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Wine of the Week for week ending 13 Sep 2009
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Rippon Lake Wanaka Riesling 2008
Central Otago, New Zealand

Doctors sometimes tell you to limit your drinking to only one glass of wine a day. Of course the size of the glass is usually never mentioned and the keen drinker can liberally pick a glass of any size - we've all seen the cartoon, haven't we?

But I was thinking, what if you told you could only drink one grape variety? What if we were told, hypothetically, of course that mixing grapes could be bad for your health?

For some people it would be a choice of either Chardonnay or Shiraz, for others Pinot Noir would be at the forefront. But for me, after not very much deliberation, it would be Riesling. Why? Because Riesling is so versatile and is crafted into beautiful expressions of wine that range from extra dry to decadently sweet with oaked versions and even bubbles. They can be light and fruity to concentrated, rich and deep with a range of alcohols too. There are Rieslings, I'm sure, for every occasion.

So when he, who looks after me well and pours my wines, presented me with a glass (well two, actually, to taste side by side) those thoughts of just how good Riesling can be became foremost in my mind. The words flowed from my fingers into my electronic notebook.

Sweet and full of racy acidity - there's a hint of green apple and a squeeze of lime - quite dry on entry but then it fills out fleshy sub-tropical fruit - heading towards feijoa - yes, feijoa most definitely - perfectly ripe feijoa with a pearlescent texture, then hints of pineapple and that zingy bracing tartness. Fresh, vibrant, delicious and length of flavour too.

Take a mouthful and slowly it immediately and it tastes a little earthy with a tingle of spritz. Savour it slowly, let it cover every nook and cranny in the mouth, and enjoy every moment and the fruit flavours will just explode.

This is Rippon Riesling 2008 with fruit taken from old Riesling vines, planted 1987 to 1991, on the shores of Lake Wanaka in Central Otago and farmed according to biodynamic principles. The juice that came from whole bunch pressing was fermented in stainless steel by the action of the yeast population in the winery - and I am sure that it is this 'native ferment' that adds to the textural complexity.

The 18 grams per litre of residual sugar in the wine is tempered by the high 9 grams per litre of total acidity and the low (2.95) pH. Alcohol is 12% and price is around $32.50 a bottle.

Rippon Juenesse Young Vines Riesling 2008 was tasted alongside. Made from grapevines planted in 2000, this has a little more gold to the colour and is redolent of freshly squeezed lemonade fruit (there is a fruit called lemonade) and floral too - white primula with its subtle but heady scent and later honeysuckle - and butterscotch. Butterscotch???? Yes, something creamy and buttery and altogether intriguing. A fatter, weightier Riesling with a smooth slippery texture and concentration and power - orange zest emerges from the back of the palate and pushes it way to the front, cutting that oiliness. Spiced apple abounds on the finish and that citrussy impression lingers for ages - it wavers through lemon, tangelo and grapefruit. Stats for this wine are 13.2 g/l residual sugar, 9.3g/l total acidity and a pH of 2.95. Alcohol is 12.5% and price is around $24.50 a bottle.

Both delicious wines - but it was the old vines wine that had an edge of finesse for me.

Food matches - well, Riesling was chosen because terakihi was on the menu and of course the Riesling and fish worked well, but an experimental side dish of carrots and parsnips baked in a little cream was also delicious. Over the next couple of nights there was chicken marinaded in Thai Chilli sauce, and then chicken with lemon and herbs - all recommended.

Where can you buy these wines - good retailers and of course from the source - find out more from the Rippon website -

© Sue Courtney
6 Sep 2009

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