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Notes from New Zealand, 2011

text © 2011 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on New Zealand 2011.


tasting room Notes from International tasting seminars held during the 'In Praise of Riesling' event in Waipara, New Zealand in 2011. I was on one of the three panels whose task it was to talk about the wines. The Aussie contender was easy to spot, and the German wines often shared the most delicate chracter with real finesse, as might perhaps be expected. The picture shows the main event space, in the barrel cellars of Pegasus Bay.

flight one

Weingut Keller Von der Fels Trocken 2008, Germany
Pretty ungenerous nose, very little fruit, but some salty notes. Delicate palate with some delightful stone fruit flavours and a hint of juicy nectarine into a long, clear finish.

Dönnhoff Brücke Spätlese 2009, Germany
Little sign of any Botrytis richness here, no exotic fireworks but a controlled tangerine tang. A light, shimmering but not terribly complex wine.

Müller Catoir Mandelgarten Spätlese Trocken 2009, Germany
Quite supressed aromatically, with a big lemony palate that is extremely pure but decisive, with a little hint of peach though no great complexity.

Heymann Löwenstein Röttgen Grosses Gewachs 2009, Germany
Lovely nose, some aromatic minerals, stone fruits and hints of beeswax. Some honey on the palate, with a limpid clarity and nice texture, off-dry peachy fruit but a lovely lemon rind freshness.

Bott-Gel, Schöenenberg Riesling Grand Cru 2007, France
Smooth, rich, very weighty but composed. Colour is darker and older, and it has a very, very dry lemon and grapefruit pith palate.

Hirtzberger Stezberg Smaragd 2009, Austria
A little more honey and candied peel here, but clean and focused. A rich, mouth-filling texture and plenty of peachy fruit into a long, crisply focused finish.

flight two

Pichler Loibner Berg Smaragd 2009, Austria
Lovely lifted, sherbetty brightness here, a touch of kerosene and lime. But there are floral notes too in a complex picture. Off-dry, there is great intensity to the fruit and beautiful balance.

Weingut Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Spätlese 2007, Germany
A lovely nose here, with an immaculately light touch of florality to nectarine fruit. On the palate too, a seriously juicy wine with an endless finish and rapier-like acidity. Fabulous.

Weingut Knebel Röttgen Spätlese Trocken 2009, Germany
A little petrol and honey here suggests richness. Broad and almost nutty on the palate, but the fruit becomes tropical and the acidity pushes through nicely.

Weingut Karlsmühle Lorenzhofer Auslese Long Golf Capsule 2009, Germany
Ripe, peachy nose, with an appealing glacé fruit character. Gorgeous limpid stuff on the palate, with knife-edge acidity to balance the sweet fruit in a long, precise finish.

Weingut Dr H Thanisch Bernkastler Doctor Kabinett 2007, Germany
More richness here, a little age too, with dried fruits and the palate opening up to a terrific pineapple brightness and great acidity pushing into a long finish.

Weingut Whittmann Aulerde Grosses Gewachs 2009, Germany
Almost yeasty, oatmeally quality here is unusual, and very restrained. The palate has some tropical fruit and then lime pushes through, with weight and texture.

flight three

Weingut Clemens Busch Marienburg Fahrlay Grosses Gewachs 2009, Germany
Tiny honey and toffeed notes here, much more ripe and open than some, even a slightly oxidative note that is pleasing. Palate is peachy and exuberant, with apricot richness over a nice, mineral acidity.

Weingut JJ Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese LGC 2009, Germany
Very ripe, full apricot lusciousness here, with some glacé fruit. Glorious palate, precise and long, the sweet fruit shimmering against the acidity.

Weingut Van Volxem Goldberg Spätlese 2009, Germany
Beautiful lime purity here over a little apricot note of richness. Perfectly balanced palate, the lightly grippy character giving this a racy authority despite quite lush fruit.

Weingut Koehler-Ruprecht Saumagen Spätlese Trocken 2009, Germany
A touch of yeast and minerals onto a waxy-textured palate. Very dry indeed, with some phenolic grip and power but good length.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Columbia Valley Riesling 2009, USA
Restrained on the nose, but a subtle edge of nectarine ripeness. The palate is off-dry, with a really tangy, juicy character though it is fairly simple and only moderately long.

Grosset Watervale Dry Riesling 2009, Australia
Much more kerosene and flinty notes here, very limey and Australian in profile. The palate is searingly dry and citrussy, but it finishes running to a fine, long point.

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