 2016)