Today marks the annual release of the Dry River wines, an estate that is a genuine Kiwi success story. As one of the founding producers of the Martinborough region back in 1979, Dry River set out from the beginning with the aim of producing wines that would be prized on the global stage.
The name Dry River aptly describes the conditions of the gravelly, free draining sites occupied by their vineyards. This narrow strip is a mere 1km wide and 5km long bordered on either side by the Ruamahanga River and the local township. For Wilco Lam, Chief Winemaker, the crucial factors in producing faithful and characterful expressions of their grapes include low yields, no irrigation, low levels of new oak and a ‘common sense’ farming approach; one which is sustainable and optimal, and which does not have an adverse effect on the environment.
The Chardonnay 2014 exudes stone and tropical fruit flavours, yet is only of medium weight with good palate intensity and long length, this would benefit from some cellar time as the best is yet to come. The Riesling 2014 has a sweet floral nose, with lemon sherbet and strawberry leaf on the palate, while the Pinot Gris 2014 is aromatically a little more reserved despite having a weightier body marked by rhubarb, red apples and fruit salad, elevated by a touch of residual sugar - a classic Pinot Gris in the Kiwi style. Last of the whites, the Gewurztraminer 2014 is off-dry and with all the assurances of the grape variety – a wonderful floral nose of rose petals and lychees and glossy peaches, this is deliciously fruity and open.
On to the reds, the new Pinot 2013 is often produced in a cool climate style, while the vintage itself has been heralded as a great one for the region. The estate describes it as having ‘tension between dark and light, spice and fruit, opulence and restraint as a result of the blend of three vineyards.’ The Syrah was not produced in 2012 as it was too cool to ripen successfully, the team deciding that it wasn’t up to their required standard, so the current release is 2011 vintage – a warmer vintage – described by Dry River as a spicy wine of pepper and sage, violets and roses, and of all the wines at Dry River, that with the greatest capacity for ageing.