Hurrah, the wine fairy has been to town! For those who don’t know, the wine fairy is a friend who will, from time to time, pop up out of nowhere to bestow upon me some wines to taste. These can be pricey or inexpensive, New Zealand made or not. Red, white, sticky, still or sparkling. The one thing they have in common is that they’re wines I can learn a little something from. I ran into him at the Escarpment tasting a week or so ago and went away with the Dry River 2012 release to taste. (What luck!)
Dry River is one of the big founding four in Martinborough, along with Martinborough Vineyard, Chifney and Ata Rangi, these make up the wineries that planted the region’s first vines. Of these four, a trio remains with Chifney having been pulled into Margrain Vineyard.
Dry River reds are fairly hard to come by in shops, their whites slightly easier to track down. Most of their range is available only to their exclusive mailing list clientèle. Therefore the opportunity to taste a full release range in one sitting, for me, is a little something special.
The wines are…
Dry River Pinot Gris 2012 (13.5% alc/vol RRP $55)
Pinot Gris by reputation is a delicate flower, it can be overwhelmed by most foods. With subtlety being a core part of it’s character, in New Zealand – home of punchy Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Gris can easily be overlooked. The Dry River Pinot Gris is about as rich and powerfully intense as the variety gets. A clean, clear, pale lemon wine with moderate aromatic intensity, a well-chilled glass will reward you with aromas of citrus, apple flesh, white florals and ripe, juicy pears. As the wine warms in the glass these white, fleshy elements transform into spicy notes of ginger and nutmeg. A medium-sweet wine with medium body and fresh, crisp acidity, there is an intensity of nuttiness, peach and nectarine. The wine has a medium finish with lingering notes of almond paste. An easy drinking white packed with enough fresh and lively character to hold your interest, even when partial to the stronger, more upfront Sauvs.
Dry River Late Harvest Riesling 2012 (10.5% alc/vol RRP $59)
Within this single post I will be exposing two of my biggest biases, first up, I love a Riesling – dry, off-dry, sweet or late harvest, I’ll drink ’em all. Riesling has become so fashionable of late that some long-time wine lovers have discounted it as a fad and refuse to succumb to the amorous embrace of the grape’s many faces. I liked Rieslings before I knew enough about wine to understand that they were the current it wine. From my notes the Dry River Late Harvest Riesling is off the hook. As a late harvest wine, the Riesling is dripping with honeyed sweetness, but as a whole it’s not all sugar, fruit and honey as it has a more savoury nature to it with notes of musk on the palate. Sweet and full-bodied, there is a smooth acidity and a good balance. This is a really rich, sophisticated wine with good structure and powerful intensity of flavour.
Dry River Gewurtztraminer 2012 (14.5% alc/vol RRP $44)
Time for my second bias of the post – I hate roses. As a flavour, or an aroma, in hand creams, Turkish delight treats or wine, it’s really not for me. A really unfortunate inclination when tasting Gewurtztraminer. The 2012 Dry River Gewurtztraminer was bursting with aromas of roses, perfumed and potpourri. A clean, clear pale lemon with off-dry sweetness, medium body and crisp acidity. On the palate there is good balance here with sweet spice and cloves rounding out the presence of more roses. Highly aromatic, with a nice structure, this a is a fantastically well-made wine that is best served young to make the most of it’s aromatic intensity. I expect this would pair nicely with a richly fragrant Thai meal.
Dry River Pinot Noir 2011 (13.1%alc/vol RRP $83.50)
The 2011 Pinot Noir was still a bit young for drinking and should be put somewhere cool and dark for another couple of years. That being said, when you reacquaint yourself a ways down the road I expect you’ll find a very pleasant and engaging red. Clean and clear the wine had a deep ruby rim with a purely purple centre. There were aromas of musk, forest floor and liquorice mixing with black and red fruits. On the palate the Pinot was bone dry with a fresh acidity, medium tannins and medium bodied with leathery and earthy notes along with a good amount of fruit. As you would expect from an iconic brand like Dry River this wine has been crafted with long term cellaring in mind and has all of the necessary structure and balance in place to ensure this wine will be well rewarded by doing so