Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Dry River Wines - Martinborough. Recent tasting
By Phil Parker - wine writer.
Phil runs wine tours in Auckland see: http://www.finewinetours.co.nz/
Neil McCallum started Dry River in 1979. Dry River shares the Craighall vineyard with Ata Rangi and also sources fruit from contract growers in the area. Plus they have bought the Arapoff vineyard in Martinborough
Dry River would easily be in the top three NZ producers of Gewürztraminer, 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 just over two million.)
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. 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.” Sheesh – what modesty.
Dry River Chardonnay 2008
A very elegant and subtle Chardonnay – clean, crisp and lightly mineral on the palate but with a lingering finish. Flavours of lime, white peach, grapefruit and yeasty brioche.
Dry River Syrah 2008
We drank this with a lamb leg roast and rich mushroom gravy. Lovely lush and sweet ripe black currant and berry flavours with a hint of spicy white pepper, and a glorious lasting aftertaste.