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Tasting Reviews




Dry River 2017 Autumn Release


10-Mar-2017
Around three weeks ago, last month, I visited Wilco Lam at Dry River, and caught up with the latest developments (click here to see my report). There are changes happening as part of the natural path of development and evolution of style through vine maturity, and partly also with an awareness of greater sophistication in wines being made now in general, as well as market trends and preferences. The changes are subtle but very positive from my perspective, and will help position Dry River for the future. The visit was very timely, as Dry River has just made their 2017 Autumn Release, and the wines reinforced the very consistency and subtle changes that are happening. www.dryriver.co.nz


Wilco Lam, Sarah Bartlett & Tom Hindmarsh
Dry River

Tasting the Wines
The 2017 Autumn Release Wellington mail order tasting was held at The Museum Hotel, as usual, and in attendance were Wilco Lam, assistant winemaker Tom Hindmarsh, and Sarah Bartlett who looks after marketing and communications. There were four wines on show: the 2016 vintage Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, as well as the 2015 Pinot Noir, the latter wine now sold out! A very useful initiative has been the introduction of formal sit-down tastings where current release are tasted with older wines, offering attendees the opportunity to see how the wines can develop over time, and also the chance to have a more focussed discussion with the winemaker.

With the current releases, what was particularly apparent was the nature of the 2016 vintage for the whites, the wines showing crisper acidity and slightly less unctuousness, but to compensate, greater aromatic focus and precision. The 2015 Pinot Noir had grown in richness since I reviewed it as a 2016 Spring Release sample in November last year. Here are my notes from the mail order tasting. I usually have the opportunity of looking at them more closely in ‘Feature Reviews’ later.

Dry River ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Riesling 2016 
Very pale straw colour, youthful in appearance. The nose is very fresh with a tightly bound core, showing lime fruit, white florals and thirst-quenching minerals. This has great aromatic purity and clarity. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the wine is tight and taut with limes, florals and minerals, the fruit weight providing a very fine textural line and considerable fruit extract. The acidity is crisp and zesty, a feature of the vitality. This will age well. Fruit from the ‘Craighall’ vineyard, fermented in tank to 11.5% alc. and 5 g/L RS. 19.0-/20 Mar 2017 RRP $47.00

Dry River Martinborough Pinot Gris 2016
Bright, light straw colour, pale on edge. This has a very firm and tightly concentrated nose showing pear fruit and exotic florals with good depth and intensity. The florals open with breadth revealing a range from white to yellow. Lovely fragrance here. Medium to taste and fullish bodied, the florality is the feature, with rose-petals and exoticism, developing spice notes. This is tightly bound with a concentrated core, not quite unctuous, but certainly rich. The acidity is integrated, and the wine has excellent linearity with some alcoholic power and drive. The wine retains a sense of elegance. Fruit approx. 60% from ‘Dry River Estate’ and 40% from ‘Craighall’, picked without botrytis to 13.5% alc. and 14 g/L RS. 19.0/20 Mar 2017 RRP $55.00

Dry River ‘Lovat’ Martinborough Gewurztraminer 2016 
Pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is intensely perfumed with rose-petal and exotic florals, notes of Turkish Delight, the aromatics with depth and penetration. Medium in sweetness and medium-full bodied, the palate has opulent and exotic flavours in the floral spectrum, with rose-petals and Turkish Delight and subtle notes of musk and honey. The wine is very smooth in texture, the phenolics totally integral, and the acidity providing good freshness and tension. There is some alcohol power, in excellent balance, driving the wine. This has linearity and length. Fruit from the ‘Lovat’ vineyard, fermented with 10% in oak to 13.5% alc. and 20 g/L RS. 19.0-/20 Mar 2017 RRP $47.00

Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir 2015 
Dark ruby-red colour with good depth. The nose has well-ripened dark-red and black berried fruits with nuances of dark red plums, unfolding an array of dark-red floral perfumes, and hints of dark herbs. A minerally edge is apparent to balance the fruit richness. Lovely detailing. Medium-full bodied, the palate features rich, sweet and plush fruit flavours of dark-red berry fruit and black cherries, along with notes of plums and liquorice. Some dark herb and floral lift provides elegance. The mouthfeel shows very fine-grained tannin extraction and excellent acid freshness and tension. The wine flows along a velvety line, carrying to a long, sustained, sweet fruited, bright finish with acid freshness. This is richer and more complete since last tasting. Fruit from the ‘Dry River Estate’, ‘Lovat’ and ‘Craighall’ sites, fermented with 30% whole clusters to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 15% new 300 L and 350 L hogsheads. 19.5-/20 Mar 2017 RRP $86.50

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