General Blog

Dry River 2014 Spring Release Tasting

By September 22, 2014No Comments

Siobhan, Nicola, winemaker Wilco and David

Dry River make two releases every year, one at the start of autumn and one at the start of spring. While both releases have wines of real interest, the ‘Spring Release’ includes the first wines from the current vintage. From what I understand, Wilco Lam and Ant Mackenzie found 2014 to be an interesting vintage to manage. While the overall heat accumulation was on par with the Martinborough district’s long term average, the early budburst and protracted flowering resulted in a spread of ripening. The growing season was thus early, but the fruit required constant monitoring for awareness of the different stages of maturity, while supressing disease pressure from high humidity. The Dry River team aimed to capture the diversity of fruit flavour nuance whilst ensuring proper ripeness and health.

I had a preview of some of the wines in this Spring Release during a quick visit at the start of August (click here to see my report). I was impressed with what I tasted. It was good to see some of these wines again, further down the track, nearly two months later. And no doubt, I’ll have the opportunity of conducting ‘Feature Reviews’ of the wines in due course. www.dryriver.co.nz


Dry River fans with general manager Ant Mackenzie (R)

The Tasting
It was very pleasing to see a strong crowd of mail order clientele at the Wellington tasting conducted at the Museum Hotel. I believe that Dry River followers have seen the seamless transition of the business with no alteration in quality or style. Here are my impressions of the wines being poured.

Dry River ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Riesling 2014
Bright, very pale straw-yellow with slight green hues. This has a beautifully pure nose of limes, florals and minerals, the clarity, intensity and finesse of expression simply breath taking. Very dry to taste, with just enough sweetness to provide luscious detail and poise, avoiding any sense of austerity. Pristine white florals and lime fruit, superb vibrancy and vitality, youthfully tight and taut, but hinting at the richness and character within. This will aged very well. Is it ‘Amaranth’ material? Maybe not, as it is classical rather than individual. Fruit from the ‘Craighall’ vineyard, 11.5% alc. and 5.5 g/L RS. 19.5-/20 RRP $44.00

Dry River Martinborough Chardonnay 2013
Very pale straw with youthful green hues. The nose is very soft and gentle with its density and depth. Subtle and classical white stonefruit aromas revealing mealy interest, and fine nutty oak. Extremely elegant on palate, easy to overlook if taking a cursory look. Sweet and luscious white stonefruit and citrus fruit flavours, with positive meal, nutty oak. The mouthfeel is poised with acid freshness and cut, a fine textural line and concentration at the heart. This speaks of white burgundy; I was placing it between Puligny-Montrachet and modern, elegant Meursault. Fruit primarily from ‘Dry River’ and ‘Craighall’ with some ‘St Martin’ fruit. Fully barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc. Aged 9 months in oak, one of the 9 barrels new. 18.5+/20 RRP $54.00

Dry River ‘Craighall’ Martinborough Tempranillo 2012
Even ruby-red colour with moderate depth. Quite elegant and tightly bound on nose with true red fruits, raspberries and strawberries and some savoury dried herb-stalky notes, cool but not unripe, this grows in togetherness in the glass. Medium-bodied, fresh and juicy at the core, quite elegant and light in extract and structure, and really more up-front. There is an underlying acidity carrying the line to the finish. This seems light and cool, but just steps into something interesting as it breathes. My rating conservative. 12.5% alc., 12 months in 2 y.o. oak. Second release of this variety by Dry River. 16.5+/20 RRP $59.00

Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013 Tank Sample 
This particular sample an assemblage identical to the finished wine, but from tank. The remainder of the wine has now been finished and fully bottled at the time of this Spring Release tasting. Deep ruby-red colour. This is tight and densely concentrated on the bouquet, revealing wonderful floral perfumes from a core of red and black berry fruits, entwined with iron-earth and minerally elements. There is much more to unfold. Medium-full bodied, sweetly ripe dark red berry and cherry fruits lie at the heart. Attractively luscious plum, liquorice and spice notes unfold showing the detail packed into this wine. This is firm and concentrated with fine tannin balance, and the wine exudes ‘pinosity’ rather than extravagance and opulence. Somewhat restrained and a tad shy, thus demonstrating style. This will blossom enormously with time. 13.0% alc, with 30% whole clusters, the wine aged 12 months in less than 20% new 300-350 L barrels. Provisional score: (18.5+/20) Offered En Primeur with November release. $435.00 per 6-pack

Dry River ‘Lovat’ Martinborough Syrah 2008 
Library stock. Dark ruby-red, still youthful. This is elegant in presentation, but fully vibrant and lively with plenty of red berry, plum and peppery fruit, unfolding floral perfumes with savoury secondary elements emerging, along with nuances of earth and minerals. Fine and elegant, but with a sense of sinewy fruit, piquant acid liveliness and peppery, savoury, secondary fruit. Spicy black and red berries, earth and the beginnings of leather, yet rich in fruit sweetness, juxtaposed to brisk acidity and firm tannin line. Maybe in between outright fruitiness and complexing development, and a little ungainly, but there’s definite Syrah character here. 12.5% alc, aged 12 months in 20% new oak. 18.5/20 RRP $N/A

Dry River ‘Dry River Estate’ Martinborough Viognier 2014
Very pale straw colour. This is fresh, tight and steely, with floral depth rather than multi-layered with stonefruit aromas. Lovely purity and focus of white florals with hints of exoticism. Dry to taste, there is a subtle sweetness and richness to the linear flavours. Lovely detail suggesting lusciousness but countered by emerging refined textures and some alcohol drive. This has linear power, carrying the wine to a long finish. Purity rather than opulence here, and more singular than dimensional. 14.5% alc. and 6 g/L RS, and no oak influence. This is slowly inching towards a dryer style as the vines become more balanced. I understand Dry River are very pleased with the degree of nuance here. 18.0/20 RRP $47.00


Winemaker Wilco Lam (L) with three happy Dry River clientele

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