Waipara Riesling, and a little bit of Alsace· Written Wine Reviews
Sep 13th, 2012 | By Jayson Bryant | Category: Written Wine Reviews
Waipara, it is what it is, right? Well sitting just 45 minutes north of Canterbury seems to be everything that 1,200 hectares normally isn’t. Its lush rolling hills, backdropped by beautiful mountain range. Within this valley/region there are now 80+ vineyards.
Until recently, this now lauded region wan’t given much column space. Sure there was the odd mention of Pegasus bay, they’ve marvelled the world for quite a while. There was even a mention Daniel Schuster, Waipara’s wine pioneer. The region is renowned for its Pinot Noir and Riesling, but they also have other varieties of note, mainly the mineral and floral laden Sauvignon Blanc, Rich, textural Pinot Gris and full Chardonnays.
It’s the Riesling that intrigues me though. With the aid of the regions blend of soil profiles, I actually typed ‘soul’ by mistake, but that’s the way I feel about the regions Riesling. It definitely has soul, as does most of the producers wines. The wines tend to be full of character, nothing typified the region more than Daniel Schuster, and if you can find his wines in friends cellars it’s well worth encouraging them to crack the seal on a few of them.
Mountford Estate has all the hallmarks of a longterm player. The labels that adorn the bottles are a nod in the direction of Burgundy. They first planted in 1991, they continue to acknowledge their influences. With wines fermented in open top fermenters, followed by cold maceration prior to spending 16 months in French oak.
As much as the old world is respected and traditional methods used, even bio-dynamic farming methods are used, that’s where it ends. They went outside the box with their winemaker. An incredibly gifted C P Lin holds the reins. Majoring in mathematics, then studying winemaking. He’s able to converse in numerous languages. As his name suggests, he was born in Asia, emigrated to New Zealand when he turned 13, and what may be an obstacle to many, for he is also blind, CP Lin turned that to his, and NZ’s, advantage and became a winemaker of note. Like a piano tuner, he’s able to tune his wines to sing in perfect pitch.
Mountford Volupteux Riesling 2011
As the name suggests, this wine is full on the palate. The rich sweet orange tea, and white peach. A sweet wine, with 90 grams of residual sugar, enough to seduce ones soul. A honied peach palate awaits. A delightful spritzy character refreshes the taste buds. Shouldn’t be chilled too much, that would dampen the reduced aromatics and tighten the palate too much.
Mountford Hommage a l’Alsace Riesling 2011
Another nod to the old world. Definitely a wine for Spring or Autumn. A combination of Muscat and Gewurztraminer are the two key players. It also has the resemblance of Riesling’s fresh acidity. The Muscat is the most noticeable, but the floral nature of Gewurztraminer shines through. Not strikingly impressive on opening, but wait for a few minutes and the wine changes. It changes continuously throughout tasting. Full and sweet on the palate. Fresh acidity holds this wine together. Great to see some white blending.
Mountford Estate Riesling 2011
Pale straw in colour with dried herbs and fresh fruit salad on the nose. Astounding fruit freshness. Satisfyingly elegant, yet quite simple. Well made and perfectly balanced, the palate was a little too broad yet retained the Waipara quality hallmarks.
Pegasus bay doesn’t need an introduction, unless you’ve been living under a rock. Along with Daniel Schuster, Pegasus bay have been the regions pioneers and flag bearers. This is truly a family winery. With all generations involved in the day to day running of the business. The region, similar to central Otago and Martinborough, is dominated by family winery ventures.
Pegasus Bay Aria 2009
Pegasus Bay are situated between the towns of Amberley and Waipara, close to Pegasus Bay. Enjoying a sheltered climate and ideal soil profile, they make some of the regions most desired wines. It’s the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that has impressed me most.
As soon as the bottle is opened there’s a rich, powerful honey and leon aroma. An assertive wine, it tells you what it’s about, where it comes from, and how it likes to be treated. The rich intenseness continue through to the palate. Pear, lime and toffee characters dominate the beeswax and spiciness.
Well cellared and this wine will reward you over the next 8 years, but it’s drinking so well now.
Pegasus Bay Bel Canto 2010
The pale straw colour belie the strength of this wine. If you don’t like austerity measures, as much of Europe doesn’t right now, then this wine may not suit you. Strikingly dry, with good grip. Not shy in the fruit front either, with Lime and a mango melange wrestle the palate. Killer minerality, with flint and wet river stone to die for. Bang on the money!
Main Divide Riesling 2010
The second label of Pegasus Bay, but no less as important. This Riesling offers great value for money at sub $20. Full of tangy lemon fruit burst with an off-dry sweetness. Voluptuous, almost curvy on the palate, this wine is full with some gentle grip. Has some edginess. lengthy finish.