(2024) Vintage after vintage I really enjoy this wine. It's the only wine in the Riverby Estate portfolio where the fruit does not come from their own vineyard, hence the sub-brand, Cicada. It's a lovely wine, just off dry but with loads of substance and a bite of dry extract to add to the seriousness. All the hallmark notes of lychee and rose petal are there, but the peachy ripeness of the mid-palate fruit and the way it merges into that crisp, powerful finish whilst retaining a hint of szechuan-friendly sweetness, is marvellous.
(2024) Exclusively planted with the Mendoza Clone, Riverby's Chardonnay vineyard was first planted in 1999. What a delight this is aromatically, creamy and almondy, with a ripe aand rounded but zippy stone fruit and lime character. Gorgeous texture, something like passion fruit adds extra succulence, but what a lovely texture and satisfyingly rounded mouthfeel. The acid is perfectly ripe and perfectly balanced. Reminds me of Pouilly Fuisse perhaps - but a very, very good one.
(2024) I'm a big fan of Riverby's Syrah, even though it is not available in the UK and Syrah as a variety is almost unheard of in Marlborough. There's a lively quality of black fruit touched by exotic spices like caraway, with a gloss of balsamic oak. The palate has medium weight and ripe black fruit, smooth as silk and finishing with excellent balance. For me, another very fine expression of Syrah from the region.
(2024) Ultra reliable, just off-dry Riesling, this comes from a dedicated block of the Riverby vineyard. Slate and wet river stones, with a very delicate waxiness. Yellow apple and lime fruit, something a little floral too? Peachy sweet as it strikes the palate, but bracing acidity slices through that fruit juiciness and sweetness. Rounded and creany-textured, it's both sophisticated and crowd-pleasingly delicious.
(2024) Sited on the famous Jacksons Road in Marlborough alongside neighbours like Cloudy Bay and Allan Scott, Riverby is a different beast: a family-owned and operated vineyard with total control of its own grape production. This Sauvignon comes from an excellent vintage and immediately impresses with its intensity: the nose is a pungent explosion of guava and mango, with elderflower streaking through the aromatic exoticism. In the mouth that tropical fruit juiciness opens the show, but almost instantly a phalanx of lime acidity drives a wedge through the centre, propelling the wine to a lip-smacking, dry finish. There's more than enough fruity extract to coat the palate and withstand the onslaught of the wine's freshness so there is no fruit/acid imbalance. A concentrated, decisive example of Marlborough Sauvignon at its best. Watch the video for more information.
(2024) Matured for a year in French oak barrels, the nose has an intriguing combination of charry, roasted chestnut depth and lifted, floral kirsch and rose fragrance. It's a lovely combination, giving layers of complexity to the aroma. On the palate, spice and meaty flavours again combine with such sweet and plush red berry fruits. Ripeness is excellent, but twin forces of silky tannin and the keen, honed edge of acidity keep the picture taut and juicy. It's a marvellous Pinot this, among the best I've tasted from the ever-improving Pinot scene in the Marlborough region: long, pure-fruited and beautifully balanced into the finish.
(2024) Last vintage of this that I tasted was the 2019, standing in the vineyard with Dr John Forrest. It remains one of the better reduced alcohol wines out there (in this case achieved largely by vineyard management rather than technology to remove alcohol), though perhaps it's not quite as convincing as the 2019 which I scored 88/100. Aromatics and flavours are good, but the two elements that just detract a little are too much sweetness (for me) and a slight sense of dilution, the wine fading away rather abruptly. Do not get me wrong: if you like Marlborough SB and want a wine with only 9.5% alcohol, it remains a pretty sound choice in a rather uninspiring field.
(2023) This very pale and youthful wine has a modest 5.5g/l of residual sugar, coming from loam, gravel and clay soils with vines planted between 1979 and 2004. The vineyard is a mixed planting of aromatic varieties, dominated by Gewurztraminer, all co-fermented. It sits at only 60 metres altitude. The nose is very attractive with some sweet bon-bon notes, exotic fruit, peach down, and a touch of citrus peel. The palate has a rounded, sweet-edged and very approachable medium weight, creamy-rich but juicy into the finish with a fresh grapey crunch to the acidity.
(2023) Austria's Gru-V in the hands of the talented Jules Taylor, who vinified part of the blend cool in stainless steel, a second portion wild fermented in old French oak. It's aromatically vibrant, cut lime and a shimmer of sherbet over clean apple aromas. In the mouth it is a concentrated wine, quite powerful phenolics adding grippy texture, and plenty of pithy acid, quite slippery and saline in the food-friendly finish.
(2023) Marlborough's Southern Valleys are more recently planted that the original Wairau vineyards, and Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are something of a specialism as they take advantage of the clay soils and hillsides. A small proportion saw whole bunch fermentation with indigenous yeasts before it was aged in French oak barrels for one year.It's a spicy, quite meaty Pinot this, of lovely quality. Almost minty in its ripeness aromatically, the palate has some density with a plummy side to the fruit, but it has freshness too, with cherry, a little briar and truffle, and again spices into a long finish.