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Wine of the Week for weeks ending 11 & 18 April 2004
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Three Delicious South Island Rieslings
Marlborough and Central Otago, New Zealand

Last year I fell in love with the Mt Difficulty Single Vineyard Long Gully Riesling 2002 and so it was reviewed as a Wine of the Week. I was down in Central Otago at the time and drove past the vineyard amongst the old gold mine tailings in Felton Road and wondered how grapes grew in such barren, otherwise useless land. The memory of the wine is still with me, I can shut my eyes and taste the deliciously sweet yet tart citrus fruit with its piercing acidity, like a wake up breakfast drink only much better.

A year passes.

I was down at First Glass Wines and Spirits the other day checking out the goods and I noticed the Mt Difficulty Single Vineyard Long Gully Riesling 2003 on the tasting table. It wasn't open so I asked Kingsley Wood if it should be there. "Open it", he said, explaining that it was a sample that had just arrived. That was all the encouragement I needed and with a quick twist the screwcap closure cracked and was quickly off. Wow, the wine smelt so aromatic and zesty, like freshly grated orange and lime zest with dried apricots and a touch of honey. And the taste was just incredible with honeyed citrus, stonefruits, a layer of beeswax and juicy ripe tangelos that had been macerated in sweet wine. It was sweet but I wouldn't have guessed it had 100 grams of residual sugar, as the acidity cut right through it. It was lowish alcohol too, just 9.5%. If anyone is into the sweeter style of Riesling, this will rock you.

But wait, there's more.

During the week there was a tasting of International Rieslings and I was there - as a self-confessed Riesling lover I would have to be, and what a treat we were in for. The Mt Difficulty Single Vineyard Long Gully Riesling 2003 was in the tasting, as was the Melness Canterbury Riesling 2003, a Wine of the Week a few weeks ago. There was the stunning Geoffrey Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2003 from the Clare Valley in South Australia and some stunning wines from Germany, including the gold medal winning Weingut Paulinshof Braunberberger Riesling Auslese 2001 from the Mosel. But there were also two incredibly pure, almost ethereal Rieslings from Fromm of Marlborough.

Fromm La Strada Riesling 2003 is water pale with just a tinge of straw with earthy lemon on the nose, sweet lemon and mandarin, honey and apples in the palate. This has lovely purity and tons of acidity, fills out very well and has great length with just a touch of sweetness on the finish. Quenching and moreish. Just 8% alcohol, it retails for about NZ$29.95.

Fromm La Strada Auslese Riesling 2001 is very pale lemon in colour, a little earthy on the nose and deliciously sweet in the palate, think of flower nectar with a touch of spice. It has such wonderful purity, a minerality like fresh mountain streams running over river gravels and though rich in texture it has the lightness of butterfly tears. The finish is endless. It's just totally fabulous. Just a mere 7.5% alcohol, it retails for about NZ$46.95.

For more information about these wine and where to buy (though as late harvest styled wines that are not likely to be exported far and wide), check out the respective websites -

© Sue Courtney
4 April 2004

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