I canít think of a better wine style at this time of the year than riesling. Hang on, there's sauvignon blanc of course, but riesling with a little sweetness and well chilled, just hits the spot for a pre-dinner drink on a balmy summer day.
So we had a tasting of 10 rieslings late yesterday afternoon, something to do when the power went off unexpectedly about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Fortunately the wine had been put in the fridge about an hour before, so were chilled down to an acceptable level.
I was rather impressed with the quality of these rieslings, all well-balanced with excellent varietal character and most with complexity and the potential to become more complex with age.
But it was the sweeter wines that really fulfilled the palate, the sweeter wines that were all that absolutely so moreish, the last four wines of the tasting in particular and when the wines were unveiled for me (because I tasted them blind), two were from Muddy Water, one was from Framingham and one was from Margrain. Another stunner from Margrain! I've really been impressed by the new releases from this company.
I had already decided that the Margrain Proprietor's Selection Martinborough Riesling 2006 and the Muddy Water Unplugged Waipara Riesling 2006 were clear contenders for 'Riesling of the Day' - and for once Neil was in complete agreement with me. But these wines were so different, how could I make a choice.
I couldnít on taste alone, but the nibbles that we tasted the wines with, would help me. There were slivers of fresh apricot on their own and slivers of fresh apricot topped with blue cheese. There were salty rice crackers topped with blue cheese and salty rich crackers topped with ricotta and slices of pepperdew. Salt works well with riesling, and so does apricot and blue cheese, but the Margrain threw up its hands in objection to the chilli-like spiciness of the pepperdew. It was not a good combination. So the Muddy Water Unplugged Waipara Riesling 2006 was declared the 'Riesling of the Day'.
Later that evening, after the power had come back on and when the duck I had cooked to match to the Heron's Flight Dolcetto 2005
(see my blog), had been served, I tried the riesling with the duck too. To my surprise, it worked well too, possibly because of the citrus zest that I had used in the marinade and cooking. So sweeter rieslings in particular are delicious to drink and quite versatile food wines too.
Here are all the wines in the order tasted. All exhibited bright lemon gold colour, with the Soljans and the Margrain the palest in the line up and the Muddy Water Unplugged just a little more golden. I would rate all of the wines of medal winning quality, just different colour medals. All of the wines had screwcap closures.
Foxes Island Marlborough Riesling 2005 (sc)
Smells rich and ripe with hints of lime and tastes of honeysuckle and honeycomb with the slightest suggestion of a fusel character. It's rich in the palate, weighty and spicy with good length and concentration with sweetish lime adding zest to the lengthy finish. 13% alc. 7.7 g/l rs. $27.95.
Hunter's Marlborough Riesling 2006 (sc)
The crisp, steely, lemon-tinged citrussy aroma has a delicate floral nuance and it is crisp and juicy in the palate with lots of citrus and apple flavours, a hint of tropical fruit and a fresh, bracing finish with a light honeyed richness as it lingers. Looks like it has the potential to age extremely well. 13.5% alc. 6.0 g/l rs. $19.90.
Rippon Lake Wanaka Central Otago Riesling 2005 (sc)
Lemon honey on the nose with a hint of honey comb, it smells sweetish but has a citrussy tartness in the palate with some fusel/kero notes and marmalade on the finish where strong orange zest flavours linger. The aftertaste is long and concentrated and kicks in with gusto a few seconds after the wine has been swallowed. Great aging potential. 12.5% alc. 10-11 g/l rs. $28.50.
Riveryby Estate Marlborough Riesling 2005 (sc)
It smells dry and just a little earthy with some floral nuances and a hint of rose petal muskiness. The fruit is sweet but well balanced by the crisp acidity, the texture is lightly honeyed and there's a delicate nuance of orange honey on the finish which is long and focussed. Good now but will be even better with age, if past vintages are anything to go by. 12.5% alc. 4.5 g/l rs. $19.00.
Soljans Marlborough Riesling 2006 (sc)
Well balanced to the taste, soft, juicy and floral with a hint of musk, fleshy stonefruit, red apples and a sherbet spritziness that wakens up the palate and leaves a fresh, tingly, fizzy fruit aftertaste. Apples are the dominant fruit as the flavours linger. Overall a very fruity style, just lacks the concentration that all of the others in this tasting have. 12% alc. 12 g/l rs. $18.95.
Spy Valley Marlborough Riesling 2006 (sc)
Lime with a hint of pollen on the nose, this juicy, fresh, full-bodied flavoursome riesling is full of lemon, lime and tropical fruit with a spritz, zesty bite to the lightly spicy finish. It has good length and a flavoursome aftertaste where a honeyed richness emerges. A user-friendly style without being too complex. 12% alc. 11 g/l rs. $16.95.
Framingham Marlborough Classic Riesling 2005 (sc)
Honeysuckle on the nose, subtle yet complex. A sweeter style with lovely acid balance keeping that sweetness in check and making it seem much drier than the residual sugar would suggest. A wine of purity and subtlety with mandarins and limes, a hint of salinity on the finish and subtle petrol notes too. A juicy, juicy wine and very smart indeed. 12% alc. 17 g/l rs. $19.95.
Margrain Martinborough Proprietor's Selection Riesling 2006 (sc)
At first the aroma is quite floral with sweet honeysuckle and lemon zest but that's just the first impression of this utterly interesting and complex wine because I then get juicy green grapes, tropical guava, fizzy fruit lollies and the slightest hint of petrol. Very fruity and juicy to the taste with a strong citric character and a hint of dried pineapple though the texture is quite drying and teeth coating and the kero/fusel characters detected on the nose are much stronger in the palate. A fascinating wine, a unique wine, quite different to any New Zealand riesling I've tasted before - it is more like a riesling from Alsace - and the aftertaste goes on and on and on with the citrussy flavours taking over everything as the flavour lingers in the mouth. I can honestly say I love it. 11.5% alc. 12 g/l rs. $24.00.
Muddy Water Waipara James Hardwick Riesling 2006 (sc)
Fresh, zesty, spicy and lightly honeyed citrus scents. It smells sweetish and tastes sweetish too with a spicy honeyed richness and a citrus zestiness. Possibly a little botrytis which adds weight and richness to the palate and a touch of orange toffee on the finish. Weighty and complex with a luscious factor creeping in and a long, clean, rich, zesty aftertaste. Tight and subtle to start with but it opens up and explodes with flavour. 12.3% alc. 18 g/l rs. $26.00.
Muddy Water Waipara Unplugged Riesling 2006 (sc)
A little deeper in colour with glimmers of rich gold to the lemon gold hue, hints of botrytis and a touch of beeswax add a depth to the honeyed scent. It's sweet yet tart in the palate, like a kumquat with a sweet rind and an invigorating tart but juicy centre. Fantastically balanced and concentrated flavours of lime and tangelo interlaced with dried mango and passionfruit, it is rich and tasty, powerful and concentrated, with a nectar-like texture and a touch of honey comb on the long, lingering finish. Wonderful purity. Absolutely delicious. 12.9% alc. 53 g/l rs. $27.00.
© Sue Courtney
5 Feb 2007