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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To Dry For - Dry River Wines Martinborough New Zealand

By Phil Parker, wine writer and operator of Auckland Fine Wine Tours Ltd.

Dry River Wines, of Martinborough held a tasting of their latest releases in central Auckland over the weekend.

Neil McCallum started the winery in 1979. Dry River shares the Craighall vineyard with Ata Rangi and also sources fruit from contract growers in the area. Plus they have recently bought the Arapoff vineyard in Martinborough

Dry River would easily be in the top three NZ producers of Gew├╝rztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They produce a miniscule two and a half, to three thousand cases of wine a year. (Nobilo makes over two million.)

The tastings really are labour of love and a gift to the wine community, as Dry River’s loyal mail list members snap up nearly all the output in advance. A little is exported and anything spare generally goes within a few weeks of release. There is even a waiting list to get on the mailing list – basically you can be added if the member doesn’t order any wine for three consecutive years, or they die. Could be a motive for homicide. Coming soon to your screen: WCSI – Wine Crime Scene Investigation.

Anyway, Neil McCallum sold Dry River to El Molino Wines of California and has largely handed over the reins to young winemaker Katy Hammond, but he stays on as chief winemaker. Now am I getting old or are winemakers getting younger? Sadly, all of the above, I’m afraid. The slim bubbly blonde looks no older than 25 and is passionate about her craft. She sees the wines as feminine and each with a personality of its own.

Despite being owned by a US company there are no plans for expansion or even increase in output. In fact, McCallum plans to spend his spare time at Dry River “…doing it better.”

The wines -

Dry River Estate Gewurtztraminer 2009 $NZ48
Classic spicy flavours of ginger plus Turkish delight, with floral rose aromas. Slightly flinty and mineral in a just off-dry style. Fruit sourced from 30 year-old vines.

Dry River Pinot Gris 2009 $NZ50
Flavours of poached pear, quince and peach and a hint of honey.

Pinot Noir 2008 $NZ82.00
Cherries and dark berries on the palate, with a slight smokiness on the nose, silky texture but a dry finish.

Late Harvest Craighall Riesling 2009 $NZ56 (750 ml bottle)
At 80 grams per litre of sugar, (a can of Coke is about 110 g/L) definitely a dessert style wine. Lemon and lime and citrus flavours with a hint of a hint - of oregano. Mouthwatering crisp acidity balances the sweet fruit flavours.


  1. Thats great, atleast someone is taking the initiative.

  2. Its good measures should be taken for expansion or increase in output.

  3. Yeah, its important that relative measures should be taken soon.