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Wine of the Week for week ending 11 April 2010
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Auburn Twilight Riesling 2009
Central Otago, New Zealand

"Have you packed the Rieslings carefully," I asked Neil.
"Of course," he replied.

They were in the wine bag and nestled behind the spare tyre, which, in our mid-engine car, is under the bonnet.

There were two bottles and I was looking forward to trying them because one of the names behind this new label, Auburn Wines, is Max Marriott, a part time wine writer and a Riesling fanatic. In fact Jancis Robinson has even republished some of Max's Riesling reviews on her website.

I had met Max at an 'offline' (where wine lovers who communicate online meet in person) and some delicious German Spatlese was consumed at that event.

Max and friend Dave, both recent graduates Lincoln University's viticulture and oenology course, and another friend Andrew, share a love of Riesling so it was hardly a surprise to hear they had set out on a mission to make the style of wine they love to drink and that Central Otago was the chosen site. After all, anyone who has tasted the some of the exquisite Rieslings from NZ's coolest climate region know that the wines have nerve and verve.

There were two wines, both made from 16-year-old vines off a site in Lowburm, north of Cromwell, and both moderately low alcohol styles.

Auburn Twilight Riesling 2009 ($28) is gorgeous, Light gold in colour with aromas of tropical fruit and sweet citrus and a honeyish palate, it is sweetish, nectar-like, with great depth of tropical / citrus fruit and great acid tension to balance the sweetness and hints of spicy zest (ginger-like, almost) coming forth on the finish. Texture, viscosity and mouthfeel just perfect - it reminds me a little of the Mt Difficulty Target Gully Riesling 2009 that I gave 5 stars to recently. This style of Riesling, when well made, as this one is, always seduces me and this had me swooning in ecstasy. It has 10.0% alcohol, a pH of 3.21, TA 7.7g/L, and residual sugar 28g/L. 242 bottles were made.

Auburn Lowburn Riesling 2009 ($28) is light in colour and immediately the impression is tighter and racier with concentrated yet soft lime and lemon flavours and even greater tension and nerve. The texture has a slight oily character, there's a nuance of nectar-like sweetness and a distinct earthy / pithy character to the finish that, because of the acidity, gives the wine a dry steely finish. Far too young, but I can envision how this would be in five years time. If you can get hold of a bottle and put it away in your cellar, you will have obtained a first release of one of Central Otago's new stars. It has 9% alcohol, a pH of 3.03, TA 8.2g/L and 31g/L of residual sugar.

Our mandatory stop at Nin's Bin, a roadside crayfish stall just north of Kaikoura, provided the ideal opportunity to open the wines. Sun, sea, freshly cooked crayfish and gorgeous Riesling - what could be better?

Even though it was lunchtime, it was the Twilight Riesling that I preferred, both with freshly cooked crayfish, split in half down the tail and served with a a wedge of lemon, and a couple of nights later with potato crisps and cheese and onion dip.

There will be more Rieslings from Auburn wines to come. The philosophy of the guys is to make Rieslings that express site and as their portfolio grows, the range will eventually comprise a Riesling from each subregion of Central Otago.

This is an exciting venture and if you are an ardent Riesling fan, it is one new name you should bookmark. Check out to find out more.

© Sue Courtney
3 Apr 2010

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