Three Luscious Martinborough Wines

We needed some more white wine, so last week when I delivered some more James 05 Pinot Noir to Amanda at the Martinborough Wine Centre, I got her to talk me through a mixed purchase. I was only going to buy six bottles, but ended up with seven.

So far we’ve had three, and they’ve been adorable. First, I got Colin to “blind taste” the bottle of 2008 Dry River Gewurztraminer. He couldn’t pick what it was, mainly because he knew it was a New Zealand white, and we think too many New Zealand whites of the Riesling, Gewurtz, or Pinot Gris varieties are too dry – you can’t taste the fruit in them. Wine is, after all, just grape juice that’s been around for a while – who wants to drink something that no longer bears any resemblance to the noble fruit which was carefully nurtured to perfection in the vineyard? Well, I suppose a lot of people do, because uber-dry whites are very popular – just look at so much New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which sails out doors and down throats. Each to his own, and who am I to adversely judge what other people drink – at least they enjoy it.

Dry River has been around since 1979 when Dr Neil and Dawn McCallum started planting. Goodness they’ve worked hard over the years, and they deserve all the success they now enjoy. The vineyard’s now owned by Julian Robertson, but Neil still oversees all the viticulture and winemaking. This Gewurtz is just gorgeous – fruity, luscious, viscous – this is what Dry River says about it on their lovely website:

 “This is a bright light gold wine with an easily recognised Gewurztraminer nose. As the vines on this block have grown older, the spice fragrance from successive vintages has become more dominant – in the ’08 wine there are fruit cake spices, especially cloves coupled with the aromas of yellow peach and old fashioned roses on the nose. It has a residual sugar of around 20g/L but a voluptuousness and palate volume belying this. The flavours certainly make one sit up and take notice – powerful juicy yellow peach with ripe oranges (rather than the mandarin zest of the variety sourced from the home block) combine with Turkish delight and talc for a refreshing minerality and completed with oodles of spice – especially cloves. A very expressive wine: try with spicy roast pork belly or suckling pig with leeks.”

This is a special Gewurz – well worth the $55 we paid for it – and not to be guzzled down in one evening. Get ye to the Martinborough Wine Centre (online if you have to) and savour some.

The next night we opened Palliser Estate 2007 Chardonnay, which Amanda persuaded me to try. We’d gone off Chardonnay because I think in NZ it’s become too over-oaked, and has lost its lovely charm and complexity. (Except for Kumeu River Coddington Chardonnay, but more on that at a later post). This Palliser Esstate 2007 Chardonnay was the star at this year’s Bragato Awards, taking the gold medal for Chardonnay, the Tropgy for Reserve Wine of the Show, and the Champion Chardonnay. And it is well deserved. This is what Palliser Estate says of the wine on its website:

“Palliser Estate Chardonnay is a celebration of strong, citrusy fruit flavours, it is gently seasoned with oak, producing a delicious wine with subtle winemaking input and concentrated varietal flavours. Gracefulness, delicacy, finesse – these are its key attributes. The wine can cellar well for at least five years, but within three or four years its charms are fully revealed.” 

 We liked this wine so much I’ve phoned Amanda and ordered a dozen.

And finally, the Schubert Tribianca. Something new to try. Kai Schubert makes lovely wines, and has enjoyed international success. This is a cuvee of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Muller-Thurgau and it’s very, very good. Again, a luscious tasting wine, obviously made by someone with passion and attention to the finest details. Here’s what Schubert Wines say about it:

“Harvest and vinification – hand-picked, whole bunch pressed and partially fermented in new and used French Oak barriques and puncheons. Some maturaion “sure lie” with occasional “battonage”. Racking by gravity to keep maximum freshness of fermentation-CO2.” 

Now, much of this language is too technical for me, but I am not a winemaker, just the gofer girl in this vineyard, but I do know this is a wine well worth trying. Get ye, again I say, to Martinborough Wine Centre, or visit these vineyards and see for yourself. The weather’s just gorgeous over this way right now, and I can think of no nicer place to be. 








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