Lately I seem to have been having a love-hate affair with Riesling. I've tried to work out why. Maybe it's simply the wine in the bottle because I've had more misses than hits when it comes to my palate approval. It's been making me shy away from Riesling for a casual drink. Call me a fussy drinker but I don't like Rieslings that are mouthpuckeringly acidic when cold, flabby and sweet at room temperature, one dimensional in the flavour profile or too chalky and cheesy. But at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards gold medal tasting last week all of the wines put through as gold medal winners were good and some were even exciting, especially those with textural intensity and some exoticness to the taste. Then I tasted two older wines, Hunters Marlborough Riesling 2008 and John Forrest Collection Marlborough Riesling 2007, and the answer was in front of me. I prefer young Rieslings that are succulent and fruity and drier Rieslings with a little age.
Last Wednesday my regular tasting was cancelled so I asked the wine pourer to put together a tasting, similar to one we would be having at First Glass. One of the wines was a Riesling, a drier style Riesling with a little age. It pressed all the excitement buttons immediately.
Chard Farm Central Otago Riesling 2009 is a light gold coloured, textural looking wine. The bouquet is perfumed and floral and the taste is intriguing with some fruity exoticness – yet it tastes like it has some age. Beautifully harmonious and rich with a delicate honeysuckle nuance to the pure citrus flavours, and an underlying flintiness coming through, it finishes with a touch of sweetness to indicate to me it's off dry.
"This is really, really good," I said to the wine pourer, and when the clean, understated label was revealed, it brought back memories of that treacherous road into the Chard Farm Vineyard in the narrowest part of the Gibbston Valley.
We accompanied the wine with a meal the next night, pan-fried gurnard and salad. And the wine continued to sing.
The grapes for this come from the company's Viper Vineyard at Parkburn in the Crownwell Basin. The notes say it is dry in style with extended lees contact to enhance weight & texture. Alcohol clocks in at 12.5%. With a pH of 2.98, total acidity of 7.75 g/litre and residual sugar of 16 g/litre, the IRF rating is medium dry. It costs about $24. Check out www.chardfarm.co.nz for more.
© Sue Courtney
7 November 2011