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The highly collectible wines of Dry River

24 March 2015|Cellar Journal

Dry River was the original pioneer of collectible fine wine in NZ. They proved that NZ could make world class wines - and in so doing, paved the way for the level of quality we see today in NZ wines. 


With customers queuing up to even get on the reserve mailing list, Dry River wines have always been tightly allocated and eagerly snapped up - and at prices envied by their competitors, but regarded as bargains by International markets and those who have enjoyed a perfectly cellared bottle of Dry River.

Of course, Dry River no longer has the same monopoly on great NZ wine it once had. And yet, thanks to their long track record, their reputation for crafting wines that blossom in the cellar remains head and shoulders above the competition.

Which is no doubt why the new custodians of the winery, winemaker Wilco Lam and GM Ant MacKenzie have taken a softly-softly approach. Rather than stamping their mark on the legacy of Dr Neil McCallum, they have wisely chosen to learn the vineyards gradually before making small but well received changes.

The 2012 Pinot Noir  is a great example of their influence - I personally believe it's the finest Dry River Pinot I've tasted, with a long, cool vintage producing a wine of perfect elegance and varietal typicity.

Then you contrast it with the 2013 and 2014 whites - from what are considered more conventional, warmer years. What stands out is the consistency of the Dry River vineyards in making great wines in any conditions. Vintage variations are reflected much more in style than in quality.

There's no substitute for vine age and great Martinborough terroir in this equation. And with the talent of Wilco and Ant thrown into the equation, the future looks just as bright for Dry River as their past.

Dry River Riesling 2014


Dry River Riesling 2014

We recently tasted the 1991 Dry River Riesling from the winery cellars and it is singing! This 2014 will be a big step up from there with advance vine age and superb vintage conditions…

19/20 - Raymond Chan
94/100 - Bob Campbell MW
95/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co.

"…The nose is beautifully elegant and pristine with tightly bound aromas of white florals, lime fruit and mouthwatering minerals, finely interwoven and softly presented. Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the flavours of lime fruits, florals and wet-stone minerals are tightly bound and concentrated. The mouthfeel is very elegant, the purity and finesse in harmony with the soft, dry, lacy acidity. The wine flows effortlessly, with a core of fruit extraction that grows in presence and drive, carrying the floral and mineral flavours to a thirst-quenching, dry, and long-lingering finish. This is a very refined and elegant dry Riesling with pristine delicacy and intricate mouthwatering flavours. Serve as an aperitif and with seafood over the next 5-6+ years. Fruit from the 'Craighall' vineyard, from vines over 20 y.o., WBP and cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 11.5% alc. and 5.5 g/L RS, TA 8.0 g/l and pH 2.9." Raymond Chan


Dry River Viognier 2014

Dry River Viognier 2014

The wine Ant McKenzie recommends as the most accessible of the range - a superb, drier style in 

2014!94/100 - Bob Campbell MW
18/20 - Raymond Chan
"Rich, ripe Viognier with orange blossom, apricot, wildflowers and Oriental spices. Big, concentrated and powerful wine with mouth-filling flavours and an almost chewy texture. High alcohol of 14.5% heightens the sense of voluptuousness and adds warmth to the lengthy finish. The wine really evolved as it sat in the glass and will certainly benefit from decanting."
Bob Campbell MW


Dry River Chardonnay 2013
Dry River Chardonnay 2013


Bob Campbell MW says it best: "So much more will be revealed after at least 3 to 4 years in bottle"

96/100 - Bob Campbell MW
18.5/20 - Raymond Chan

A change in style from new winemaking team Wilco Lam and Ant McKenzie. A more linear style with MLF discouraged…this wine will take a few years to be at its best, but then fatten out and run for a long time due to its impressive structure.

"One of the country's most concentrated and long-lived Chardonnays. At this early stage it is possible to appreciate the power and intensity of this impressively fine-boned and potentially complex wine but so much more will be revealed after at least 3 to 4 years in bottle." Bob Campbell MW

Dry River Pinot Noir 2012

Dry River Pinot Noir 2012


The jewel in the Dry River crown...more varietal than usual in 2012, this has many great years in the cellar ahead of it.

96/100 - Jamie Goode
96/100 - Wine Orbit
18.5/20 - Raymond Chan

"Very dark, deep, black-hued purple-red colour, lighter on rim. The bouquet is very fresh and youthfully aromatic with lifted primary fruits of raspberries, dark cherries and red plums, along with whole berry fermentation notes of dark red florals and confectionary. Medium-bodied, plush and juicy primary fruit flavours of dark raspberries and cherries show with lifted confectionary elements. The mouthfeel is fresh and lively with lacy acidity enlivening the fruit. Supple, fine-grained tannins underline the palate, and the wine flows with energy and vitality. The acidity carries the sweet, vibrant fruit to an elegant and sustained finish. This is an elegant, juicy, aromatic Pinot Noir with fine, supple tannins and bright acidity. Match with poultry and pork over the next 5-7+ years. Clones 5, 10/5 and some Dijon clones from the 'Dry River Estate', 'Craighall' and 'Lovat' sites, with whole bunch inclusion up to 20%, fermented to 12.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 20% new oak, mainly 300 L and 350 L hogsheads." Raymond Chan

"This iconic label lives up to its billing. The pristine yet delicately complex bouquet shows dark cherry, plum, floral and subtle spice notes. It's concentrated and focused on the palate with fine texture and outstanding persistency. The wine is beautifully structured by abundance of polished tannins. Hugely promising. Plenty of discreet power. At its best: 2017 to 2027." Wine Orbit

Dry River 'Lovat' Syrah 2011

Dry River 'Lovat' Syrah 2011

The embodiment of elegance - a heady perfume of exotic violets, pepper and spices. Will cellar beautifully as always!

93/100- Bob Campbell MW
18+/20 - Raymond Chan
5 Stars - Michael Cooper

"Dense, vibrant and youthful Syrah with raspberry, black pepper, violet, leather and cigar box flavours. Powerful and slightly edgy wine with a structure of fine tannins and gently tangy acidity. Will age well." Bob Campbell MW

"Very full, dark, near impenetrable blach-hued purple-red colour. The bouquet features intense and concentrated, refined aromas of black fruits, dark red and violet florals with black pepper and fragrant spices, revealing nuances of liquorice and plums. Medium-bodied, elegantly presented flavours of black berry and plum fruits, violets, spices and liquorice are supported by very fine-grained, silky tannins. The extraction along with bright, lacy acidity allow the fruit to show great purity with linearity. The mouthfeel is fresh and near-slippery and carries through to a very long and sustained finish of florals and spices. This is an elegant and refined, silky Syrah with floral and spicy black fruits enlivened by bright acidity. Serve with Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, especially poultry, pork and lamb over the next 5-7 years. Serine (Limmer) clone fruit from the 'Lovat' vineyard, from vines around 20 y.o., fermented to 12.0% alc., the wine was aged 12 months in 20% new 300 L barrels." Raymond Chan

"The 2011 vintage is a very classy red, matured in French oak casks (20 per cent new). From a warm growing season, it is densely coloured, rich and supple, with deep plum and black-pepper flavours, fine-grained tannins, and lovely texture and harmony. Youthful, with excellent concentration and complexity, it's an elegant, rather blockbuster, style, likely to be at its best 2015+." Michael Cooper



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