Wine Reviews 2018
Cameron Douglas Reviews
Urlar Riesling 2016 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Fragrant and feminine with aromas of sweet mandarin and red apple, some florals rose layers and fresh wet rock soil ideas. Dry on the palate with vibrant acidity then flavours of citrus – both lime and lemon, some barley sugar and apples. Wild flowers and honeysuckle, long finish, a great aperitif and very tasty wine. Drink now and through 2030.
Urlar Pinot Gris 2016 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Ripe, fruity spicy and complex with aromas and flavours of bosc pear and apple, some white pepper and sweet rose, a mineral earthy layer and gentle oak spice layers. Medium+ acidity in a just dry style; flavours of white fleshed fruits are persistent; a complex and well made example. Drink now and through 2022.
Urlar Select Parcels Sauvignon Blanc SV 2015 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Very attractive bouquet of both variety and sense of place – a mix of sweet citrus fruits and peaches with some barrel spice and lees layers. Dry, high acidity, layers of flavours and textures, spice and ripe fruit. Long detailed finish, complex, balanced and well made. Drink now and through 2026.
Urlar Select Pinot Noir 2016 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Complex bouquet of Pinot Noir with ripe red fruits including red and darker cherry, raspberry and baked strawberry, a layer of fine oak and silty soil earthy qualities. Dry on the palate with youthful fine tannins and abundant acidity, a chalky texture and flavours that reflect the nose. Lengthy finish, balanced and well-made. Drink now and through 2024.
Urlar Select Parcels Pinot Noir 2016 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Youthful, fruity, concentrated and complex with aromas and flavours of tart and sweet cherry, ripe cranberry, tart and sweet raspberry, fine oak tannins, plenty of acidity and a youthful, lengthy finish. A lovely example with a vibrato and energy linked to vineyard, ripe fruit and excellent winemaking. Best from 2020 through 2030+.
Urlar Noble Riesling 2016 Gladstone, Wairarapa
Ripe, sweet, perfumed and lush bouquet with lime and mandarin, honey and beeswax, peaches and apricots. Abundantly sweet with high acidity and low alcohol; lengthy finish, delicious. Drink now and through 2020.
Raymond Chan Reviews
Urlar 2016 Whites, and ‘Select Parcels’ 2015 Sauvignon and 2016 Pinot Noir
I’ve reported on the changes of style at Urlar in Gladstone, in the Wairarapa with the 2016 vintage. This coincided with the departure of Guy McMaster as winemaker and the arrival of Carol Bunn from Central Otago. The wines made by Guy were in the complex, sophisticated and textural style, and Carol has made a more fruit-expressive style which has a broader and more accessible market-friendly style. Both approaches have their positive points, but the latter arguably was more suitable for Urlar. Following the 2016 wines from harvest time, I’ve been fortunate to see the wines at diffident stages of their development. I admit they have come across pretty attractively to me, so it is with anticipation that I review the 2016 wines in their finished state, after they have been given a good chance to settle down, and as they come available to the market.
Urlar Gladstone Riesling 2016
Bright, very pale straw-yellow colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is fresh with taut and finely concentrated, bright aromas of lime fruit with subtle notes of white florals, honeysuckle and suggestions of toasty nuances. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is tightly bound with an elegantly concentrated core of lime fruit, white florals and minerals with suggestions of honey and toast, The palate is crisp with a fine-textured line of fruit extract and phenolics, with underlying thirst-quenching acidity. The wine has very good linearity and carries to a long, lingering, soft-textured, dry finish. This is a taut and finely concentrated dry Riesling with lime, floral and mouthwatering mineral flavours on a dry, textural palate with good linearity. Serve as an aperitif and with shellfish over the next 4-5 years. Hand-picked fruit, WBP and cool-fermented to 12.0% alc. and 6.0 g/L RS, TA 8.2 g/L and pH 3.0. Certified BioGro organic. 18.0+/20 Dec 2017 RRP $25.00
Urlar Gladstone Pinot Gris 2016
Bright, even straw-yellow colour with pale gold hues. The nose is elegant in proportion with moderately deep aromas of white and yellow stonefruits and a subtle amalgam of white florals, nutty elements and minerals. The aromatics are soft in expression and show delicacy and detail. Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate has good depth and intensity of white and yellow stonefruits, white florals, nutty notes and a little toasty oak. The fruit forms a well-concentrated core with good intensity and presence.. The mouthfeel is rounded and smooth with some underlying alcohol drive. The wine carries to a long, lingering finish of stonefruits, nuts and hints of oak. This is a well-proportioned dry Pinot Gris with deep flavours of white and yellow stonefruits, nuts and oak, with plenty of mouthfeel and presence, and alcohol drive. Match with most white meat dishes over the next 4+ years. Hand-picked fruit, WBP, and fully barrel-fermented in seasoned French oak to 13.5% alc. and dryness, the wine aged 10 months on lees with batonnage and 30% MLF. BioGro organic. 18.5/20 Dec 2017 RRP $29.00
Urlar Gladstone Pinot Noir 2016
Moderately deep ruby-red colour with slight purple hues on the rim, lighter edged. The nose is elegantly concentrated with good depth of dark-red cherry and berry fruit entwined with subtle notes of fresh and dark herbs, some savoury whole bunch stalk nuances, and lifted florals. This has interest and detail. Medium-bodied, the palate has bright and vibrant fruit flavours of dark-red cherry and berry fruit entwined with an amalgam of dark herbs, hints of whole bunch stalk and lifted florals, along with nutty and mineral nuances. The palate possesses richness and sweetness, balanced by fine-grained tannin extraction, and fresh lacy acidity lending energy and vitality. The flavours carry to an elegant and refreshing finish. This is a bright and vibrant, dark-red cherry and berry fruited Pinot Noir with herb, stalk and floral notes with some oak, on a fine-textured, poised palate. Serve with poultry and pork dishes over the next 6 years. Hand-picked fruit predominantly indigenous yeast fermented with approx. 10% whole bunches to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 33% new French oak barriques. Certified BioGro organic. 18.0+/20 Dec 2017 RRP $45.00
Urlar ‘Select Parcels’ Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Bright straw-yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the rim. This has an elegant and slender nose with finely concentrated and softly presented aromas of green stonefruits, gooseberries, fresh herbs and subtle nutty nuances. The aromatics build in intensity with aeration to show depth and presence, unfolding mineral notes. Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate has restrained flavours of green stonefruits and gooseberries, fresh herbs, hints of lanolin and nutty notes. The palate is stylish in presentation with fine textures and balanced, lacy acidity. The wine carries to an elegant, lingering, nuanced finish. This is a stylish oak-influenced Sauvignon Blanc with green stonefruit, gooseberry, herb and nutty flavours on a finely nuanced palate. Match with herb-marinated seafood and poultry dishes over the next 3 years. Select vineyard parcels, given some skin contact and full barrel-fermented in seasoned French oak to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months on less with some batonnage and partial MLF. The wine is a barrel selection. Certified BioGro organic. 18.0/20 Dec 2017 RRP $29.00
Urlar ‘Select Parcels’ Gladstone Pinot Noir 2016
Even ruby-red colour with some depth and slight purple hues, a little lighter edged. The nose is elegantly concentrated with aromas of dark red cherry and raspberry fruit with a fine core showing subtle dark herbs and dark-red florals, with spicy oak suggestions. This has fragrance and delicacy. Medium-bodied, the palate has rich and vibrant fruit flavours of dark-red cherry and berry fruit. This is sweet and luscious, unveiling hints of herbs and lifted spicy oak, with red florals. The fruit is underlined by fine-grained tannin structure with balanced acidity. The wine has plenty of energy and a finely concentrated heart and line that carries to an elegant fragrant, sustained finish. This is an elegantly rich and luscious dark cherry and berry-fruited Pinot Noir with subtle herb, spicy and fragrant lifted florals on a fine-textured, balanced palate. Match with pork, lamb and beef dishes over the next 6-8 years. Selected vineyard parcels, hand-picked and indigenous yeast fermented with 25% whole bunches to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 11 months in 70% new French oak barriques. Certified BioGro organic. 18.5+/20 Dec 2017 RRP $66.00
Urlar Gladstone Noble Riesling 2016
Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the rim. This has a fresh nose with aromas of tropical and citrus fruit with exotic floral notes, wild honey and savoury marmalade with musky botrytis nuances. The aromatics show good depth and concentration. Very sweet to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate has a taut core with decadently rich and luscious flavours of ripe tropical fruits, exotic florals, honey, marmalade and musk. Savoury honeycomb hints add interest. The palate has a rounded mouthfeel with fine acid cut lending freshness, and the wine flows along a soft, smooth line, leading to a long finish. This an elegantly decadent Noble Riesling with tropical fruit, florals, honey, marmalade and musk flavours on a fresh, balanced palate. Match with fruit and baked desserts over the next 5+ years. Hand-picked fruit, 90% with botrytis and 10% shrivel, cool-fermented to 11.0% alc. and 119 g/L RS, TA 7.7 g/L and pH 3.25. Certified BioGro organic. (375 ml) 18.5/20 Dec 2017 RRP $33.00
Urlar 2017 Sauvignon Blanc and SP Noble Riesling, and 2016 The Mediator Pinot Noir
I’ve reported on the changes at Urlar in Gladstone in the Wairarapa brought about by the arrival of Carol Bunn taking over the winemaking role from Guy McMaster for the 2016 vintage. The wines have become more fruit focussed, this stylistic change deemed especially beneficial for the market. I certainly thought the new approach yielded very positive results. At the same time, owner Angus Thomson has furthered the journey towards a fuller employment of biodynamic regimes, and no doubt this will add to what he has achieved in his BioGro organic certification. A few months ago, Carol resigned her position to give her the ability to divide her attention between working in the Wairarapa and family interests in Central Otago. Carol handed over the winemaking reins to Jannine Rickards, who is well-regarded for her previous winemaking roles at Julicher, Pegasus Bay and Ata Rangi, in time for the 2018 vintage. I trust that the changes in style instituted by Carol will be continued and further developed by Jannine. Urlar has now released the new 2017 Sauvignon Blanc and Noble Riesling, which is now under the ‘Select Parcels’ tier, these from a challenging harvest, as well as a new secondary label for a 2016 Pinot Noir called ‘The Mediator’. I review these three wines here. www.urlar.co.nz
Urlar Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Bright, even, pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues. The nose is elegantly fragrant in expression with gently pack, fresh aromas of pungent passionfruit along with subtle notes of fresh herbs, snow peas, nettles and a little cut-grass. This is in the cooler spectrum, and unfolds thirst-quenching mineral elements. Medium-bodied, the palate has a firm core of pungent passionfruit entwined with green stonefruits and subtle cool-spectrum notes of snow peas and nettles. The fruit forms a taut and concentrated core and the wine flows along a light phenolic-textured line with lacy acidity lending energy, leading to a light, lingering finish of passionfruit and fragrant herbs. This is an elegant and taut Sauvignon Blanc with a fine core of passionfruit, stonefruit, herb and nettle flavours on a fine-textured, lively palate. Serve as an aperitif and with Pacific Rim fare over the next 2 years. Fruit fermented in stainless-steel with 10% in seasoned oak to 12.5% alc. and 2.2 g/L RS, the wine aged 6 months on lees with batonnage. Certified BioGro organic. 17.5/20 Mar 2018 RRP $25.00
The Mediator by Urlar Gladstone Pinot Noir 2016
Light ruby-red colour with some depth and pale purple hues on the edge. The nose is softly full and gently voluminous with moderate depth of dark-red cherry and berry fruit entwined with a subtle amalgam of nutty oak, dark herbs and suggestions of whole bunch stalk perfumes, unfolding nuances of red florals. Medium-bodied the fruit flavours of dark-red cherry and berry fruit are light and entwined with subtle spice notes, hints of liquorice, dark herbs and floral elements. The flavours are up-front and uncomplicated and flow smoothly, underlined by light, fine-grained tannins and integrated acidity. The flavours recede a little as the wine carries to a light, easy finish. This is an elegant dark-red cherry and berry fruited Pinot Noir with soft notes of spice and herbs on a smooth, supple, easy palate. Serve with antipasto, tapas, pasta, duck and pork over the next 3+ years. A barrel selection wine. Hand-picked fruit fermented with 10% whole bunches to 13.0% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 20% new oak. Ceritied BioGro organic. 17.0/20 Mar 2018 RRP $32.99
Urlar ‘Select Parcels’ Gladstone Noble Riesling 2017
Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is soft and full with gently concentrated and rounded aromas of ripe tropical fruits, exotic florals, honey and marmalade along with a musky overlay, unfolding caramel elements. This is expressed with a degree of aromatic finesse and elegance. Very sweet to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has a softly packed and rounded heart of opulent and decadent tropical fruit, along with notes of wild honey, marmalade and musk, unveiling some caramel elements. The mouthfeel is lively and vigorous, and richness and unctuousness, and the wine flows along a smooth line supported by subtle, underlying acidity. The flavours carry positively to a long and sustained finish of honey, caramel and musk. This is a rich and unctuous Noble Riesling with ripe tropical fruit, honey, marmalade and musk flavours with good palate energy and vigour. Match with fruit desserts and crème caramel over the next 4+ years. Hand-picked fruit with approx. 75% botrytis infection, fermented to 11.3% alc. and 131 g/L RS, TA 8.2 g/L and pH 3.6, the wine aged 6 months in seasoned oak. (375 ml) 18.0+/20 Mar 2018 RRP $32.00