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Wine Reviews - Riesling
2015, 2014 & 2013 vintages
by Sue Courtney
Last updated 12 Sep 2016

Although some of these tasting notes may be found elsewhere on this site, this page brings together most of my Riesling notes, listed alphabetically by Producer. Click here for rating systems and abbreviations.

[2016] [2015] [2014] [2013] [2012/2011/2010/2009] [2008/2007] [2006/2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000 and older] [index]

2016 Vintage [top] [index]

Giesen Riesling 2016 (sc) The bouquet of this lighter hued wine abounds with the scent of tropical fruit and perhaps a touch of lychee. Full of flavour in the palate with honey, apple and tropical fruit including cherimoya and yellow guava. A blend of Marlborough and Waipara fruit, this lower alcohol, medium sweet style will relish chilling — it’s one for blue sky summer sipping. 10% alc. $12.99. 24Aug2016.

2015 Vintage [top] [index]

Ceres Black Rabbit Vineyard Central Otago Riesling 2015 (sc) Straw gold with a fruit driven bouquet of apple and spice with a zesty shimmer of lime. No doubt to the variety when you taste because it has super scintillating fresh apple acidity, a little of the classic Riesling sucking-a-river-stone dryness, a beautifully balanced touch of honeysuckle and a mouthwatering finish. It seems incredibly dry but the sweetness scale indicator on the back label puts it at just on the dry side of medium. Gold Easter Show. Gold AirNZ. 10.5% alc. $23.99. 24Feb2016.
Apple sherbet fills the bouquet then in the palate the juicy fruit is layered with honeysuckle with mouthwatering green apple and mandarin acidity that is well-balanced and not overpowering. Off dry to medium dry in sweetness perception, it’s clean, crisp, zesty and fresh. 10.5 % alc. $23.99. 31Aug2016.

Soho ‘Betty’ Lower Alcohol Marlborough Riesling 2015 (sc) Named after Betty Ford this pale straw gold stunner is an exciting lower alcohol style like the famous Spatlese wines of the Mosel – it’s all apples, lemons and tropical guavas with a delightful honeysuckle infusion to the aromatic allure and so light and luscious in the palate with a licking-a-river-stone minerality, a light salty tang and a wonderful shimmery thirst quenching finish. Irresistibly delicious. 9.4% alc. $19.99. 7Oct2015.
Straw gold. Lemon curd and honeysuckle fill the bouquet and it’s beautifully crisp, clean, fresh and vibrant in the palate with juicy apple and lime to the fore and then a hint of apricot nectar that adds textural complexity as well. Fruit forward and just so refreshing when served chilled to the bones – in fact it is so deliciously drinkable you need to ensure it is opened in a child-free zone! Gold & Trophy for Champion Riesling NZIWS 2015. 9.4% alc. $19.99. 9Mar2016.

Wairau River Marlborough Summer Riesling 2015 (sc) Straw gold in hue with delicate talcum powder florals and citrus nuances to the bouquet that make you think you this Riesling is dry and with its crisp refreshing acidity is does seem dry on first tasting but juicy apple, citrus and sherbet pops out of the spritzy texture with slivers of sweetness shimmering through on the finish. 26 g/ rs. Champion Riesling Easter Show 2016. 10% alc. $18.99. 6Apr2016.

2014 Vintage [top] [index]

Aronui Single Vineyard Nelson Riesling 2014 (sc) There’s a lovely sunshine glow to this light yellow gold wine. An off dry style with barley sugar nuances emerging on the bouquet and the taste is soft and round – silky in its flow with fruit flavours of mandarins and stewed apple with a touch of lime then suggestion of aromatics herbs with hints of anise. Lovely wine, nice to have just on its own. My favourite match was the side salad accompanying my Asian baked salmon - the salad comprising of iceberg lettuce, fennel fern, coriander fern, parsley, grated cheese, grated carrot, tomato and an orange juice dressing, but the kaffir lime component in the salmon was divine. 12% alc. $21.95. 23Aug2015.

Black Peak Central Otago Riesling 2014 (sc) From Queensberry near Wanaka this delightfully juicy Riesling has 42 grams per litre of residual sugar but with its refreshing acidity it is more off dry to the taste than sweet. It’s full of apples, citrus and honeysuckle then more honey and spice on the mouthwatering and persistent finish. Lovely aperitif style. 9.2% alc. $22.99. 16Mar2016.

Ceres Composition Central Otago Riesling 2014 (sc) Light gold with hints of apple blossom, musk and sweet spices wafting from the delicately fragrant bouquet, then honey, apple, quince and citrus fill the palate. There’s vinous concentration that’s commensurate with a higher alcohol, off dry style while the lusciousness abetted by a touch of botrytis is nicely offset by a flinty undercurrent. With around 12 g/l of residual sugar you expect it to be medium but citrus pith acidity makes it seem more off dry. 14% alc. $21.99. 4Mar2015.

Domain Road The Water Race Dry Riesling 2014 (sc) Citrine gold — lustrous in appearance. The bouquet is lime pith and honeysuckle — very delicate and distinctly varietal. Honeysuckle, lime and mandarin shimmer all the way through the palate with a light viscous touch. Lifted, fresh and clean; more ‘off dry’ than dry I would say as the balance of sweetness to acidity is excellent and the zestiness on the finish is bright and refreshing with a slight apple skin earthiness providing a quivering undercurrent throughout. Great with salmon cooked in a kaffir lime and ginger marinade.12.5% alc. $25. 16Jun2016.

Felton Road Dry Central Otago Riesling 2014 (sc) This straw gold wine is crisp and dry. The aromas hint of lime pith and the taste is full of the racy acidity of green apples and limes with concentration to the texture and a tickle of almost spritzy-like zest. This wine has puckery ugly duckling awkwardness right now but it will blossom into the most graceful swan and live for an exceptional number of years. 12.5% alc. $31.99. 11Feb2015.

Mount Edward Central Otago Riesling 2014 (sc) Straw gold. Aromatic with a fresh cut apple aroma, the apple traits carrying through to the bright racy palate. It's young, fresh and thirst quenching with a fairly dry, flinty backbone, a citrus pith / apple skin-like earthiness and a welcome sliver of honeysuckle sweetness. Then an intriguing salinity lingers in the mouth after the wine is swallowed - it makes you want to have another sip. 11.9% alc. $22.99. 25Mar2015.
The bouquet of this pale straw hued wine offers up citrus and honeysuckle, giving the impression the wine could be a little sweet but it is really is quite, dry – I would say almost bone dry. It’s actually quite tart and acid driven with green apple the dominant fruit at this stage of its life. But for those who like to cellar Riesling it has all the markers to develop into a rich toasty beauty – it just needs time. 11.9% alc. $22.99. 13Jan2016.

Spinyback Nelson Riesling 2014 (sc) Served lightly chilled this lemon-gold hued wine has a wonderfully aromatic bouquet that radiates everything you expect from Riesling: Citrus blossom, hints of toast, hints of kero - it smells complex and intense. Yum - crisp, fresh and vibrant - full of tangy lemon, mandarin and lime with apple brightness and a complexity that comes from the haunting acidity. Super wine at a super price. Exciting with fennel pollen, newly formed fennel seed and orange segments off my brother’s tree. 12% alc. $15.00. 22Dec2015.

Spy Valley Marlborough Riesling 2014 (sc) Lime tinged gold in hue with a bouquet that is the essence of dry Riesling – all lemon pith and lime with a vinous allure that becomes quite floral after a while. In the mouth the wine has an invigorating spine of fresh acidity and yes, it is very dry – it’s all shimmers and tingles of zingy brightness with lemonades, apples, the slightest suggestion of flower nectar / nectar and a mouthwash of lime. Vibrant, apple crisp and crunchy with a flinty core. My favourite food match was thick slices of apple pan-fried in butter atop a ham steak. 13% alc. $23.00. 23Aug2015.

The Doctor's Marlborough Riesling 2014 (sc) This almost water pale wine is aromatic and fresh with a bouquet of apples and honeysuckle and is lightly spritzy in the thirst-quenching palate with juicy flavours of red apples, honeysuckle, the most delicate touch of lime with a touch of tarragon-like herb adding an enchanting allure. It low alcohol yet has texture and length to the refreshing yet luscious medium sweet finish. 9% alc. $19.99. 26Nov2014.

Vidal Marlborough Riesling 2014 (sc) Light straw lemon gold. The bouquet is so riesling – all lime and talc and apple peel – it smells like it’s moderately dry – it smells like a neighbouring country’s rendition. Dry in the palate but with gorgeous slivers of sweetness – a delightful combo of racy lemon and lime with a tingle of sherbet, a honeyed sweetness and a toasty character building on the finish. I think it is delicious. 11.5% alc. $0.00. 6Oct2015.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Dry Riesling 2014 (sc) This dry Riesling is light straw gold in hue. The aroma is all green apples and the taste echoes this, yet there’s a hint of honeysuckle to hone down the dry edges and the effect is a strikingly crisp aromatic wine. An excellent match to sally ham steak with butter-fried slices of granny smith apples and warm coleslaw. 12% alc. $17.99. 1Aug2015.

Waimea Nelson Classic Riesling 2014 (sc) White gold, gem-like in the glass. The bouquet is redolent of honeysuckle and limes with a pithy but attractive sourness. It smells so racy and refreshing and the taste is full of apples, lemongrass and orange zest with exciting acid verve but sweetness balances and adds softness and lusciousness with floral, blossomy honeysuckle flavours lingering on the bright fresh finish and very attractive subtle nuances of tarragon too. A juicy wine to be served chilled for refreshing summer day sipping. 12.5 g/l rs. 12% alc. $20.00. 27Feb2015.

Waipara Hills Waipara Riesling 2014 (sc) There is a gorgeous floral allure to this pale straw gold wine. It’s noticeably medium in sweetness on first tasting with red apple, honeysuckle and a fresh citrussy brightness to the long juicy finish. It ticks all the Riesling boxes and has satisfying length. 12% alc. $14.99. 4Mar2015.

2013 Vintage [top] [index]

Domain Road Central Otago The Water Race Dry Riesling 2013 (sc) This citrine tinged, light yellow gold Riesling has an entrancing bouquet that is a harmony of exuberant citrus brightness with a concentrated apple richness and touches of sherbet. There’s a lovely roundness to the edges of this ultra dry wine that is so very crisp, flinty, fresh, divine. That roundness balances out the lemon / apple acidity and as this long, fine, lifted wine lingers there is a subtle suggestion of honey and the aftertaste envelops the mouth with touches of aromatic spices, lemon honey, a lovely rounded sherbet sweetness and the most subtle suggestion of ginger. I really really like this and it proved to be a versatile food match with ham steak and apples, pork pate on a sesame cracker, and prawns sizzled in garlic butter. 13% alc. $25.00. 23Aug2015.

Drylands Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) Light gold. Gorgeous aroma of talc and lime. Even a hint of kero that makes it smells like a top notch Clare Valley wine. Concentrated in the palate with juicy tropical fruit and honeysuckle and just a touch of sweetness to balance the fresh mandarin and lime flavour. Has body and weight with a flinty undercurrent – it is the whole package. I really like this. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 10Sep2014.

Felton Road 'Bannockburn' Central Otago Riesling 2013 (sc) With juicy apples to the fore on the nose and in the palate, this delicious tasting Riesling has a tingly freshness and a vibrant finish with hints of freshly squeezed tangelo and an x-factor lusciousness to the lingering aftertaste. It has 56 g/l of residual sugar but wonderfully fresh acidity to balance it. 9.5% alc. $29.99. 13Nov2013.

Felton Road Central Otago Dry Riesling 2013 (sc) Glossy gold. Lime and crushed sea shells fill the bouquet and while it smells dry there is a beguiling hint of honeysuckle wafting through. Time in the bottle has garnered textural and flavour complexity with hints of dried hay and lanolin; lemon butter, lemon grass and lemon balm; and a honey layer that imparts a sense of lusciousness to the finish yet always that steely, dry, racy acid undercurrent quivering through. Enjoy now with oysters or cellar confidently for many years. 12% alc. $22.99. 13Jul2016.

Framingham 'Classic' Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) Medium light gold with a touch of orange marmalade on the nose but the palate is more classic lemon / lime with a flinty undercurrent and a zesty brightness to the succulent honeysuckle and apple skin finish that coats and swaddles the tongue. While not as concentrated in texture as the previous wine, it has line and length with racy acidity surging again on the finish to give exciting verve and an impression of being dry. 12% alc. $19.99. 4Mar2015.

Fromm Winery Marlborough Riesling Spatlese 2013 (sc) Wow, this is quite sweet but the Riesling profile is outstanding. Floral, a little slatey, with citrus encompassing all varieties and a grapefruit component that pops. Balanced beautifully by the mouthcoating sweetness with a suggestion of botrytis it seems, it's exhilarating on its own, or perhaps match to pineapple-glazed ham on the bone. 7% alc. $31.99. 26Feb2014.

Giesen Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) This straw gold wine has a pretty floral scent and while it is quite noticeably sweet, the refreshing acidity that keeps the wine in balance. Tonight it seems a little like Muscat with its soapy honeyed flavours and subtle suggestion of spritz, but just so fresh and refreshing with a tangy citrussy finish. Must be served chilled for sunny day drinking. 10% alc. $14.99. 28Jan2015.

Greenhough Apple Valley Nelson Riesling 2013 (sc) Pale as wine can be, it's a more powerful and concentrated Riesling all round. A suggestion of kero on the nose and baked apples the dominant flavour in the palate with a honeyed richness to the medium sweet finish. 8.5% alc. $17.99. 16Apr2014.

Greywacke Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) On first tasting you get the impression the wine is searingly dry but it fleshes out beautifully in the palate with a tropical and stonefruit sweetness and touches of grapefruit and mandarin. Complex and reasonably full-bodied for NZ riesling - it reminds me more of a European style and the wild yeast ferment adds a touch of pithy funk that really is quite endearing. Great sense of acidity with beautifully rounded edges. 20 gl rs. 12% alc. $29.95. 28Jan2016.

Hawkshead Central Otago Riesling 2013 (sc) Richly aromatic with orange honey and an intriguing nutty character too. Fruit-sweet on entry to the palate with light viscosity and honey layers that coat the mouth but there are waves of flinty, sucking on a pebble, dryness that surge through the wine. Lemonades and limes are the key citrus characters and a subtle suggestion of flower musk (almost daphne-like but nowhere as strong) as the flavours persist for ages with a sense of lusciousness to the aftertaste. Lots going on in here. 11.5% alc. 4.7 g/l rs. $23. 9Aug2014.

Highfield Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) There's a hint of spice infusing the honeyed apple nose and it is almost creamy in the smooth honey and citrus palate that has such beautiful flow. It’s one of those wonderful Mosel spatlese-inspired styles with high sugar but equally high acidity to balance it, and has mouthfilling concentration to the gorgeously long finish that is accented with a touch of zesty spice. Just delicious. This is the style of Riesling I really like. $19.99. 4Mar2015.

Hunter's Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) Delightfully aromatic, tropical fruit, mango and citrus on the nose, the same in the palate. Deliciously refreshing and juicy with great acid verve and tang. 12.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 10Sep2014.

Invivo Central Otago Riesling 2013 (sc) Light gold with apple honey on the nose and a very obvious honeyed sweetness in the palate – even when chilled to the bones the concentrated sweetness holds its ground but crisp apple-like acidity adds crunch and bite and the delicious, juicy, succulent finish just lasts and lasts. A wine that can be enjoyed right now. Why wouldn’t you? 11% alc. $19.99. 26Feb2014.

Main Divide Waipara Valley Riesling 2013 (sc) Rich lemon gold. Glorious bouquet of honeysuckle and tropical fruit - it is rich and aromatic, as Riesling should be. Full of flavour, there is a little TDN /kero action going on in the background of this gorgeously toasty, honeyed styled with candied tropical fruit, sweet citrus and a touch of spritz adding life and verve. Seems quite developed, which is exciting in a way, as it is so great to have a young riesling with ‘older’ Riesling characters. An off dry style that is ready to drink and enjoy now rather than cellar, it’s 5 star quality and 5 star value. 12.5% alc. $15.99. 8Apr2015.
At Waiwera Beach on a summer evening this glowing golden wine is radiant as the sunshine. Honeysuckle and peach on the nose, and full of tropical fruit with the brightness of grapefruit and lime zest and tingles of sherbet dancing all the way through. Just delish. 12.5% alc. $19.95. 23Jan2016.

Maude Mt Maude East Block Vineyard Central Otago Riesling 2013 (sc) Pale straw with an earthy, exotic almost musky floral scent and a medium sweet taste exquisitely balanced by racy citrus freshness. It's incredibly juicy with youthful purity and clarity, a touch of spice, exotic Asian fruit, heritage apples and vibrant fizzy lime on the lingering aromatic finish. 10% alc. $22.99. 18Sep2013.
Shy on the nose and has some residual sweetness to the taste. There's a honeysuckle coating to the sweet citrus and green grape flavours and racy acidity provides a super bright, crisp, refreshing finish. 10% alc. $25.99. 15Jan2014.

Mount Riley Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) Light and delicate yet assertive in its racy freshness, it's pale straw in colour and full of freshly squeezed citrus and juicy heritage apples with flinty notes in the background. Just on the cusp of off dry, a wonderful aperitif style. 12% alc. $14.99. 25Sep2013.
There's a sweeter aura to this lighter, fresher, silky textured summer sipper. It has a lovely floral bouquet with honeysuckle and mandarin dancing across the palate and a zing of apple on the flinty finish. 12.5% alc. $14.99. 29Jan2014
A fresh, youthful, racy, acid driven style that's straw in colour with an apple blossom fragrance and a taste that is crisp and fresh with a tangy lemon and lime vibrancy and an underlying flinty edge. It simply enlivens the palate and a touch of honeysuckle rounds it out nicely. 12% alc. $14.99. 26Feb2014.

Riverby Estate Eliza Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) The concentrated citrus and honeysuckle bouquet on this golden coloured wine is just gorgeous. With 40 grams/litre of residual sugar it’s a medium sweet style with candied mandarin and almost hokey-pokey-like sweetness balanced by crisp grapefruit-like acidity and rounded edges ensuring a beautifully smooth flow. A mouth-filling curvaceous Riesling with a deft touch of kero emerging on the fabulously long finish. 13% alc. $19.99. 9Dec2015.

Rockburn Tigermoth Central Otago Riesling 2013 (sc) Gorgeously aromatic with a straw gold colour, it's very juicy, fresh and thirst quenching with apples and citrus to the fore. The medium sweetness imparted by layers of honeysuckle nectar is honed to perfection by ripples of fresh acidity and the finish is powerful and long. 8.5% alc. $29.99. 9Oct2013.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 9 Big John Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) The bouquet of this pale-hued wine is definitely aromatic – it's a gorgeous spring cottage garden flower fragrance infused with the scent of freshly squeezed lime juice and zest. Then lime, green apple and tropical guava add fascination to the flavours of this lighter alcohol style and although it has high residual sugar that gives it viscosity and an almost nectar-like honeysuckle texture, the natural acidity is zingy and racy and cuts right through the flesh. It is this sugar / acid balance that makes it such a sublime, lip-licking and refreshing wine. 9% alc. $19.99. 18Mar2015.

Spy Valley Envoy Dry Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) This is a spiffingly good wine. It has the classic aromatic dry Riesling aromas of lime blossom and talc and the most delicate hint of honeysuckle nectar to tame the pithy scent. Magnificent. It gets the tastebuds salivating. The dry theme continues through the palate with rays of sweetness penetrating the taut lively prickly grapefruit/lemon/lime acidity. Great expansion of flavours and vinosity in the palate - this is a concentrated full-bodied style for the variety and hard to fault. Very good with a vegetable/cheesy omelette thing. 14% alc. $32.00. 7May2015.

Two Paddocks Central Otago Riesling 2013 (sc) Pale straw lemon in colour and a little shy on the nose with tangy apple sherbet aromas coming to mind, I like the looks and smell but I’m in love this coy little number as soon as I kiss it. So light, fresh and clean – yet I know it is wine because of the vinosity and increasing concentration. It tastes like the most freshly squeezed combo of lemon, lime and tangelo, the sweetness of the tangelo balancing the tart lime and lemon. Then pretty apple blossom nuances emerge on the lightly spritzy finish that’s super long, full of verve and tinged with honeysuckle that’s perfectly balances the flinty apple skin crispness that lingers. The Red Bank Vineyard in the Earnscleugh sub-region of Alexandra is one of New Zealand’s most southern riesling vineyards. 5 grams/litre residual sugar, low pH and a racy 8.6 grams/litre of total acidity. 12% alc. $30.00. 12Mar2015.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Dry Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) Just the merest hint of citrine to the glossy hue. Beautifully fragrant with lime blossom and honeysuckle nectar and fresh juicy flavours of honeysuckle, mandarin and lime with just a hint of sweetness to balance the racy acidity that leaves an impression of dry. Wonderfully quenching and refreshing. 12.5% alc. $14.99. 20Nov2013.
A little shy on the nose but fresh and tasty in the palate with orange zest brightness and a lime-rich tang. There's ginger-like spice, a suggestion of honeysuckle and a lively ultra-long and very refreshing finish. A scintillating dry style. 12% alc. $14.99. 26Feb2014.
Straw gold. Honeysuckle and lime aroma. Bright zesty flavours of lime and talc over a fresh flinty backbone with the honeysuckle emerging gently on the bright persistent finish. 12% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 10Sep2014.

Waimea Classic Nelson Riesling 2013 (sc) It smells crisp and fresh with alluring talc floral notes and there's plenty of racy acidity in this off dry to medium style with flavours of apples and mandarin with just a touch of honey and an incredibly long finish. 11.5% alc. $15.99. 4Dec2013.
Light gold with a lemon glow. Tangy aroma with a nuance of sherbet. Bright, fresh and tangy in the lightly spritzig palate, and while there's plenty of acidity that gives an impression of dry, there's underlying sweetness bringing it all into balance with a touch of apple skin on the finish. 11.5% alc. $20. 20Dec2013.
Light straw gold. Juicy aromas of citrus and tropical fruit then in the palate a pleasing and appealing off-dry sweetness with honeysuckle, mandarin and just a touch of ginger-like spice. Fresh and lively, terrific summer drinking without being too heavy. 11.5% alc. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 10Sep2014.
So fragrant, so fruity, so tasty, so thirst quenching, so delicious… this wonderfully exciting off dry style has a zing of ginger and lashings of tropical fruit and mandarin that imparts great sweet-sour tension. It takes chilling well and will be totally irresistible summer drinking. 13.6g/l rs. 11.5% alc. $15.99. 24Sep2014.

Wairau River Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) Light gold. Warm rich aroma of apples and lime with a touch of blossom. Earthy and flinty, some apple crispness in behind. Very dry, fresh and bitey with a very subtle suggestion of succulent honeysuckle infusing the crisp lime finish. NZIWS Gold Medal Tasting. 10Sep2014.

Zephyr Marlborough Riesling 2013 (sc) Light gold with a honeysuckle scent underpinned by a flinty earthy note. Fresh and vibrant tasting with plenty of lemon, orange and lime, a tingle of ginger and a touch of honeysuckle nectar in behind to balance the racy acidity that totally carries the finish of the wine. A very exciting cellar prospect that is bound to take on some toasty notes with age but the big acid needs careful food matching right now. 12.5% alc. $23.99. 26Feb2014.

[2015] [2014] [2013] [2012/2011/2010/2009] [2008/2007] [2006/2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000 and older] [index]

Index to Varietal Tastings
Chardonnay Gewurztraminer
Pinot Gris Sauvignon Blanc Other Whites
Bubblies Sweeties Pinks
Cabernet dominant Merlot dominant Pinotage
Pinot Noir Shiraz Other Reds

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