Top White – Riesling
New Zealand Riesling has always been a favourite of mine; unfortunately, it's very over-shadowed by Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, other more popular varieties. NZ offers an excellent climate for Riesling, especially the South Island, with long sunny days, cold nights and long, dry autumn for ripening.
Riesling has a wide scale of flavour from bone dry to lusciously sweet, can be made from clean fruit to late harvest or botrytis infected grapes to create sweet, dessert-style wines, so versatile that I can only think of endless food match! Bone dry style to match with raw or poached seafood; off-dry style with pulled-pork, crispy pork belly; medium-sweet style match with chicken liver parfait, bacon or Mutton Bird; late-harvest sweet wine with panna cotta, meringue; and botrytis infected with strong cheese and pan-seared foie gras. Who's hungry?
My selection of Top-rated Riesling below is arranged from dry to sweet. Butterworth's Dry Riesling is crisp and light full of bright citrus; Hawkshead Riesling has a complex range of flavours and excellent concentration. River T from the Waitaki shows delicate floral with a citrus, mineral background; Three Miners Herringbone Riesling from Alexandra has great energy and an apple, taut acid line. Pegasus Bay Bel Canto is a consistently outstanding Riesling, distinctive style, rich and complex, made with a portion of botrytised grapes, and their 'estate' Riesling is also always in a medium-dry style, well-balanced, precise and age-worthy. Micro-producer Mon Cheval in North Canterbury has an apple and chalky mineral expression and a long-lasting finish. Valli shows a sense of place brilliantly, and you can almost taste the limestone from Waitaki Valley, vibrant and well-balanced. The last of the lineup is Carrick, a medium-sweet style with mouth-filling with fleshy fruit and excellent sugar and acid balance.
If you are keen to taste them all or ready to be convinced that Riesling is absolutely fantastic, please join me in Queenstown or Wellington tasting event. Ticket links below.
Queenstown 25 Jan - https://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/237150442357
Wellington 27 Jan - https://www.eventbrite.co.nz/e/236602222617
*Use the code "TOPWHITE" on the below websites to apply a discount to buy direct.
Carrick - 10%
River T - 15%
Mon Cheval - 10%
Butterworth - 10%
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Butterworth Te Muna Dry Riesling 2021, MartinboroughRiesling from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 20-Oct-2021Bright, pale yellow, even colour throughout. The nose is crisp with soft aromas of apple, lime and lime flower and melon suggestions. Medium-light bodied, crunchy aromas of green apple, lime interweave lime blossom and zest. The mouthfeel possesses fine-textured phenolics reminiscent of apple skins and chalky minerals. Taut acidity provides a salivating, focused drive and a long, crisp finish. Match this with steamed/ raw seafood and linguine vongole over the next 5 years. Handpicked, whole bunch pressed, fermented in stainless steel to 11% alc, 6g/l RS, spent a short amount of time on light lees. No fining. 18.5/20 pts (93 pts) Oct 2021 RRP $35
Hawkshead Riesling 2021, Central OtagoRiesling from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 23-Nov-2021Bright, even, pale yellow, youthful. The soft is gently full with a depth of aromas; honey nuance melded with white floral, underlying stonefruit, melon, lemon and a hint of mandarine zest. Medium-bodied, dry-ish to taste, concentrated aromas of stonefruit, honeydew melon, entwined with lemon and pith, honey and an amalgam of white blossom. The flavours are harmonious and well-proportioned, elegantly concentrated. Very fine-textured phenolics coated the palate in silk; a zesty acid line balanced and drew a lengthy finish. This is a smooth, harmonious flavoured Riesling with charm and a fine-textured mouthfeel, perfectly in balance. Match with clams in miso butter and lemon & herb sausages over the next 8 years. Fruit from Cromwell Basin, whole bunch pressed, wild-fermented cool in stainless steel to 12% alc, 7 g/l RS, rested on lees for 4 months. Vegan friendly. 19/20 pts (95 pts) Nov 2021 RRP $31.75
River T Riesling 2019, Waitaki ValleyRiesling from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 09-Sep-2021Bright, pale straw-yellow, even colour throughout. The bouquet is concentrated and elegantly filling the glass softly with aromas of lime, green apple, interweave subtle spice lifting, along with a suggestion of floral and honey. Medium-bodied, dry-ish to taste, the palate has a lovely concentration and salivating aromas of lime, green apple melded with citrus blossoms and a hint of spice; honey nuance lingers on the closing. The aroma grows as the wine aerated, filling the palate with soft intensity, unveiling a zesty, mineral line support by mouthwatering acidity. This is a dry, flavoursome Riesling with a strong citrus core on a crisp, mineral palate. Match with prawn dumplings and Thai green mango salad over the next 6+ years. 12% alc. 18.5+/20 pts (94 pts) Sept 2021 RRP $24
Three Miners Herringbone Riesling 2021, Central OtagoRiesling from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 26-Oct-2021Bright, even, very pale yellow with a slightly green hue. The bouquet is soft and elegant, packed with citrus nuances, lime flower, ripe stone fruit interweave and a subtle lifting of white spice. Medium-light bodied, dry-ish to taste, brilliantly concentrated aromas of lime, its zest and flower, melded with Granny Smith apple and its skins, white peach rounded the finish with a hint of white pepper. The fruit is pure with excellent concentration, a succulent lime core enlivened by lush flavours of Granny Smith and ripe peach. Lime zest, floral element added interest, and apple skins contribute to the texture. Good energy flow and a taut acid tension drive a long, refreshing finish. This vibrant, crisp Riesling with lime and apple core concentration persist on a salivating textural palate along with floral and white spice details. Match with white fish ceviche and clams in seaweed butter over the next 5+ years. Fruit was sourced from Three Miners Vineyard, near Alexandra, handpicked, whole bunch pressed, fermented to 11% alc. 18.5+/20 (94 pts) Oct 2021 RRP $29
Pegasus Bay Reserve Bel Canto Dry Riesling 2020, North CanterburyRiesling from New Zealand - Canterbury & WaiparaReview Date : 07-Oct-2021Bright, pale yellow with a gold hue and some depth, even colour throughout. The nose is full and complex, filled the glass with aromas of lilies, beeswax, honey, unfolding mandarin, grapefruit zest, melon, along with ginger spice. Full-bodied, dry to taste, intense aromas packed on the palate. Mandarin, lemon, grapefruit zest melded with plush melon, unfolding beeswax, honey, white lilies and a spicy layer of ginger dusting. The fruit is rich and concentrated, enriched by the complexing characters of botrytised grape, showing profound nuances of beeswax, honey and white lilies. The ginger spice layer has clarity, elevated by integrated, mouthwatering acidity. A slightly unctuous mouthfeel retains complex flavours and contributes to an opulent appeal. This complex flavour bomb made from Riesling with a portion of botrytis infected grapes shows a sophisticated range of flavours with depth and intensity. Match with pan-fried chicken liver and squid ink pasta over the next 5-8 years. Only produced in exceptional years, with a portion of botrytis, cool-fermented to 14.5% alc, 6.9g/l RS. 19+/20 pts (96 pts) Oct 2021 RRP $40
Mon Cheval Dry Riesling 2019, North CanterburyRiesling from New Zealand - Canterbury & WaiparaReview Date : 29-Oct-2021Bright, pale yellow with a green hue, even colour throughout. The nose is calm and soft with focus, penetrating aromas of lime, apple, speargrass, melded with citrus flowers and minerals. Medium-light bodied, dry-ish to taste, aromas of lime, mandarine entwined with green apple and apple skins, unveiling orange blossom, chalky mineral and a hint of honey. The wine has a harmonious, well-proportioned range of flavours with concentrated expressions. Apple skins and minerals left a chalky mouthfeel, persisting with vibrant yet clam acidity to linearity. This is a harmonious Riesling with flavours of lime and green apple, orange blossom and a chalky mineral line led by lively acid focus and a long, lingering finish. Match with pan-fried sole and shellfish over the next 5-8 years. Handpicked, whole bunch pressed, fermented in stainless steel to 11.5% alc, 13.5g/l RS. 19/20 pts (95 pts) Oct 2021 RRP $27.50
Valli Waitaki Vineyard Riesling 2020, North OtagoRiesling from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 19-May-2021Bright, pale yellow with a slight green hue, even colour throughout. The nose is soft and fresh, with youthful aromas of citrus zest, lime intermix crunchy stony mineral and a hint of honey. Medium-bodied, off-dry to taste, lime, mandarin and citrus zest lead the palate with freshness and vibrancy; a hint of lime flower and honey added interest. An excellent chalky mineral palate and salinity flows with mouthwatering acidity to a dry, refreshing finish. A small dose of residual sugar sweetness contributed to weight and balance to the otherwise awakening acid line, leaves a moreish closing. This is an attractive off-dry Reisling that shows a sense of place with vibrant citrusy elements and a chalky mineral palate. Match with clams in XO sauce and crispy-skinned blue cod over the next 8-10 years. Fruit sourced from Grant's Road, Waitaki Valley, fermented in stainless steel tank to 10% alc, 22.5 g/l RS. 19+/20 pts (96 pts) May 2021 RRP $30
Pegasus Bay Riesling 2019, North CanterburyRiesling from New Zealand - Canterbury & WaiparaReview Date : 02-Jul-2021Bright, pale yellow with a slight green hue, lighter on the rim. The nose has concentration and poise, nuances of mandarin, green apple, lime zest entwined with lime flowers. Medium-full bodied, medium-dry to taste, a concentrated core of green apple, mandarin and zest, apricots melded with honey, lime flower enriched by pollen and a hint of ginger. The palate is vibrant and refreshing; invigorating acidity flows with light honey syrup, rounded the palate. Purity of fruit layered with charming spice and floral elements. This is a medium-dry Riesling with pure fruit, multilayered richness and precision. Match with salted cod brandade and pork rillette over the next 10 years. Handpicked ripe grapes with a portion of botrytis, cool-fermented to 12% alc, 28 g/l RS. 19-/20 pts (95 pts) July 2021 RRP $30
Carrick Organic Josephine Riesling 2020, Central OtagoRiesling from New Zealand - Central Otago & WaitakiReview Date : 08-Sep-2021Bright, pale-yellow, even colour throughout. A small amount of effervescent settles in the glass. The nose is soft and delicate, aromas of ripe stonefruit, mango with a citrus underlay, sweet blossoms and zest unveil. Medium-full bodied, medium-sweet to taste, concentrated aromas of apricot, green mango entwined with lime and zest, sweet blossoms, and a hint of spice linger to a full-flavoured finish. The fruit sings ripe apricot and green mango; salivating acidity drives a focused, vibrant flow. The wine has excellent concentration and weight; balanced sweetness and acidity elevate the essence. Match with Sichuan Boiled fish and polenta & cheese fries over the next 8+ years. Fermented in tank to 9% alc, 48.4g/l RS. 18.5+/20 pts (94 pts) Sept 2021 RRP $34