Weighing in at only 12.5% abv, this is a dense, dark red with touches of violet, somewhat darker and less bright than the pinot noir. The nose parades ripe brambly fruit, spice, lifted floral notes, but also ripe touches of treacle and prune. On the palate, juicy loganberry and raspberries, lots of red fruit, touches of spice, pepper and sap, held in check by highly polished tannins. Extremely expressive and very good indeed.
The cool climate and poor soil of the Dry River bed, married with Dr Neil McCallum’s insistence on tiny yields and his utmost dedication to quality, has resulted in Dry River’s wines being recognised as New Zealand’s finest. These are handcrafted wines made in boutique quantities of 2-3,000 cases a year. The most important part of winemaking at Dry River happens prior to harvest, severe pruning and crop thinning are standard practice here, while in the cellars there is minimum human interventionl intervention. The Sauvignon Blanc is a far cry from the typical examples found in New Zealand, with the usual overt tropical flavours being exchanged for more restrained stone fruit characteristics tempered by a zesty acidity. The Craighall Riesling is a delicious late harvest wine akin to a German Spätlese in style with hints of lime zest and spice. The Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay are frequently New Zealand’s most concentrated and long lived, it is recommended that you lay these down for two to three years before drinking them.
At the southern tip of the North Island sits Martinborough, are area of great terroir diversity. Numerous mall scale producers go to great lenghts in the pursuit of quality investing much of their effort in vineyard management and achieving low yields. Palliser and Dry River demonstrate just how good the wines from the region can be.