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A noble Otago vintage

Snow in Central Otago (Photo: Bob Campbell MW)

Central Otago can produce great late harvest riesling year after year producing wines with a seductive mix of stone and citrus fruit flavours often with a thread of appealing mineral character, but so-called “noble” wines that rely on the concentrating effects of botrytis are rarer than gold nuggets in the Kawarau River.

Several of my standout wines in a recent sweet wine tasting revealed that 2016 favoured the development of good, clean botrytis in several rieslings. Mt Difficulty produced a number of very good wines so I rang general manager/winemaker, Matt Dicey to find more.

Matt explained that an unusual combination of wet weather in February followed by an overcast March favoured the development of botrytis in some of their vineyards, particularly the Silver Tussock vineyard.

“We didn’t have the usual classic sunny autumn weather despite 2017 being one of the hottest vintages for ages,” explained Matt. “The wines don’t seem to reflect that fact that it was a hot vintage – acidity levels were good, sometimes a bit lower than usual but the acids were softer and fruitier, particularly appealing.”

The 2016 Mt Difficulty Growers Series Silver Tussock Tinwald Burn Noble Riesling, (NZD $27 for 750ml – 95 points) is a particularly appealing wine. It retains good varietal flavours but they are supported with a luscious cut of bush honey. This wine represents exceptional value.

Not too far away in the Bendigo subregion, Mondillo produced a similarly appealing wine with perhaps greater botrytis intensity. The 2016 Mondillo Nina Riesling, (NDZ $36 for 375ml – 95 points) has particularly impressive power and purity.

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