Business as usual at Dry River

Dry River Wines (Photo: Bob Campbell MW)

For many years I was a regular and enthusiastic buyer of Dry River wines. That ceased a few years ago when I decided that my stash of wine was simply too large for practical purposes and needed to be scaled back. It also coincided with a move from a house with a 2000-bottle temperature-controlled underground cellar to a new house with two 300 bottle Vintec wine cabinets and a less-than-perfect storage cupboard for the overflow.

As a result, I have many Dry River back vintages and continue to admire the ability of most to age gracefully. I opened a 2008 Dry River Syrah a few days ago – it was magnificent.

My house move resulted in a mix-up with Dry River samples – now straightened out, although I received the last two releases in one hit.

When Dr Neil McCallum, a man with strong and sometimes controversial views about viticulture, winemaking … and everything, sold his winery many Dry River devotees wondered if the wines might change drastically. On the strength of my most recent tasting, I’m pleased to say that they still taste like Dry River wines of old but with a bit more polish.

I’ve always been a fan of Dry River Craighall Riesling, but the 2016 vintage has such assertive acidity and a suggestion of green flavours that I pulled back my points to a score of 93. I’m sure, well fairly sure, that the wine will develop well with age and have a second bottle, which I plan to taste in 4-5 years.

If there is a better pinot gris producer in New Zealand I’d like to know who it is. The 2016 Dry River Pinot Gris was as rich, ripe and complex as expected. Made in an off-dry style it’s delicious now but no rush. (NZD $60. 95 points)

The 2016 Dry River Chardonnay is usually pretty tight and hard to read upon release, although I found this vintage to be a little more precocious than expected. An impressive wine with a bright future. (NZD $60. 95 points)

The 2015 Dr River Tempranillo is a dense and delicious red with a pleasing array of fruit, floral and spice flavours supported by a spine of solid tannins. I’d love to revisit it in a decade or more. (NZD $59. 96 points)

Finally, the 2016 Dry River Lovat Gewürztraminer again convinced me that this Martinborough producer towers above the country’s other winemakers who battle to get the best out of this sometimes challenging variety. (NZD $50. 96 points)

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