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edited by Sue Courtney

Michelle Richardson's new releases
© Sue Courtney
15 August 2006

When multi-award winning winemaker Michelle Richardson left Villa Maria Wines after seeing the 2002 vintage into barrel, she said was going to have a rest from winemaking for a while to consider her career options. But it didnít take long for her to be drawn back to doing what she knows and does best - and in December 2004 the first Richardson Wines were released. Michelle does not own any vineyards, instead she sources fruit from the regions she believes display the best characteristics for the wines she wants to make. Thus, she has chosen Marlborough for Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, Waipara for Riesling and Central Otago and the Waitaki Valley for Pinot Noir. And she uses winery space in someone else's Marlborough winery.

Here are notes of the latest releases, or in the case of the 2006 - soon to be released wines.

Richardson Waipara Riesling 2006
With honeysuckle and delicate spices on the nose, its smell rather delish with medium sweetness, but be prepared for a crisp, tight, steely palate. It will emerge from its shell over the next few months and the purity of the lime, nectarine and crisp apricot fruit that comes to the fore on the slightly talcy finish will become rich and fleshy. 12.5% alc. $25.

Richardson Waipara Riesling 2005
There's a similar character to the 2006 with its floral, spicy aromatics and purity of fruit, but with its lower sugar the fruit is more in the lemon/lime spectrum. Crisp and steely with a spritzy graininess to the texture and a long, fine, delicately spicy, winey finish, this is developing beautifully. 4.5g/l rs. 13% alc. $25.

Richardson Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Soft, green fruit aromas with a hint of feijoa, a wafting of mellow oak and a nuance of a funky wild yeasts that makes add an extra dimension of fragrance to the alluringly complex aroma. With its soft, oily palate and ripe, balanced fruit with hints of grapefruit on the finish, this is drinking deliciously right now and honestly, I could enjoy this with or without food. 20% wild yeast ferment in older oak. 13% alc. $25.

Richardson Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Crisp, steely and just a little grassy on the nose -it smells very fresh, as young Sauvignon Blanc should be. In the palate it's toasty and pungent with crisp apple and gooseberry fruit with nuances of mellow oak adding softness while melon and stonefruit loiter in the background. Fifteen percent was fermented in older barrels with wild yeasts, but the funky, mealy characters are not apparent right now - if you like the characters that wild yeasts introduce, expect them to start evolving as the wines garners complexity over the next few months. 13% alc. $25.

Richardson Marlborough Chardonnay 2005
Toasty, creamy, soft and savoury on the nose and creamy and mellow in the palate - at first - with spicy oak, a fine underpinning of citrussy fruit, a full-bodied, mouthfilling, ripe fruited finish and a savoury, smoky aftertaste. It has had complete natural ferment in older oak and although it is absolutely delicious to drink right now, the tight grainy backbone hints at excellent cellaring potential. Rated as sensational, this could be a benchmark wine for Michelle. 13.5% alc. $36.

Richardson Central Otago Pinot Noir 2005
With a polished, smoky aroma and a smoky, earthy, savoury taste that has just a little of that elusive pinot funk and a nuance of Central Otago's wild herbs, this is a rich, warm, seductive style of Pinot Noir. It's beautifully balanced, rich and long with luscious velvety tannins, spicy cherry fruit that has a fruit cake richness, smoky spicy oak, a hint of bitter chocolate and a touch of orange that imparts a vibrant tangy note to the lingering aftertaste. made from a blend of Lowburn and Bendigo fruit with 40% new oak. 14% alc. $50.

Buy online from Wines distributed in New Zealand by Merchant Wines.

Copyright Sue Courtney
August 2006

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