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Wine of the Week for week ending 24 May 2009
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Black Estate Omihi Riesling 2008
Waipara, New Zealand

A quartet of Rieslings tasted at the beginning of the week resulted in four distinctly different but four very good wines. As usual, the wines were tasted blind and selected to accompany our seafood meal more than any other reason. The fish was 'Paroe', according to the label in the wet fish window - I'd never heard of this before and the guy behind the counter wasn't too wise about it either. It's a firm white fleshed fish that in filleted appearance looks a little like snapper or terakihi. Smothered with cumin, coriander and flour crust and pan-fried in a little butter - it cooked up beautifully. I'm thinking the fish was mislabelled and probably 'Parore', a common fish in the northern waters of New Zealand, underrated by many- but at almost half the price of snapper, who really cares? Anyway, the fish was perfectly cooked, it flaked quite easily when you put your fork into it, and was definitely rather tasty. It was also a perfect accompaniment to the Riesling wines, which are of course the focus of this report.

Neil chose the wines - his brief was a selection of regions. He then had a wee taste to sort out the pouring order from drier to sweeter.

First up was Murdoch James Blue Rock Riesling 2008 from Martinborough. This is a light lemon gold coloured wine with a sweet lemon and honeysuckle scent - it smells medium dry to dry in a classic Riesling style. That is also the impression in the palate. Pithy, earthy and citrussy, light to medium bodied, crisp and dry. Initially it seemed a little short, but that brevity improves with time. It also tastes terrific both at autumn room temperature and with refrigerator chilling - the latter makes it seem almost bone dry. The wine has 11.5% alc and costs $28 bottle. My rating 17.5/20 (four stars). .

Next up was Domain Road Central Otago Riesling 2008 from the Bannockburn subregion. Straw gold coloured, bright in the glass, but a little earthy and dull smelling with hints of putty - I'm not enamoured by the aroma but the palate definitely redeems it. Green apple, lime, zesty spices and honey with off dry sweetness, biting acidity and very good length - for riesling, it is medium to full in style. This is one of those moderate sugar (15 grams per litre) and incredibly high acidity (9.5g/l) with a moderate to high (for Riesling) 12.5% alcohol. It's a definite seafood style with a price tag around $19-$22. My rating 17/20 (four stars) - and easily could have been higher if the aromatics had obliged.

The third in the line-up is the light gold coloured Black Estate Omihi Riesling 2008 from Waipara. Slightly herbaceous with ripe apple aromas - quite sweet smelling too - like a green apple, spice crusted pie, the citrussy character of the aroma intensifies - and is even better when chilled. In the palate this is so unexpected - so sweet - so juicy - so deliciously tasty and nice. It's beautifully balanced and ripe with honey, lemon, floral overtones and spice. The apple and herb detected on the nose comes through to linger on the lasting finish that is complex and reasonably full. Can be served exceptionally well chilled. The wine has 11% alc and costs $22 a bottle. The sweetness comes from the 48 grams per litre of residual sugar that is reigned into check by a racy 10.2 grams per litre of total acidity. My rating 18.5/20 (five stars).
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Last to be tasted was Boreham Wood Single Vineyard Marlborough Riesling 2008 . A straw/lemon colour, it's quite shy on the nose - hints of lemon and apple perhaps, then quite sweet in the palate and much brighter and tastier than the nose would suggest. There's a spiced baked apple lemon boiled lolly overtone and though it's sweet and honeyed the well-balanced racy acidity and pithy characters make it seem quite dry. Chilling makes this wine seem even more luscious and juicy with honeysuckle and a spun sugar sweetness to the finish. A lower alcohol style with just 10% of the heady-inducing stuff, it also has 30+ grams of residual sugar and 6.9 grams of total acidity. It costs about $26 a bottle. My rating 16.5/20 (3.5 stars) in a cool autumn room temperature, or 17/20 (4 stars) when tasted straight from the refrigerator.
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These wines were tasted over the next 2-3 nights with other accompaniments. Interestingly, with a lightly spiced, Creamy Thai Chicken (made from a Masterfoods Packet Sauce with the addition of coconut milk), the Boreham Wood Riesling 2008 was the only wine to match - an exceptional match, I will add. There were 10 wines in that particular matching experiment - the other three Rieslings and leftover Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well.

The wines were more friendly with a homemade Pumpkin, Carrot and Kumara Soup with cumin and coriander spices, coconut milk, egg noodles and lots of Thai Basil, but it was the Black Estate Omihi Riesling 2008 that absolutely shone.

Helen, my friend from Queensland was with us for this tasting and her favourite wine was the Murdoch James Martinborough Riesling 2008 (her dry Aussie palate kicking in) with the Boreham Wood Riesling 2008 her runner up.

But for both Neil and me it was Black Estate Omihi Riesling 2008 that took the overall honours - both in the blind tasting and as overall favourite with the food - hence it's this week's Wine of the Week. Helen's favourite, the Murdoch James, was my second placed overall.

Footnote: Wines were opened on the 11th May and I retasted today to see what they are like a week after first being opened. This may be of interest to people like me who make a bottle of wine last a few days. The wines had been parked on the lounge floor in front of a cabinet. Click here to check out my Blog with the eight day old tasting review.

© Sue Courtney
18 May 2009

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