Central riesling

Mount Edward owner Duncan Forsyth in front of his Drumlin vineyard (Photo: Supplied)

I’m a fan of Central Otago riesling. I like their energy, minerality, purity and power. Most appear to have good cellaring potential, although I have very limited experience with bottle-matured Central Otago riesling over, say, 10 years. I did taste an eight-year vertical of Felton Road Block 1 Riesling. All were in fine shape and the oldest could clearly handle even more bottle age.

With age, riesling changes rather than improves. It goes through a metamorphosis, developing toasty and, sometimes, kerosene-like characters as the acidity mellows.

Three rieslings from Mount Edward appeared on my tasting table recently. I tasted them in ascending order of sweetness. The wines are from two different subregions: Gibbston and Lowburn and spanned the 2015 and 2016 vintages.

The 2016 Mount Edward Riesling (NZD $25 – 92 points) is made from organic vineyards in Lowburn. Soils are fine loess over schist gravels on both sites, cropped at an average of 7t/ha. Harvested mid-April at an average brix of 22. Winemaking; whole bunch pressed, fermentation in a mixture stainless steel barrels and tanks, using wild yeast and minimal temperature control, aged on gross less for 3 months. RS 8g/l. Mount Edward considers this to be an off-dry wine, but fairly aggressive acidity puts it into the dry category in my opinion. A good wine that needs a little time to mellow and integrate.

The 2015 Mount Edward Morrison Vineyard Riesling (NZD $29 – 93 points) is a single vineyard wine, also organic, from Lowburn. It has 12 gms of residual sugar balanced by attractive acidity to produce a medium-dry style with lots of attractive sweet and acid tension. Appealing now but with potential if you prefer bottle-aged riesling.

Finally my least favourite wine, the 2016 Mount Edward Drumlin Vineyard Riesling (NZD $29 – 89 points) from a hillside vineyard in Gibbston. The sweetest of the three wines (medium-dry) with 25 gms of residual sugar. I liked the sugar and acid balance but just found the flavours to be a little underripe and the acidity slightly too hard. Otherwise fine.

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