These notes accompany a in-depth report from New Zealand. Please also see Regional report: New Zealand: a focus on Pinot Noir and Riesling.
Waipara / Canterbury
Waipara West Riesling 2008
Whole bunches, with some lees ageing. Slightly neutral nose, with pleasant lime blossom notes, the palate nice and juicy lively, just off dry to a touch peachy softness. 86/100.
Mountford Riesling 2009
Lemon and gently herbal aromas, a little phenolic, skinny note. The palate has plenty of sweetness, clear peach juice character, with lots of juicy, fresh lemony acidity. Lovely tang here. 87/100.
Ataahua Riesling 2010
Grassy tones here, with a little yeasty, waxy fruit skin quality. There’s a grippy phenolic character to this wine, with a rich mouth-feel and lovely length and focus with lots of fruit and great balance. 89/100.
Waipara Springs Dry Riesling 2009
Nicely fresh, apple fruit with a little apple skin bite. Nicely balanced palate, the fruit staying keen and sharp, with some peachy notes and very nice, fresh finish. Belies its 14% ABV. 87/100.
Waipara Springs Premo Dry Riesling 2009
Attractive, herbal and lightly doughy notes, quite intense lime fruit. Big, juicy grapefruit finish, with lovely acidity and real persistence. Balanced and very attractive, with a gently smoky minerality. 90/100.
Waipara Springs Riesling 2009
Pleasantly smooth and silky, with an orangy tang and lemon peel lick of richness. Very nice mouth-feel, with the sugar giving a very nice feel, balancing plenty of racy acidity. 88/100.
Sherwood Clearwater Riesling 2005
Very nice and juicy, a note of very ripe red pepper, very juicy and sweet and hanging together very nicely. 88/100.
Sherwood Riesling 2005
Delicious, lightly honeyed and toasty hints of development, lovely glace fruit elegance and shimmering. 88/100.
Thornbury Riesling 2008
Slightly dull aromatics, the nose not showing much zing and the palate fruity and enjoyable, but not distinctive. 85/100.
Black Estate Riesling 2010
Lea & Sandeman. Very crisp, a touch of leesiness in the background. Nicely skinny and grippy, with the very punchy apricot and peach punch. Just off dry, but ripe and rich. 89/100.
Black Estate Riesling 2009
Fine nose, quite appley and dry, some nice phenolics just adding a little grip. More luscious style, with great style and lovely length and balance. 88/100.
Black Estate Riesling 2008
Apricot and open orangy fruit, with lots of lime and really nice waxy tones and textures. Delicious and tangy in the finish. 89/100.
Greystone Riesling 2010
Lovely fresh, clean style. Very nice sweet fruit, with lots of charming, fruity style. Long and shimmering, with a rally juicy mandarin orange finish. 90/100.
Greystone Sea Star Riesling 2010
Dry, slightly funky wild ferment style, with a little bruised apple quality. The palate has an open, dry flavour and clear textures, the acidity very lemony and crisp, a bit of phenolic grip too. 89/100.
Greystone Feather Star Riesling 2010
A little dull at this stage, not singing aromatically. The palate has lots of lemony fruit, but with a super-sweet, peachy overlay and the acidity is very nicely integrated. 88/100.
Weka River Riesling 2009
Not fantastically aromatic, but has a really nicely pitched, gently juicy and ripe stone fruit character. The palate has good acids, lots of lime and lemon clarity and nice balance. 88/100.
Muddy Water dry Riesling 2009
Certified organic. Lovely lemony quality, a touch of lemon meringue pie delicacy. The palate is pretty dry, with really nice, tangy acidity and very good zingy brightness. 88/100.
Muddy Water Reloaded Riesling 2009
aged in old oak puncheons, but otherwise the same as the dry. Much less fruity, but with more complex aromatics, a bit of oxidation adding cidery tones. Bright and impressively focused, the fruit is beautifully punchy and tangy, with extra concentration. 91/100.
Muddy Water unplugged Riesling 2009
A mix of Botrytis and clean fruit, 77gl of residual sugar. A little toast and lots of apricot ripe fruit. Full and luscious, really lovely fruit concentration here: a hugely grippy wine without losing precision and finesse, and very impressive. 92/100.
Dancing Water Oneuku Riesling 2008
Very nice, if slightly muted nose, with a bit of bready quality. The palate is very dry, with skinny, grippy flavours and phenolics. Tangy, pithy acidity and focus, but a little one dimensional perhaps. 88/100.
Dancing Water Oneuku Riesling 2009
Much more vibrant and orangy, with punchier fruit and a tangy apply skin quality. The palate seems very dry, a pithy lemon fruit and acidity and bit of real phenolic punch. Needs food, in an Austrian style, but very punchy and powerful. Perhaps a touch hot. 90/100.
Dancing Water Kamaka Riesling 2008
A little bit vegetal and herbal, a little bit oxidised, the full, weighty palate has a nice depth of apricotty fruit and lots of tangy, punchy acidity. Delicious, full with sweetness powering through. 89/100.
Dancing Water Reka Riesling 2008
Second pick of the Oneuku vineyard, two weeks later, with 60% Botrytis. A little apricot and subtle lemon confit notes, but rather subdued. The palate has delicious acidity, lots of vibrancy and really captures a shimmering Spätlese balance and tension. 90/100.
Pegasus Bay Bel Canto Riesling 2009
New Generation. Nicely leafy and toasty edges, a pleasantly vegetal feel and mineral hints. The palate is bone dry, with really concentrated fruit and a touch of lemon rind. Really nice wine, with racy acidity and punchy phenolics. Big and bonny. 90/100.
Pegasus Bay Riesling 2009
Stone fruit aromas, a little lemony brightness, the palate showing a little ripeness, but mostly the impression is of the citrussy fruit and acidity, just little sweet edges. 88/100.
Pegasus Bay Aria Riesling 2009
Very nice, sweet, beautifully ripe apricot fruit. A fair degree of sweetness here: a little passionfruit and mango exotic character, and lovely acids. 90/100.
Pegasus Bay Bel Canto Riesling 2010
I like the mineral, gently stony character here, with great finesse. The palate has lovely freshness and great. Tang and grippy brightness in the finish. 90/100.
Crater Rim Canterbury Riesling 2010
Funky, nicely yeasty, with a bit of clove and mineral and a palate that has lots of fresh acidity to balance some sugar. Wild ferment. 89/100. Lea & Sandeman.
Crater Rim From the Ashes Riesling 2010
Very fine herb and apple nose, lots of bright, lightly figgy fruit, but really the crunchy apple freshness comes through. The palate has lovely delicacy and balance. Tangy and very drinkable. 90/100.
Crater Rim Waipara Riesling 2010
More orangy and gently clove like notes here, with a touch of herbs and a nice zestiness. Lovely palate too, with more residual sugar apparent on the palate than the Ashes, and a terrific balance and edge of shimmering acidity. 90/100.
Crater Rim Dr Kohls Riesling 2008
50% Botrytis, wild ferment for over 12 months. Smoky, flinty, sulphidic character with more minerality. The palate has lovely exotic fruit – pineapple and mango, and a great tang of tangerine acidity and concentration. 91/100.
Terrace Edge Riesling 2009
Nicely leesy and gently yeasty, a touch of cider, and the palate a little flabby (though bottle rather warm). 86/100.
See all Waipara Riesling on wine-searcher.
THE RIESLING CHALLENGE
From the 2010 harvest, a single block of Riesling from the Waipara Valley was picked, chilled, and sent to 12 different winemakers across New Zealand who crushed, pressed, and fermented the grapes in any manner they saw fit, in stainless steel or oak, to produce their best Riesling wine, dry or sweet. Part of the thinking behind the challenge was to test the age old debate of whether great wine is more the product of a great vineyard, or could be created by the skills of a great winemaker. Some of the country’s top winemakers rose to the challenge. Though I enjoyed this tasting enormously and love the idea, there were some flaws with this first iteration of the concept. One is that in truth the wines were not very good overall, which was not down to the winemakers, but fruit here was not ‘great’ to begin with: there was a green, underripe character running through all of these wines, no matter what style. Secondly of course, it really proves nothing other than being a fun and intriguing exercise; the other side of the nature vs man debate would need fruit from 12 different vineyards made with absolutely identical treatment, to see if that produced more differences than 12 different winemakers. The “winner” of this first challenge was Mat Donaldson of Pegasus Bay, voted for by his fellow winemakers. Tasted blind, the winemaker for each wine was revealed afterwards.
2010 Waipara Rieslings
Ant McKenzie, Te Awa Wines, Hawkes Bay
With only 12% alcohol, this has a rather neutral nose and some lemony fruit and a squirt of juiciness, but not distinguished. 85/100
Larry McKenna, Escarpment, Martinborough
12.8% alcohol here, and a sweet edge to the apricotty fruit, but it is a touch thin on the mid-palate, finishing just a little watery. 85/100
Mike Brown, Golden Hills Estates, Nelson
11.5% alcohol. Juicy, easy-going and quite peachy fruit. Palate rather citrussy and a touch too thin, though the touch of residual sugar adds some rounding length. 85/100
Paul Bourgeois, Spy Valley, Marlborough
12& alcohol here, and the wine is open and lightly oxidised, more sulphidic than most, but that helps emphasise a touch of stony mineral character. Huge grapefruity push of fruit, even though it finishes a touch short. 87/100 Jules Taylor, Jules Taylor Wines, Marlborough
11.5% alcohol, and a delicate, peachy ripeness on the nose, even a little floral aspect. Good acidity with some grapefruity, dry and pithy character playing against the sweetness. 88/100
John Taylor, John Forrest, Marlborough
Only 9% alcohol. A little neutral and flat on the nose, a touch green. Lemony on the palate, though pleasantly sweet and decent balance. 85/100
Simon Waghorn, Astrolabe Wines, Marlborough
9.4% alcohol, and not terribly aromatic, but then in the mouth had a lively presence. Lovely grippy touches of phenolic character in the off-dry finish. 88/100
Patrick Materman, Pernod Ricard NZ, Marlborough
10.5% alcohol. Peachy and lightly sulphidic, with a touch of bruised apple. Quite a lean, lemony palate, and verging on the austere, the freshening acidity a touch prominent. 87/100
Simon McGeorge, Waipara Hills, Waipara
12.8% alcohol. More open, peachy style than many, with a touch of oxidative character. The sweetness balances, but lacks a touch of finesse as in the Jules Taylor bottling for example. 87/100
Matt Donaldson, Pegasus Bay, Waipara
10% alcohol. Peachy, delicate nose. Quite precise, the palate showing a richness through the middle but also a fresh, limey fruit tang. My favourite wine so far. 89/100
Duncan Forsyth, Mount Edward, Central Otago
12.4% alcohol. Wheat beer and yeast on the nose suggests a bold attempt at something natural and different, but the palate is phenolic and very flat in the finish. 83/100
Matt Dicey, Mount Difficulty, Central Otago
12.5% alcohol. A little greenness to the fruit on the nose, but the palate is spiked with punchy lemon and lime and the sweetness gives very nice balance overall. 88/100
Notes from International tasting seminars held during the ‘In Praise of Riesling’ event in Waipara, New Zealand in 2011. I was on one of the three panels whose task it was to talk about the wines. The Aussie contender was easy to spot, and the German wines often shared the most delicate chracter with real finesse, as might perhaps be expected. The picture shows the main event space, in the barrel cellars of Pegasus Bay.
Weingut Keller Von der Fels Trocken 2008, Germany
Pretty ungenerous nose, very little fruit, but some salty notes. Delicate palate with some delightful stone fruit flavours and a hint of juicy nectarine into a long, clear finish.
Dönnhoff Brücke Spätlese 2009, Germany
Little sign of any Botrytis richness here, no exotic fireworks but a controlled tangerine tang. A light, shimmering but not terribly complex wine.
Müller Catoir Mandelgarten Spätlese Trocken 2009, Germany
Quite supressed aromatically, with a big lemony palate that is extremely pure but decisive, with a little hint of peach though no great complexity.
Heymann Löwenstein Röttgen Grosses Gewachs 2009, Germany
Lovely nose, some aromatic minerals, stone fruits and hints of beeswax. Some honey on the palate, with a limpid clarity and nice texture, off-dry peachy fruit but a lovely lemon rind freshness.
Bott-Gel, Schöenenberg Riesling Grand Cru 2007, France
Smooth, rich, very weighty but composed. Colour is darker and older, and it has a very, very dry lemon and grapefruit pith palate.
Hirtzberger Stezberg Smaragd 2009, Austria
A little more honey and candied peel here, but clean and focused. A rich, mouth-filling texture and plenty of peachy fruit into a long, crisply focused finish.
Pichler Loibner Berg Smaragd 2009, Austria
Lovely lifted, sherbetty brightness here, a touch of kerosene and lime. But there are floral notes too in a complex picture. Off-dry, there is great intensity to the fruit and beautiful balance.
Weingut Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Spätlese 2007, Germany
A lovely nose here, with an immaculately light touch of florality to nectarine fruit. On the palate too, a seriously juicy wine with an endless finish and rapier-like acidity. Fabulous.
Weingut Knebel Röttgen Spätlese Trocken 2009, Germany
A little petrol and honey here suggests richness. Broad and almost nutty on the palate, but the fruit becomes tropical and the acidity pushes through nicely.
Weingut Karlsmühle Lorenzhofer Auslese Long Golf Capsule 2009, Germany
Ripe, peachy nose, with an appealing glacé fruit character. Gorgeous limpid stuff on the palate, with knife-edge acidity to balance the sweet fruit in a long, precise finish.
Weingut Dr H Thanisch Bernkastler Doctor Kabinett 2007, Germany
More richness here, a little age too, with dried fruits and the palate opening up to a terrific pineapple brightness and great acidity pushing into a long finish.
Weingut Whittmann Aulerde Grosses Gewachs 2009, Germany
Almost yeasty, oatmeally quality here is unusual, and very restrained. The palate has some tropical fruit and then lime pushes through, with weight and texture.
Weingut Clemens Busch Marienburg Fahrlay Grosses Gewachs 2009, Germany
Tiny honey and toffeed notes here, much more ripe and open than some, even a slightly oxidative note that is pleasing. Palate is peachy and exuberant, with apricot richness over a nice, mineral acidity.
Weingut JJ Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese LGC 2009, Germany
Very ripe, full apricot lusciousness here, with some glacé fruit. Glorious palate, precise and long, the sweet fruit shimmering against the acidity.
Weingut Van Volxem Goldberg Spätlese 2009, Germany
Beautiful lime purity here over a little apricot note of richness. Perfectly balanced palate, the lightly grippy character giving this a racy authority despite quite lush fruit.
Weingut Koehler-Ruprecht Saumagen Spätlese Trocken 2009, Germany
A touch of yeast and minerals onto a waxy-textured palate. Very dry indeed, with some phenolic grip and power but good length.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Columbia Valley Riesling 2009, USA
Restrained on the nose, but a subtle edge of nectarine ripeness. The palate is off-dry, with a really tangy, juicy character though it is fairly simple and only moderately long.
Grosset Watervale Dry Riesling 2009, Australia
Much more kerosene and flinty notes here, very limey and Australian in profile. The palate is searingly dry and citrussy, but it finishes running to a fine, long point.
Mike Weerisng (right, on his farm at feeding time) trained at the University of Dijon, then travelled around Europe as he says “working for my heroes.” That included a stint with Marcel Deiss and Marc Kreydenweiss in Alsace, and with Hubert de Montille, Domaine de la Pousse d’Or and Nicolas Potel in Burgundy. Eventually he settled in New Zealand, finding work as winemaker at Neudorf estate in Marlborough where he stayed for five years. During that time he began a search for a vineyard that would meet the very strict criteria he had set himself to grow Pinot Noir. The search for Pinot Nirvana took Mike and his wife Claudia everywhere from Portugal to Australia, and he says that after an exhaustive search across NZ had turned up nothing, he was seriously considering purchasing land in Uruguay. “But that would have come with a divorce,” he jokes.
The discovery of a farm in a sleepy corner of North Canterbury changed all that. Mike found the plot that would become Pyramid Valley in 2000, with “the perfect mix of soils, aspect and climate.” They planted according to those strict criteria on the clay-covered limestone, at an intensive 12,000 plants per hectare spaced just one metre x 800mm apart. Mike says the clay gives “fatness, charm and weight,” whilst the limestone gives “structure and precision.” Everything here is foot- and hand-crushed, only wild yeasts found in each site are used for fermentation, and added nutrients, temperature control or stopping or encouraging the ferment unnaturally are anathema.
From the start, Pyramid Valley has been a strictly biodynamic operation. Though he never mentions the term ‘natural wine’, there is no doubt these wines meet all of the emerging criteria for this category. Minimal use of sulphur and not controlling temperatures are aspects of that, and there is no irrigation in these vineyards. Certainly the wines are far from the norm. His Earth Smoke Vineyard 2008 Pinot, tasted in a line-up of Pinots from the region, had a shockingly pale and cloudy appearance, and yet was delightful to drink. Other than that, I ask him what all of his demanding vineyard and winery practices bring to the wines. “The wines are very forward just before bottling, but after bottling under screwcap they taper down and become tighter, and stay that way for a year or so before opening up again. But really it’s all about leaving the fruit out long enough so that it does not talk about the fruit when bottled, it talks about this site.” Earth Smoke, Angel Flower, Lion’s Tooth and Field of Fire are the estate’s home vineyards. Other wines are made from vineyards leased from growers in Canterbury and various other New Zealand regions, but Pyramid Valley have full responsibility for them, “turning the irrigation off and converting to biodynamics,” according to Mike.
Pyramid Valley, Kerner Pinot Blanc 2009
From the Kerner vineyard in Waihopi Valley in Marlborough, very nice, subdued, herb and softly oatmeal nose, has that lovely umami savour and dryness, with quite a full, sweet palate, lots of tang and vibrancy, the 15g/l of residual sugar adding sweetness but it has a plump, vibrant personality. 91/100.
Pyramid Valley, Kerner Pinot Blanc 2007
Very attractive candied orange and tangerine peel lift to this, with a big ripe apple core, and very sweetly balanced fruit. Lots of tang again, and delicious. 91/100.
Pyramid Valley, Labeca Riesling 2005
Waipara fruit. An intriguing wine that when first made naturally fermented to only 8.5% alcohol, with 75g/l of residual sugar. Now this wine is 13.5% and only 7g/l, though absolutely nothing has changed. “The yeasts and soils are just so much healthier,” says Mike. Lots of good sulphides, with herby and orange notes, and floral aspects coming through. The palate has delicious sweetness and a nectarine clarity and huge length. 91/100. Pyramid Valley, Labeca Riesling 2007
Forty grams of residual sugar in this wine, which has a much more obvious lime character than the 2005, with a touch of pepper. The palate has lovely stylish balance but does not have the punch and character of the older wine. 89/100. Pyramid Valley, Rose Riesling 2007
Marlborough fruit. Beautiful nose, the lime and stone married to a little greengage and this opens beautifully on the palate into a gloriously long finish. 92/100.
Pyramid Valley, Rose Riesling 2008
Fabulously aromatic, fabulously toasty and exotic, with a beautiful kerosene background note and slippery, beautifully sweet palate cut by that grippy, phenolic finish. Lovely clarity and length here, lemon rind and orange grip and freshness. 91-92/100. Pyramid Valley, Rose Riesling 2009
Much drier and more restrained, with a big core of lime and minerals that streaks through the mid-palate, a stony, ungiving, precision, but with a wonderfully focused, stony length. 92/100.
Pyramid Valley, Hille Late Harvest Semillon 2008
A touch of green, leafy herbs and fine lemony fruit, a touch of guava Botrytis. The palate has delightful composure and fine lemony fruit buttressed by some smoky, tea-leaf finesse. Fine tangerine acidity pushes through. 90/100
Pyramid Valley, Field of Fire Chardonnay 2009
450 and 500-litre barrels for ferment. Gorgeous nose of oatmeal and gentle Brazil nuts, a lovely green fig streak with some vegetal notes. The palate has lovely richness allied to precision, with a big mineral, pithy lemon dryness, the medium-bodied, limpid texture very appealing. Unfined, unfiltered, very low sulphur. 91/100.
Pyramid Valley, Lion’s Tooth Chardonnay 2009
Tighter, more mineral and focused, has that umami streak with a little toasty, reductive and mineral character. Intense on the palate, with a mouth-filling extract that is lemony and dry, with beautiful rounded, almost vanilla notes – but not oak, just a smooth, composed suppleness to the fruit and acidity. Brilliant length. 93/100.
Pyramid Valley, Calvert Pinot Noir 2008
From Central Otago, Felton Road farm it and the fruit is split into three parcels that go to Felton Road, Pyramid Valley and Craggy Range. Beautifully soft, medium, with meaty and gamy notes, a lovely floral and kirsch-like top note and the palate has great clarity too. There’s a softening edge of sweet vanilla, and still a precision to the acidity and tannin of the finish. 91/100.
Pyramid Valley, Eaton Pinot Noir 2007
Marlborough fruit. Beautifully soft, with deliciously appealing cranberry and gently fudgy aromas, with a real sense of strawberry cream sweetness and delicacy. The palate has a beautiful clarity and stillness about the mid-palate, a glacial pool of that soft, pure fruit, the soft tannins and the gentle balance of the acidity. Last vintage from this vineyard which was sold to Spy Valley. 93/100.
Pyramid Valley, Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2008
From one of the home Pinot plots, extremely pale colour, verging on tawny at the rim, and a touch cloudy too. Fantastically soft, coffee and leafy, truffly damp undergrowth. The palate has very soft structure, delightfully delicate and pure, the wine definitely feeling mature and as if it has considerable age. 90/100.
Pyramid Valley, Angel Flower Pinot Noir 2009
North facing, limestone. Lots of whole berry fermentation. Pale coloured again. Wonderfully rich truffle and sous-bois quality, with earth and ripe red berries. There’s coffee and strawberry, and there’s a mineral saltiness that gives this lovely grip and tension. 92/100.
Pyramid Valley, Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2009
Earth smoke has more clay over limestone. Very pale and orangy and quite hazy. The nose has definite streak of minerality, with fantastically complex herbal, leathery, with a bit of tight, almost liquoricy edge. On the palate this has a delightfully lean, focused palate. There’s a lemony clarity to the fruit, and nicely judged acidity which along with really tight tannins. Finesseful and long, though lacks a touch of the plump charm of the Eaton from Marlborough for example. 92/100.
Pyramid Valley, Angel Flower Pinot Noir 2010 (barrel sample)
Mike foot crushed part of this – around 20% – which along with a bigger year with more tannin, has really fixed that colour problem. Masses of fruit, with a big black fruit character and really deep aromas that have a lovely smoky, swirling minerality. Highly promising. 93/100.
Pyramid Valley, Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2010 (barrel sample)
Lovely dense, tight, focused minerality with a dense and glossy kirsch-like cherry and red plum-skin, but terrific juiciness. Lovely tight, focused finish, with terrific length. This will be a beautiful wine. 93/100.
See all Pyramid Valley wines on wine-searcher.
When Dayne and Jill Sherwood gave up their Sunday to meet me at their low-key winery in Waipara I was honoured, and slightly concerned to hear that some of their biggest selling wines were imported through Oddbins. Rumours of Oddbins’ financial predicament were just starting to circulate. Thankfully their main UK distributor, Alliance Wine Company, is still going strong and getting the wines onto shelves. The Sherwoods farm their five separate vineyards organically, with no synthetic chemicals. They also own vineyards in Marlborough, and this family-owned and run operation makes several ranges, but all of them offering modest prices and excellent value for money. Sauvignon Blanc is a big seller, but Dayne (right) says “We don’t see Sauvignon blanc as just a cash-cow – we want to make distinctive styles, and make it with as much care as we can.” One thing is definite: “We certainly try to avoid the ‘sweaty armpit’ character that I can’t stand in some wines.” The range-topping ‘Heritage Collection’ are all made from Waipara fruit, and Dayne describes them as “not so upfront and concentrating on texture and mouth-feel – they’re ‘food based’ wines.” This collection is fermented with wild yeasts, has no added enzymes, and part of the fermentation is in oak barrels.
Sherwood, Heritage Collection “No 8 Wire” Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Lovely mealy nose, with lots of creamy, nutty tones to green fruit – gooseberry yes, but greengage and fig also. The palate has a richness and a Chardonnay-like texture and texture. The fruit sweetness is there, with apricot and peach and tropical nuances. Nice and fresh, perhaps could use a touch more acidity would be useful perhaps. 90/100. £12.99
Sherwood, Heritage Collection “The Shearer” Chardonnay 2007
Waipara. Nutty, Cox’s Pippin nose, some almond and green fig and a gently oxidative style that is mealy and rich. The palate has beautiful fruit concentration, with a lovely core of lemon and lime acidity cutting through those sweet fruit tones, the coffeeish, gentle oak adding a nice layer into a long, sweet and nutty finish, but with excellent definition. 92/100. £12.99
Sherwood, Heritage Collection “Red Band” Riesling 2009
Waipara. 13.5. Very interesting nose, made from late-harvested fruit but fermented dry at slightly higher temperatures than might be expected for Riesling. Mango and guava ripeness and exotic style, some lime in the background, with a big, sweet-fruited palate. Delicious orangy acidity cutting through that sweetish alcohol and touch of RS, but that tropical fruit richness and exotic flavour persists. 90/100. £12.99
Sherwood, Pinot Gris 2010
Brand new wine, yet to be named within this series. Lovely nose, with quite a rich, mealy, oatmeal nose, a touch of melon and apple fruit, and a savoury, herbal and more earthy element. On the palate plenty of weight and texture, and a lovely dry, grapefruit acidity. I find this quite stylish. 89/100. £12.99
Sherwood, Heritage Collection “Huntaway” Late Pick Riesling 2009
50gl RS. Nectarine and tropical guava fruit, a touch of mineral smokiness here, and lots of caramel-like depth. The palate is luscious and sweet, with those juicy nectarine fruits powering through the rich mid-palate and the sweetness filling the mouth, but the acidity is beautifully balanced, leaving a tangy mandarin orange clean finish. 91/100. 12.99
Sherwood, Heritage Collection “Nor’Wester” Pinot Noir 2009
Much more savoury than the Sherwood Pinot, much more meaty and earthy, with complex glimpses of cedar and floral touches too. Lovely wine in the mouth. The savoury, juicy quality of the fruit is good – ripe, but restrained and edgy – and there’s a briskness about the acidity that maintains that edge, despite quite a big coffeeish oak quality and plump, meaty tannins. In the end this is naturally concentrated and powerful Pinot, with real substance too. 91/100. £14.99
Sherwood, Heritage Collection Syrah 2009
Only four acres of this, which Dayne describes as “a personal, fun project. We never expected it to be a commercial wine, but we have been stunned by the results in the four vintages we’ve made.” Very nice pepper and slightly meaty nose, with a touch of herbal quality, and lots of sweet red berry fruit. There is a juiciness and jammyness to the fruit, with touches of herbs and chocolate, as well as that lively. 90/100.
Sherwood Estate, Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Marlborough fruit. More mineral, more mineral nose, citrus characters. A concentrated character, with good minerality and just a suggestion of herbaceous notes. The palate has a juiciness and a fine herbal edge to lots of luscious fruit. 89/100. £9.99
Sherwood Estate, Pinot Noir 2009
Waipara fruit. Older oak, a touch of micro-ox in this one just to loosen it up for earlier release. Juicy, appealing red cherry and rhubarb fruit, lots of thick, ripe fruit character, with a touch of espresso in the background. Rich and sweet fruit on the palate, cherry and beetrooty richness very expressive, a little spice and nicely rich, thick tannins. A fairly big and sweet-toned style, but lots of juicy, complex, Pinot bangs per buck here. 89/100. £10.99
Sherwood Estate, Stratum Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Marlborough fruit. Lovely nose, lots of tropical fruit, very inviting with a passionfruit juiciness. Quite and oily mouth-feel, the thick tropical fruit sweetness persisting o n the mid-palate, lots of lemon and grapefruit. Well balanced. 87/100. £8.99
Sherwood Estate, Stratum Chardonnay 2009
Waipara fruit. Unoaked. Apple fruited nose, with a touch of green to it. The palate has hugely ripe fruit, perhaps too sweet, with abundant tropical notes on the mid palate but is there also a touch of RS? Commercial, but perhaps a little too sweet for me, the citrus pith acidity. 86/100. £8.99
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MUD HOUSE and WAIPARA HILLS
Mud House’s winery, visitor centre, restaurant and café complex is the most impressive on the Waipara Wine Route, and along with Pegasus Bay it is the face of Waipara wine that many casual visitors to the region will see. There’s even a programme of summer concerts in the immaculate grounds. The Mud House group also owns the stand-alone Waipara Hills brand, with its own facilities and winemaking team. The group has wineries and vineyards in Marlborough and Waipara, and also has its own vineyards in Central Otago as well as buying from contracted growers. Head winemaker Simon McGeorge took me through the range before dashing off to a meeting and leaving me in the very capable hands of assistant winemaker Hayden Oliver, right.
Mud House is imported by Maisons, Marques et Domaines. See all stockists on wine-searcher.
Mud House, South Isalnd Pinot Gris 2010
Nelson, Malborough and Waipara fruit. Blending brings tighter flavours from Waipara and richer flavours from Marlbourgh. Nice nose, with delicate apricot notes and a touch of vanilla and cream from lees ageing. Very clear nose of stone fruits. The palate has quite a lot of sweetness (7g/l) with a rich texture and lots of fruit sweetness, with balanced alcohol and acidity. 88/100.
Mud House, Home Block Vineyard Pinot Gris 2010
From the home block around the Waipara vineyard. A slightly more lifted aromatic, little floral glimpses and a more delicate character. A touch of barrel ferment adds some gentle nutty notes. The palate has real juiciness, the background sweetness tempered by juicy acidity and a long, nicely tapering finish. 90/100.
Mud House, Waipra Riesling 2009
Attrasctive little bit of waxy lemon development, some orange zest notes. The palate has lots of texture and richness, the fruit of melon and stone fruits cut by a fine lime acidity, with a pithy dryness that sits very elegantly. 90/100.
Mud House, The Mound Vineyard Riesling 2010
Hand-picked, little skin contact gives a fruit skin note on the nose, with some clove and weissbier aromas and nice stone fruits. The palate has a lively but grippy fruit on the mid-palate, with 15 g/l of sugar adding apparent sweetness. The finish has that phenolic grippiness and a long, juicy finish. 91/100.
Mud House, Sauvignon Blanc 2010
A tiny proportion of Nelson fruit in this Marlborough wine. Big green bean blast on the nose, with rich pea pod ripeness backed by more tropical fruit notes. The palate has a very clean, crisp definition (only around 3g/l sugar) with a fruity mid-palate, but the acidity pushes through with a nicely lemony and focused, food-friendly style. 89/100.
Mud House, The Wooldshed Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010
A single vineyard form a hill block in Wairu valley. Much more expressive, phiol charcter with snow pea and pea shoot brightness. The palate has lots of sweet, ripe tropical fruit coming through, but again the limey acidity, and fruit sweetness pulls thios through in a very nice, very dry (1g/l) finish. 92/100.
Mud House, Chardonnay 2009
South Island blend, unoaked, with some lees contact. Lovely bright apple and orchard fruits, a touch of honeysuckle, a very gentle nuttiness. The palate has a nice texture, the fruit is niceluy focused. Good acidity, the finish perhaps a little abrupt. 87/100.
Mud House, Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Bendigo vineyard is one of the biggest in Central Otago. Planted with lots of different clones and rootstocks to try to achieve some complexity. Nice Pinot nose, a nicely mineral and cherry brightness, a touch of smokiness and a touch of herbs and tobacco, but the focus is on the fruit. The palate has a tiny aggressive note, perhaps from slightly underripe tannins, but the fruit sweetness carries this through svefry nicely and that touch of underripeness adds a little herby complexity that sits very well with the fine, peppery tannins. 89/100.
Mud House, Swan Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
The “Swan” will change to “Eastate” from next vintage. Hand harvested, part whole berry, colds soaked for seven days of hand plunging in open tanks. Post ferment maceration to taste, followed by 100% French oak, 30% new, for around 10 months. The vineyars if cropped lower than for the regular Pinot Noir. Adds a much more smoky, mocha note to deeper plum and berry fruit. The palate has delicious tang, the cherry skin grip of acidity and ripe, fine tannins playing nicely against the really bright, dark, quite luscious fruit and spice. 91/100.
Waipara Hills is imported by Freerun Wines. See all stockists on wine-searcher.
Waipara Hills, Pinot Gris 2010
All Waipara fruit from 17-year-old vineyards and some younger vines planted more recently. Nice, light, juicy and fresh style with much less mealy and leesy character than the Mud House. A little skinny, pear skin note. The palate has quite punchy pear fruit, the acidity nice and ripe and juicy. This is pretty dry, with only around 5g/l of sugar. Very nice drinking. 88/100.
Waipara Hills, Riesling 2010
All Waipara fruit, form a relatively cool vintage but with a long hang time into the autumn. Around 30% skin contact in the press. All Riesling planted on river gravels. Has a touch of lime and a touch of pear skin tang, with a nicely bright charcter. The palate has nice medium-sweetness, with a light, lemony acidity allied to a soft, peach down, pretty fruit flavour. Nicely balanced and long. 89/100
Waipara Hills, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
This and the Central Otago Pinot are the ‘out of region’ wines in the WAipara portfolio. This is mostly from the AWA-TERRY, with lots of bean and pea-shoot lift and brightness and a finely tunes lightly tropicl mango fruit beneath. Lots of brightness and freshness, and a very nice dry finish with texture and good acidity, but not aggressively so. 89/100.
Waipara Hills, Chardonnay 2010
Simon has worked in the Loire, the US and in Slovenia. He sees the model for Waipara Chardonnay’s style being Chablis. This has only a very small proportion of barrel fermentation and only around 20% Malolactic. Nice hint of nutty, yeasty oatmeal charcter over crisp orchard fruits, lots of succulent fruit, but not too ripe or tropical in nature. The palate has nice sweetness, mostly from the fruit ripeness, but just a touch of RS (3/gl) too. The palate has a smoothness and nicely elegant finish. 88/100.
Waipara Hills, Waipara Pinot Noir 2009
Oldest vines are of the Swiss 10×5 clones, though more modern plantings are Dijon and Davios clones. Lovely aromatics, lots of cinnamon, clove and spice lift, with a tobacco and herbal lift, and the fruit has a juicy cherry and raspberry lift. The palate has is fairly lean, with a fruity mid-palate but always edged with tobacco and herbal notes, only hints of a more chocolaty ripeness before a lean, lemony finish. A bright, nicely focused and very authentic Pinot on the leaner side. 89/100.
Waipara Hills, Southern Cross Selection Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008
All hand-picked fruit from Bendigo, 100% barrel aged, around 30% new, lower toast. Nice spice and exotic herbs, a little bit deeper and glossier. Has that nicely edgy fruit, and a lovely mocha background. Deliciously tangy and offers a nicely made, balanced wine with a spicy, grippy edge to the finish. 90/100.