“Whenever we think about the life of a wine, we have to think about its death” begins Wilco the winemaker from Dry River Wines Martinborough. If, as a consumer you’re not that familiar with Dry River, it’s the ‘cult’ wine that’s difficult to get hold of unless you are fortunate enough to find a bottle in one of the lucky national or international stores that stocks it, or you are on their direct mailing list. That is what makes Simon and Amanda’s Terroir to Table Wine Event at the Martinborough Wine Centre so special. Tonight is a lucky dip from Dry River’s sparse cellar stocks and Greg and I and 28 other enthusiastic tasters eagerly await the experience.
Because their wines are all about cellaring to enjoy and scrutinize down the track, as compared to entering freshly released wines into competitions, we feel privileged to taste the two rare wines in front of us: a 1997 and a 2006 Sauvignon Blanc. Underneath the old stinky notes is evidence that indeed it’s the elements that carry the wine rather than the fruit notes. The taste is sensational.
Next up is a stunning flight of Rieslings from 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2012 which we taste as Wilco speaks about the magical secrets of winemaking, why it’s important to expose the fruit on the vine to light, how oxygen kills the wine and how sulphur aids in the longevity. Although this evening is different to the Consumer event it’s hard to not vote the 2003 as the champion. It is perfect and exudes typicity, minerality, acidity and the most floral garden notes of any Riesling ever. Jasmine and honeysuckle seem to dance their way out of the Speiglau degustation glasses. I got to taste the younger one from my favourite glass ever – a Schubert Gabriel glass. This flight proves that Riesling has great aging potential; that it’s affordable as a variety and incredibly rewarding to cellar and delicious to drink.
The Pinot Noir flight consists of a 1997, 2003, 2008 and a 2011 that’s not officially released yet. The youngest has a luscious nose of vibrant black berries. The 2008 is classic, balanced and with more evolution the spice notes are showing through beautifully alongside cherries and blackberries. With more age again, the 2003 has notes of violets and more spice than plum. Onto the impressive 15 year old Pinot Noir. The fruit has dropped away and the taste speaks for itself. It has developed virtues and reached what Wilco calls “the skeleton.” We overhear Dry River’s viticulturilist Robert respond playfully to the comment of how privileged we are to taste these wines – “They are special to me too, we don’t sit around at smoko tasting these wines you know!”
To finish – a gorgeous 1995 and 1997 Botrytis Riesling that Greg says “look like a DB draught and tastes like heaven.”
Thanks Simon and Amanda for an outstanding evening. We appreciate the hard work that goes into an event like this. We are so privileged in such a tiny town to have a store like yours supporting growers and entertaining locals. Thank you Wilco Lam you are a joy to listen to, from the beginning of the night where you honoured all the owners, winemakers and viticulturists from the past through to the present. Best winemaking comment of the night goes to you – “this is a risky business that demands iron balls, nerves of steel, great viticulture and great winemaking.” We are glad that your risk is for our pleasure!
Thanks to Chef Chris Peterson from The Village Café for the delectable Tapas that accompanied each flight – the outstanding plates to mention are the grilled watermelon, asparagus rolled in aubergine with parmesan, smoked salmon blinis, dolmas, outstanding duck liver pate and divine Kingsmeade blue cheese with quince paste. Chris is catering for all of the events and if you are feeling left out, there are more events from other vineyards still to come.