Tasting Reviews

Glengarry’s New Zealand Summer of Riesling

The ‘Summer of Riesling’ movement now has the impetus to carry on without any major involvement from Angela Clifford and Duncan Forsyth, who first introduced the promotion to New Zealand in 2011. It has always been a self-motivated exercise, without any strict structure or guidelines, relying on the passion of wine resellers, sommeliers and wine writers to espouse the virtues of the noble Riesling variety in the way best suited to them.

Meredith Parkin at Glengarry Thorndon Quay, Wellington is a passionate Riesling enthusiast who has included tastings of Riesling in her tasting calendar. The first event was of New Zealand Rieslings, this to be followed by a tasting of examples from Alsace and Germany. I attended the tasting of New Zealand Rieslings, where she presented nine very interesting and high quality wines in three flights of three, the wines served open (i.e. not blind). The wines spanned the country from Gisborne to Central Otago, and from vintages 2014 to 2011. They included dry, medium and sweet examples. I’ve already reviewed most of the wines, so it was a pleasure to see how they looked in another setting, in the company of other good wines, and with a group of experienced tasters. My notes on the wines, in the order of presentation follow. www.glengarry.co.nz

Flight One: Drier Riesling
Nga Waka Martinborough Riesling Dry 2011
Full, even, lemon hued straw-yellow colour. The bouquet is intense and concentrated with aromas of limes and toast, beginning to show secondary complexities and development. The aromatics are harmonious and integrated, with a fruit freshness still underlying. Dry to taste, this is fulsome with body, intensity and weight, quite solid in presentation, the mouthfeel showing some roundness. Up-front and full flavours of lime fruit and toast are enriched with honied elements. Soft phenolic textures are a feature and the acidity is also soft, carrying the wine to a long finish with bitter citrus fruit nuances. This is a full, flavoursome dry Riesling showing bottle aged toasty interest. It is showing well now, but will develop over 4+ years. Fruit from the ‘Home Block’ cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.0% alc. and 6.5 g/L RS, TA 7.1 g/L and pH 3.1. 18.0/20 Feb 2015 RRP $21.99

Muddy Water ‘James Hardwick’ Waipara Riesling 2012
Bright, light straw-yellow colour with pale green hues on rim. This has a fine and subtle nose with complex, savoury flinty and nutty nuanced florals and citrus fruit aromas, intricately interwoven revealing a fresh, steely core. Off-dry to taste, the palate features a tight concentrated heart and line with savoury, funky, lime and toast flavours entwined with exotic florals, homey and flinty, reductive elemnts. The wine flows along a fine-textured, tightly bound line, carrying through to a concentrated, lingering finish. This will keep another 5-6+ years. Hand-picked fruit from 12 y.o. vines, WBP and indigenous yeast fermented to 11.5% alc. and 11 g/L RS, the wine aged 6 months on lees. 18.5-/20 Feb 2015 RRP $31.90

Rimu Grove Nelson Riesling 2012 
Pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues. The nose is delicate and gentle with fresh lime and floral aromas, along with subtle honey and toasty notes. This is soft and detailed. Medium-dry to taste, light fruit flavours of green apples, limes and florals are expressed with some succulence and lusciousness. The palate has suggestions of honey and toast. The mouthfeel is refreshing with pin-point acidity lending finesse and focus to the palate. This is fine in textures and has beauty with elegance. The wine will develop over the next 4-5+ years. Fruit from the Moutere clays and Waimea Plains, hand-picked and partially destemmed, given some skin contact and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.0% alc. and 18 g/L RS, TA8.5 g/L and pH 2.98 18.0+/20 Feb 2015 RRP $24.99

Flight Two: Medium-Dry to Medium Riesling
Tongue in Groove Waipara Valley Riesling 2012 
Bright, even, light straw-yellow colour with some golden hues. The bouquet is full and rich with vibrant and lively aromas of ripe yellow stonefruits, limes and yellow florals, along with layers of honeysuckle and some secondary toasty interest. Medium-dry to taste, a tight and firm, solid core forms the heart and line on the palate. Flavours of exotic florals, stonefruits, honey and toast unfold. The mouthfeel is fresh and lively from the fresh, lacy acidity and a little spritz. This has real drive, the firm and concentrated line carrying through to a long, lingering, dry finish of honey and toast. This is a rich and concentrated wine that will develop over the next 4-5 years. Fruit from ‘The Mound’ vineyard with 5% botrytis infection, given 2-3 hours skin contact and cool-fermented to 12.5% alc., 12 g/L RS, TA 7.5 g/L and pH 3.2, the wine aged on lees 4-5 months. 18.5/20 Feb 2015 RRP $38.99

Pegasus Bay Waipara Valley Riesling 2012 
Bright, even straw-yellow colour with some golden depth. The nose is full, densely packed and broad with complexing layers of ripe citrus and tropical fruits lifted by exotic florals and enriched by musky, marmalade botrytis and honied notes. The nose is quite complete in expression. Medium-dry to taste, this is rich, lush and layered on palate with s concentrated heart, packed with flavours of citrus fruits, honey, marmalade and toast. The mouthfeel is soft and succulent, and very fine-textured, the palate refreshed and enlivened by very fine, lacy acidity. The flavours show with great richness and length, and is harmoniously complete. This is richness with underlying finesse, and will keep 5-6+ years. Late-picked fruit cool-fermented in tank to 12.5% alc. and 23.5 g/L RS with TA 7.6 g/L. 19.0+/20 Feb 2015 RRP $29.99

Mt Difficulty ‘Target’ Bannockburn Central Otago Medium Riesling 2013 
Pale straw-yellow colour with a pale edge. The nose is one of finesse, delicacy and purity with refined lime, lemon, white floral and mineral aromas. This is sleek and mouth-wateringly beautiful. Medium to medium-sweet to taste and light-bodied, the mouthfeel is refreshing, steely and cutting with thirst-quenching acidity providing vitality and poise, balancing the residual sweetness. Tightly bounf fruit flavours of limes, white florals and minerals, reveal honeysuckle notes. This has great tension and energy as it flows along a knife edge of acidity, leading to a luscious, intense, long-lingering finish. This is a beautifully poised, pure, sweeter Riesling of real finesse. 6+ years. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Long Gully’ and ‘Target Gully’ vineyards, cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 11.5% alc. and 40 g/L RS, TA 8.2 g/L and pH 2.9 19.0-/20 Feb 2015 RRP $27.99

Flight Three: Medium Sweet Riesling
Millton ‘Opou Vineyard’ Gisborne Riesling 2013
Bright, very pale straw colour, pale on rim. This has a very elegant and soft nose with finely presented limes, white and yellow florals and subtly integrated toasty nuances. This has delicacy and beauty with its softness. Medium-sweet to taste, lush flavours of citrus and tropical fruits are intermixed with honey and toasty elements. The mouthfeel is soft-textured and underlined by ripe, sift acidity. A fine, smooth core and phenolic thread guides the wine to a refined, delicate and honey-nuanced finish. This is a beautifully soft, gently luscious, delicately honied wine with 4-5+ years ahead. Hand-picked fruit from the ‘Opou’ vineyard, partly WBP and a portion given skin contact, cool-fermented to 9.5% alc. and 40 g/L RS, TA 7.1 g/L and pH 3.3, the wine aged 6 months on lees. Certified BioGro organic and Demeter biodynamic. 18.5+/20 Feb 2015 RRP $29.99

Rockburn ‘Tigermoth’ Central Otago Riesling 2013 
Brilliant pale straw-yellow with slight green hues. The nose is tightly bound with a fine and intense core of white florals and savoury citrus fruit aromas, along with mouthwatering mineral detail. Medium-sweet to taste, savoury lime and white floral fruits are complexed by mineral notes. Sweet and sour orchard fruits and racy acidity enliven the mouthfeel, and the wine follows a tight, fine-textured phenolic line. The palate has a low pH tautness. This is crisp, zesty and energetic, the acid cut balancing the residual sugar and leading the wine to an off-dry finish with tangerine and mineral notes. This is a taut, medium-sweet Riesling with the ability to keep 5-6+ years. Fruit from the ‘Parkburn’ vineyard cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 9.5% alc. and 61.4 g/L RS, TA 9.2 g/L and pH 2.87. 300 cases made. 18.0+/20 Feb 2015 RRP $34.00

Felton Road ‘Block 1’ Central Otago Riesling 2014 
Full, even, bright straw-yellow colour with slight green hues. The nose possesses beautiful purity and clarity of white florals, lime fruit and mineral detail, the aromatics refined, but with focus, precision and concentration. Medium in sweetness, piquant and aromatic fruit flavours of limes, white florals and honeysuckle show with poised richness on the palate, countered by thirst quenching, lacy and racy acidity. The flavours and mouthfeel exude delicacy, subtle succulence, beautiful and refreshing tension and cut. There is no lack of depth or concentration, the wine focussed and tight, but also refined and seamless. Sheer balance and finesse, that will rival the best of the Mosel. 8-10 years. Hand-picked fruit from ‘Block 1’, from 22 y.o. vines, WBP and cool-fermented by indigenous yeasts to 8.5% alc. and 68 g/L RS, the wine aged on fine lees. 19.5+/20 Feb 2015 RRP $42.00

This was a very interesting and high quality selection of New Zealand Rieslings by Meredith Parkin. The spread of regions was good, from Gisborne to Central Otago, with different ranges and sweetness levels. They demonstrated the breadth of styles and characters possible.

The grouping of the wines into three flights, from drier to sweeter, was also done well. With the benefit of hindsight, it may have been better to have the Millton in Flight Two, with the Tongue in Groove and Pegasus Bay, these wines with a softer and weightier mouthfeel. The sweetness level and lower alcohol of the Millton may not have been so obvious alongside these wines, whereas with the Central Otago Rieslings in Flight Three, the wine looked soft, broad and definitely warmer, even though it was comparably low in alcohol. This change would have had the Mt Difficulty ‘Target’ with other Central Otago wines, which although the Rockburn and Felton Road were higher in residual sugar, did not taste much sweeter.

The expression of regionality came through (well, in my mind and on my palate, anyway) with almost all the wines, the Central Otago wines displaying ‘minerality’. Here, varietal character was allowed to feature prominently without to many other inputs. The Tongue in Groove and Pegasus Bay showed ‘house style’ over the Waipara Valley regionality. These wines are made from late-picked fruit with botrytis infection, bottled with spritz and allowed to shows some developmental complexities.

I was pleased with my view of the wines. The ones I had previously seen seemed very similar again. A degree of consistency is a good result! Some had developed to show better, which is the nature of Riesling. My love affair with the variety continues. Thanks Meredith for hosting this tasting!

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