Wine Reviews 2013
Raymond Chan reviews Urlar’s first releases for 2013
Saturday, January 12th, 2013
Angus and Davina Thomson have one of Gladstone district’s fastest growing wine labels. Their commitment to organic and biodynamic principles in grapegrowing in their 31 ha vineyard and winemaking led to Urlar’s full BioGro certification in 2010, and this no doubt is a key to their recognition and success. However it is the quality of the wines that are the basis of the brand, and with the excellent work of winemaker and viticulturist Guy McMaster, their releases sit comfortably among the leading wines of the region. Here, I review the first Urlar releases for 2013, the Sauvignon Blanc and Noble Riesling from the 2012 vintage, and the Pinot Noir from the 2011 harvest. www.urlar.co.nz
Urlar Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Cool-fermented in stainless-steel, with a small portion in seasoned oak to 13.0% alc. and 3.0 g/L rs. Bright, very pale straw colour with slight green hues, near colourless on rim. The nose is very tightly bound with elegantly concentrated aromas of lifted gooseberry fruit and chalky minerals intermixed with white florals and nuts. Dry to taste, this is very fine-featured and elegantly proportioned, the concentrated but restrained gooseberry and minerally flavours still to unfold and reveal more detail and interest. Soft textures and acidity provide a gently flowing mouthfeel with the flavours being carried to a moderately long finish with delicate gooseberry nuances. This is a fine-textured, tightly bound Sauvignon Blanc that has a resemblance to the classical wines of the Loire. Serve with Mediterranean fare over the next 3 years. Certified BioGro organic. 17.5+
Urlar Gladstone Pinot Noir 2011
Even, light ruby-red colour, a little paler on rim. The bouquet is full, deep and solidly packed with aromas of ripe, dark berry fruits with dark herbs and earth, unfolding layers of spice and oak notes. This is brooding and has the potential to blossom. Medium-full bodied, a weighty and rich, juicy core of dark red berry fruit and plums intermingle with spicy elements and oak. Fine-grained, supple tannins and balanced acidity support the fruit with good structure and vitality. The mouthfilling presence and line carry through to a very long finish featuring spicy plum flavours. This is a full and weighty Pinot Noir with rich, spicy flavours. It will reveal more complexity and interest over the next 4-5+ years. Serve with duck, pork, stews and casseroles. Hand-picked fruit given a cold soak and fermented to 14.0% alc., the wine aged in 25% new French oak barriques. Certified BioGro organic. 18.0
Urlar Gladstone Noble Riesling 2012
Bright, full and even light golden-yellow colour with good depth. This has a softly full, elegant nose with deep aromas of ripe citrus fruits, musky apricots, exotic tropical elements, nuts and caramel, all harmoniously entwined. Very sweet, the flavours of ripe and luscious citrus fruits, marmalade and musk show with depth and are softly mouthfilling. Smooth in texture, there is good acidity providing underlying tension and drive resulting in an elegance of proportion. The flavours flow seamlessly and blossom on the finish with decadent talc botrytis and musky flavours. This is a rich and seamless dessert Riesling to match with fruit desserts or serve on its own after dinner, over the next 3-4+ years. Hand-picked fruit fermented to 12.5% alc. and 115 g/L rs, the wine spending time on lees. (375 ml) 18.5
Wine Orbit - Sam Kim reviews Ular's first releases
Saturday, January 5th, 2013
Wine Orbit is a bi-monthly (subscription-only) publication featuring reviews of New Zealand wines and wines of the world. Its aim is to provide independent, extensive and detailed wine reviews, written by a senior wine judge. Click on this link to find out more about this website http://www.wineorbit.co.nz/home.html.
Here’s what renowned wine writer Sam Kim says about our wines:
Urlar Sauvignon Blanc 2012 = 5 Stars
This is seriously good. The elegantly fragrant bouquet shows white peach, feijoa, citrus and herbaceous characters. It’s concentrated and richly textured on the palate with excellent concentration, finishing long and seamless. A stylish sauvignon showing delicate fruit intensity with subtle complexity.
Urlar Noble Riesling 2012 = 4 Stars
A beautifully expressed sweet wine, the bouquet shows tropical fruit, floral, honey and marmalade characters. It’s gorgeously sweet, but not cloying, on the palate with excellent acidity providing both structure and a refreshing finish. At its best: now to 2016.
Urlar Pinot Noir 2011 = 5 Stars
Fragrant and complex, the engaging bouquet shows dark cherry, floral, game and subtle truffle notes. It’s ripe and beautifully weighted on the palate with rich texture and superb intensity, leading to an expansive finish well supported by plenty of supple tannins. Lovely harmony and balance. At its best: now to 2018.
Cameron Douglas - Five Stars for Urlar Noble Riesling
Thursday, April 4th, 2013
Urlar Noble Riesling Gladstone 2012 12.5%
N: A rich, honeyed bouquet of fresh and roasted stone fruit – apricot, peach and nectarine; hints of ginger and spice add something different and ‘cool’.
P: Crisp, sweet and urgent with strikingly concentrated flavours alongside a very creamy and velvety texture. Balanced with a long, long finish. Delicious!
Raymond Chans wine of the week – July 2013
Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Urlar Gladstone Noble Riesling 2012
Bright, full and even light golden-yellow colour with good depth. This has a softly full, elegant nose with deep aromas of ripe citrus fruits, musky apricots, exotic tropical elements, nuts and caramel, all harmoniously entwined. Very sweet, the flavours of ripe and luscious citrus fruits, marmalade and musk show with depth and are softly mouthfilling. Smooth in texture, there is good acidity providing underlying tension and drive resulting in an elegance of proportion. The flavours flow seamlessly and blossom on the finish with decadent talc botrytis and musky flavours. This is a rich and seamless dessert Riesling to match with fruit desserts or serve on its own after dinner, over the next 3-4+ years. Hand-picked fruit fermented to 12.5% alc. and 115 g/L rs, the wine spending time on lees. (375 ml) 18.5/20 Jan 2013 RRP $31.00
Empty Glass – New Comers Series [Part ii]: Urlar
Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
The following was written on “The Empty Glass Wine Blog” in March 2013:
The healthy buzz, which tends to accompany all trade fairs, seems to have little effect on the laid back composure of Urlar owner and Scotsman, Angus Thomson. Although this air of relaxation Thomson exhales around him is no doubt much easier maintained given the astounding quality of the offerings of his rather startlingly young vines brought with him to Wine New Zealand’s annual trade fair in Dublin this February.
Admirably Thomson even has the good humour to find amusement with the somewhat worrying frequency he is quizzed on the meaning of the winery’s name, ‘Urlar’, noting in a subsequent meeting that he “must have answered the question 500 times” (Actually as Thomson explains, Urlar means Earth in ancient Scottish Gaelic. And in the light of the Biodynamic approach and focus on sustainable agriculture that Thomson applies makes rather a lot of sense).
Thomson’s charm seems to have enticed more than just the punters of the New Zealand wine fair mind you, having managed to steal away assistant winemaker, Guy McMaster, from Martinborough winery Escarpment. Not only has he nabbed himself a winemaker from Martinborough, but he adds with a cheeky and playful tone that he is constantly “attempting to let them put Martinborough on their label, which they don’t seem to keen on at the moment”. One begins to think that Thomson’s repetitive inquisition as to the meaning of ‘Urlar’ may be some form of universal karma.
Outside of charm and winemaking talent, how are the cards stacked for husband and wife pair Angus and Davina? Set in Gladstone the guys seem to have hit upon some excellent terroirs and seem intent on keeping them that way. Beginning in 2007 they started to use Biodynamic processes, and in 2010, the Urlar vineyards were quite rightly certified as BIOGRO.
More importantly, does all this show through? Well, actually, yes, in rather an assertive style. Despite the youth of the vines these wines are all about a sense of place, they innately refuse to wear the whitewash, one size fits all, thin monotone fruit bomb attire many New Zealand wines have trademarked. There is massive credit due to the guys for not falling into this trap too; the fruity Kiwi Sauv-Pinot combo is undeniably (and rather more arguably unfortunately) a big and easy seller.
This terroirist style of winemaking in the new world is a substantial risk in many ways. First you need the right terroir, and that’s not easy to find. Secondly, it’s going very strongly against your traditional market. Yet, a bit of hard work and a few vintages in the Thomsons are reaping their rather rich rewards; distinct and elegant wines that demand attention. (Bearing in mind with some of the stock on Irish shelves at the moment coming from vines as young as 6 years old, the feat is no small one either). This is most definitely one to watch.
Urlar Sauvignon Blanc – Ireland’s Food & Wine Magazine
Friday, August 16th, 2013
Those of you who paid attention in Irish class will of course know that ‘urlar’ means floor or, in the case of this wine , ‘earth’. It is well named, for this Sauvignon boasts little of the ‘tear jerker’ pungency that defines many of its cousins. Instead, there’s a fuller (earthier?) texture and more robust fruit flavours. Perhaps not for all palates but definitely different.