The best of Urlar
A selection of samples from Wairarapa/Gladstone (or should I call it “Wellington Wine Country”) demonstrated that Gladstone wine in general, and Urlar’s wine in particular, are on a steep quality curve. No longer are they the poor cousins to Martinborough’s more highly acclaimed wines, but seem to be developing their own distinctly pure, bright fruit character that sets them apart stylistically.
Urlar is a Gaelic word meaning “The Earth”, a fitting brand for fifth-generation Scottish farmer Angus Thomson and his wife Davina who planted their 31-hectare vineyard some years ago and manage it under an organic/biodynamic regime. It’s a beautiful site on a wide river terrace, with a landscaped lake that no doubt offers a source of water for irrigation and frost protection.
The 2016 Urlar Riesling is my top value pick from the latest releases reviewed. It captures a delicious and edgy oyster shell and orange zest character and has an appealing sweet-and-sour tension that’s surprising for a technically dry wine. (NZD $25)
Urlar’s 2016 Select Parcels Pinot Noir is the winery’s flagship pinot noir label, with significantly more weight and fruit character than the regular wine. Good now but with the potential to gain extra points with bottle age. (NZD $60)
My favourite wine was the 2012 Urlar Noble Riesling, which shows a generous amount of botrytis influence and has developed good complexity thanks to a little bottle age. No rush, but the wine is probably close to peak drinking now. (NZD $31)