Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ravishing Central Otago Regional Rieslings

A few years ago, a wine fanatic Max Marriot burst on the Central Otago wine scene by releasing a set of bottlings of Rieslings that were sourced from grapes from different sub-regions.  It’s not unusual to see such intended approach in Germany, where, say a Mosel producer will have parcels of vines in different sites in different villages.  But Max was the first to do so on a decent scale in this country, where very few winemakers had done o with other suitable varieties, especially Pinot Noir.  SWMBO and I both love Riesling wines, especially from the Mosel, so to follow the Auburn wines from Max was very easy.  The Auburn Central Otago Rieslings are in the Kabinett/Spatlese style, the former if you take into account the fruit-sweet styles of now, or the latter if you think of wines from two plus decades ago.  The prominent feature in either case is that the resulting wines are deliciously ravishing.  Max has stopped making the wines now, as he has moved away.  We purchased the set of 2012 vintage wines, and we had the opportunity of tasting them together.
The 2012 Auburn ‘Northburn’ Central Otago Riesling is 11.0% alc. and 36 g/L RS.  When we first tasted this it was the more austere of the set.  Although next-door to Bendigo, the wines have never been as ‘hot’ in interest and style.  At that time, I like the wine, but it was surpassed by the others.  With a little bottle-age, it has developed beautifully, into perfect proportions.  Medium in sweetness, the acidity is poised, and the taste of development not advanced at all.  The 2012 Auburn ‘Lowburn’ Central Otago Riesling was a richer wine tasted earlier on.  It had more honey and fruit sweetness, and even some funkiness along with minerality.  A little lower in alcohol at 10.5% and with more RS at 45 g/L.  It still tasted that way in all respects, but the kero development was a little more than the Northburn.  Now it had a complexing sweet and sour edge, which detracted a touch, but not in any way to take away from the ravishing nature.
Then onto the warmer regions.  Does warmer growing not only result in richer fruit but also less acid poise?  Do the wines develop more quickly?  It usually is the case.  The 2012 Auburn ‘Bannockburn’ Central Otago Riesling was certainly more honied   And it was the case now, with the riper tropical and exotic fruit edge, along with more fulsome body.  And yes, some kero secondary development, on par with Lowburn wine, but without the sweet and sour.  Absolutely delicious.  The 11.0% alc. was paired with 34 g/L RS, less than the previous wines, but intriguingly sweet and richer overall.  The 2012 Auburn ‘Bendigo’ Central Otago Riesling came highly recommended.  (Some wine reviewer had rated it 20/20.)  And it certainly delivered layers of exotic fruit, honied richness, toasty and kero complexity and great depth, drive and line.  I suppose multi-dimensional may be a bit overboard, but multi-faceted is applicable.  The overarching character was its deliciousness and opulence, while retaining a line of freshness and cut.  It was the least in alcohol at 9.5%, and the highest in sweetness at 62 g/L RS.  Verging on the Auslese scale for us.  
Postscript: We had Shaunie call around for an impromptu visit.  He’s a bit of a hospitality veteran and also a wine lover, of course.  SWMBO felt it obligatory to open another one of the Max Marriot wines, the 2012 Auburn ‘Aura’ Central Otago Riesling.  Made in what Max would definitely put into the Auslese category, the fruit from Bannockburn, and fermented to 10.5% alc. and 72 g/L RS.  In reality not too far removed from the Bendigo bottling.  This was less rich, luscious and opulent, but with more kero purity, drive, intensity and depth.  Still sweet, but not seemingly so as the Bendigo wine.  Yet the concentration and sheer compactness far more defined than the Bannockburn bottling described above.  What amazing diversity in these wines.  SWMBO and I have more bottles of each of these, so we can see them again, further down the track.      

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