The Urlar winegrowing operation of Angus and Davina Thomson near Gladstone in the Wairarapa vignoble has quickly become one of the benchmarkers for the district, along with Gladstone Vineyard. Both share the approach of responsible land management, but Urlar has staked their position of growing biodynamically and organically with their early BioGro organic certification. It’s something that the Thomsons and their viticulturist and winemaker Guy McMaster are very passionate about, in having the land and their vines in the best condition, as that’s how the wines show quality, from the ground up. The Urlar production is relatively small, and with the growing demand for their wine, there’s no scope for second labels which fruit not up to par can go into. So it all has to be as good as it can be.
Urlar’s Sauvignon Blanc utilises a small percentage, around 10%, of barrel-fermented wine, which adds a touch of breadth, weight and texture to the final wine. However, Guy is quite taken by the barrel component. The wood is well-seasoned, past the point of any wood flavour input. Guy has two barrels of 2012, which he’d dearly love to bottle as a separate wine. It had the extra depth over the regular wine, and the flavours were brought out more too, with a sweeter nectarine note showing. I wouldn’t have minded a touch of new oak, but Guy wasn’t keen on that. The other 2012 white in barrel was the Pinot Gris. All old barrels, full MLF and more lees work. This was very rich, showing the MLF and oak in a lovely dense and textured amalgam. There’s fruit there too, and I can see this polished up to a flavoursome and layered dry style.