Formerly of Regional Wines, Raymond Chan has recently reviewed Urlar’s wines (see his comments below).
URLAR – THE EARTH PREVAILS
Angus and Davina Thomson made a strong impact with the release of their Wairarapa wines under the Urlar label. Urlar means ‘The Earth’ in Gaelic, and like its translated name, the wine growing operation seems to have weathered the tough economic times and is beginning to flourish. After a period of caution, the Thomsons have begun an expansion, with the aim of more Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir on the agenda. Winemaker Guy McMaster is a key figure in this; his skills have ensured quality wine that reflect the Gladstone site and growing conditions faithfully over the recent vintages. The current range is very smart. From the 2010 vintage, the wines are certified organic by BioGro.
Urlar Gladstone Riesling 2010
The Urlar label has become synonymous with excellent, complex, character-filled Riesling wines in the short time is has existed. But then again, it is not surprising that Riesling should do so well, as it seems to be the Wairarapa’s ‘next best varietal’ after the proven Pinot Noir. This new Urlar release is light golden hued straw with the full, weighty expression of exotic tropical fruits, ripe citrus fruits with a touch of honey on nose and palate. Dry to taste, there is depth and mouthfeel, and good acidity to keep things sufficiently racy and allow the minerality to show. At present, there is a little reduction subduing the aromas and flavours, adding to the tightness of youth. However, wait another year, and it’ll blossom, and drink well for another 4-5 years. A classically proportioned 12.5% alc. with a seemingly dry 7.1 g/L rs. 16.5+/20 Nov 2010
Urlar Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2010
This is a most consistent label, and vies with Palliser Estate as one of the richest Sauvignon Blancs from the Wairarapa. Straw yellow with the barest golden hint, the bouquet is one of ripe passionfruit backed by some of the decadent pungent thiol aromatics, along with an underlying herb/nettle amalgam. On palate, there is depth and concentration of fruit, handling the 14.0% alc. well. Lovely passionfruit and ‘sweaty’ elements along with bracing, fresh acidity. This will fill out over the next year and layers of interest from the partial barrel ferment will emerge. A very good Sauvignon Blanc from the slow-to-ripen 2010 harvest that will be delicious with all seafood over the next 2-3 years plus. 18.0-/20 Nov 2010
Urlar Gladstone Pinot Gris 2009
Made in a full-bodied, complex style, this was 100% barrel-fermented to dryness in old French oak barrels to 14.0% alc. and 2.0 g/L rs, then aged in these barrels for 12 months with lees contact and stirring. Light golden straw yellow in colour, this has a dense nose of ripe yellow stonefruits backed by nutty lees work and an underlay of spicy oak which shows in waves of nuances. Dry to taste, this has power, warmth from the alcohol, and depth of weight and texture on palate. A full-bodied wine with a Chardonnay like aspect, partially from the oak contribution, this should match poultry and pork dishes extremely well over the next 3-4 years. 17.5-/20 Nov 2010
Urlar Gladstone Pinot Noir 2009
Does the wider Wairarapa behave similarly in vintage expression? The general belief is ‘yes’. If so, there will be a great debate over whether 2008 or 2009 is the better vintage. For Angus Thomson and Guy McMaster, 2009 is the preferred, as the 2008 warmth gave a bigger, more powerful wine. Size isn’t everything… Deepish, purple-hued ruby red, this has a refined, tight aromatic nose of enticingly sweet and ripe red berry fruits with dark fruit and oak spices adding interest. The perfumed expression is reinforced on the palate. Fine and elegantly proportioned, this has intensity and concentration with real refinement that belies the 14.5% alc. Fine-grained tannins lend suppleness and this allows the fruit to feature. The 25% new French barrique maturation is perfect and will add shine over the next 5-7 years. Roast duck will be the best food match. 18.5+/20 Nov 2010.