Wine Reviews 2016


Raymond Chan Reviews Urlar Wine

Monday, August 22nd, 2016


2015 Sauvignon Blanc and Noble Riesling & 2014 Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir

Established in 2004, Angus and Davina Thomson’s Urlar wine venture is already one of the leading producers in Gladstone and the wider Wairarapa region. The Thomsons approached making wine with organics as a base philosophy, and over the years as they worked towards certification, they have experienced, as with all vineyards in transition, variation in the fruit and the resulting wines. The Thomsons along with long-serving winemaker Guy McMaster have weathered these differences to produce creditable, high quality wines that are sophisticated and textural.

Urlar gained BioGro organic certification in 2010, but it is only now that Angus believes the plants and the 31 ha vineyard are coming into balance. Earlier this year, experienced winemaker Carol Bunn took over the winemaking duties from McMaster, and it will be interesting to see her input in the wines. In discussing styles with her and Angus, I suspect we will see a little more fruit richness come through, while retaining the textural complexities. Some of this will no doubt be a result of the maturing vineyard and vines. Here, I review the latest Urlar releases, the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and Noble Riesling, and 2014 Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, these wines made by Guy McMaster.

Urlar Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - 4 Stars

Bright, very pale straw colour with slight green hues, near colourless on the rim. The nose is light, clean and pristine with aroma of gooseberries and green stonefruits along with subtle white floral notes, revealing suggestions of nuts and minerals. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the fruit flavour of gooseberries, green stonefruits, fresh herbs and florals are reserved in expression.  Nutty and chalky mineral nuances unfold lending interest.  The palate has good body and presence with fine-grained, chalky textures and underlying brisk acidity providing a thirst-quenching mouthfeel. The wine carries with good linearity to a fine, dry-textured, lingering finish of gooseberries. This is a light and restrained Sauvignon Blanc with gooseberry fruit, a fresh mouthfeel with good presence and subtle chalky textures.  Serve with shellfish, salads and vegetables over the next 2 years. Fruit cool-fermented in stainless-steel with approx. 7% in seasoned oak barrels to 13.5% alc. and 3.2 g/L RS. Certified BioGro organic. 17.5-/20 Aug 2016.

Urlar Gladstone Pinot Gris 2014 - 4 Stars

Bright straw-yellow colour with light golden hues, paler on edge. The nose is very full and densely packed with complex layers of savoury yellow stonefruits and nutty oak and minerally lees elements. The aromatics grow in concentration and intensity with aeration. Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate features fulsome and broad flavours that are solidly presented with considerable depth, showing a complex layering of savoury yellow stonefruits melded with nuts, smoke and minerals. There is richness present, and this is balanced by fine textures lending a light grip.  Underlying lacy energy contributes drive and carries the wine to a lingering, complex, savoury finish. This is a full and densely packed, complex layered dry Pinot Gris with savoury stonefruit and nutty flavours. Match with poultry, pork and veal over the next 3-4 years.  Fruit WBP and fully barrel-fermented in seasoned French oak to 14.0% alc. and 1.5 g/L RS, the wine aged 12 months in barrel on lees with batonnage and 100% MLF. Certified BioGro organic.  18.0/20 Aug 2016.

Urlar Gladstone Pinot Noir 2014 - 4 Stars

Moderately dark, deep, garnet-red colour, lighter on the rim. The nose is full and voluminous with harmoniously interwoven, complex aromas of savoury red berry fruits, dried herbs, whole cluster stalk elements and secondary earthy nuances that build in depth and intensity in the glass.  Medium-full bodied, the palate is soft and gently layered with complex flavours of savoury dark-red berry fruits melded with dark and dried herbs, undergrowth and stalk suggestions, earth and cedar. The fruit has sweetness and lusciousness and is supported by fine, grainy tannin extraction and structure, forming a concentrated core. The acidity is integrated, lending soft energy and linearity, and the wine leads to a long, lingering, lively finish with an array of savoury complexities.  This is a complex flavoured and layered Pinot Noir with savoury red fruits, undergrowth and earth, with a well-structured core. Match with casseroles and slow-cooked game dishes over the next 5 years. Hand-picked fruit, clones 5, 115, 667, 777 and 114, indigenous yeast fermented with 15% whole clusters to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barriques. Certified BioGro organic. 18.0+/20 Aug 2016.

Urlar Gladstone Noble Riesling 2015 - 5 Stars

Full, even, light golden yellow colour, a little pale on rim. This has a very full, broad and rounded nose with concentrated aromas of lime marmalade, honey, exotic florals and tropical fruits, nectar and musk. Very sweet to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate is rich and unctuous with flavours of aromatic lime marmalade, honey and nectar, musk and talc. The fruit richness and sweetness lend a rounded mouthfeel and form a deep core, but is balanced by fresh, lacy acidity.  This has good linear flow and the palate carries to a lusciously soft, exotic, lingering finish with citrus, honey and musk flavours. This is a rich and unctuous Noble Riesling with exotic marmalade, honey and musk flavours balanced by fine, fresh acidity. Match with fruit and baked desserts, and crème caramel over the next 4-5 years. Hand-picked fruit, fully botrytised, given overnight skin contact and tank-fermented to 12.0% alc. and 126 g/L RS, TA 9.4 g/L and pH 3.3, the wine aged on lees. Certified BioGro organic. (375 ml) 18.5/20 Aug 2016.


Peter Saunders Review – August 2016

Monday, September 5th, 2016


Urlar Gladstone Pinot Gris 2014 97/100

Gold medal level Pinot Gris to this commentator. Oak matured, boldly fruited, balanced and tasty, a credit to the Gladstone sub-region of Wairarapa. A delicious dry white to suit a range of food styles from light to medium. Ready, without rush, into 2020.

Urlar Gladstone Pinot Noir 2014 91/100

Certified organic. Very inviting aromatics, clean, and alive. Subtle Pinot palate, tasty and suited to red meat or spicy food. Ready from now on, into 2018.

Urlar Gladstone Noble Riesling 2015 (375ml bottle) 93/100

Tastes as a ripe, late-pick style with a hint of botrytis. Clean, alive wine, 12% alcohol, delicious with the right food courses, perhaps melon and prosciutto. Tidy wine in fine condition, no hurry through 2018.

Urlar Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2015 91/100

Certified organic.  Partly oak fermented. Tasty wine, perhaps a unique style for Gladstone sub-region (of Wairarapa) yet carries the Sauvignon tone New Zealand is known for. Balanced, near perfect mouth-feel. A fine wine for poultry and fish courses. No hurry through 2017.

Matt Calder