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Wine of the Week for week ending 18 September 2011
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Muddy Water Unplugged Riesling 2009
Waipara, New Zealand

When the news came from Waipara six months ago that Jane and Michael East were selling their Muddy Water winery, vineyards and brand, I felt rather sad. Especially when Jane explained that none of their children shared their dream of being winemakers or travelling the world as wine marketeers. So when neighbouring vineyard, Greystone, approached the Easts with an offer, it seemed logical not to refuse. And the deal was made.

But the Muddy Water brand is going to live on, we are told. And why not when it's such a fabulous name. But it's nothing to do with a well known blues artist, but the Maori translation for Waipara: Wai = water, para = sediment. It is the sediment that makes the water muddy.

For those of us who are not sure of what the future holds, we can still relish the Muddy Water wines up to and including the 2010 vintage, that longtime and now ex-Muddy Water winemaker Belinda Gould made. I've been a long time fan of her wines, the Chardonnay always one most enjoyable from the region, that fabulous and unique Pinotage, and of course the Rieslings.

And it is a Muddy Water Riesling that I've chosen as this week's Wine of the Week.

Muddy Water Unplugged Riesling 2009 is one of the best I've tasted from the unplugged label. But so different and really out of place in the blind tasting we put it into, as the wine from this vintage is so laden with botrytis it should have been tasted with late harvest styles. So I wrote my tasting note, put the bottle aside and concentrated on other wines. But the Unplugged was always the back of my mind because the wine was my favourite of the tasting. And this is what I wrote.

Light to medium gold, the colour indicates botrytis and the aroma confirms this. The heady seductive scent is everything you expect from great late harvest styles. Apricot, honeysuckle, an infusion of lime ginger marmalade. The texture is viscous, like thick nectar, with tantalising orange honey and oriental spice. Then this zing of acidity with zesty ginger and apricot, and to balance it there's an intriguing oily character and then iced peach. As it lingers, gingerbread men say hello. Outstanding. Can't say anything more except yum, yum, yum.

So I tasted this wine several weeks ago, so why a Wine of the Week now. Well, it was the dregs in the bottle, you see, and that's one reason I love screwcaps. When we taste we tend to put the cap back on once the wine has been poured and if the bottle is not finished, then the wine inside is not deteriorating. And for some reason the acidity in Riesling seems to hold them together for longer and when there's sugar involved, then the partially-consumed wine can last for months. So I found the dregs and poured myself a glass. The wine still tasted delicious, just like I remembered it and the following night, when there was just a taste left, I finished the dregs and savoured the lingering flavour while I was cooking dinner.

Yes, the wine definitely has botrytis it says so on the back label. It could also be the 'wild fermentation' that makes this wine so unique. Alcohol is 13.5% and residual sugar is listed at 77 grams per litre.

The Wine is listed on as currently available, priced at $29 a 750ml bottle. The food suggestion makes me drool. Foie Gras. I wish! But the bottle pictured on the website is the wrong colour as this wine comes in a dark brown bottle with a screwcap and a silvery temper-evident paper strip.

Greystone, the new owners are already making their mark on the Waipara scene. Hopefully the fine tradition will be continued in the wines that continue to bear the Muddy Water name.

© Sue Courtney
11 September 2011

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