Wine Reviews 2010


New Zealand Listener

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Urlar Pinot Noir 2008 -  5 Stars given by Michael Cooper. He wrote “This richly scented, deeply coloured red is flourishing with bottle age, unfolding cherry, plum and spice flavours; it possesses lovely vibrancy, concentration and complexity. Good value at $35.”

Urlar Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – 4.5 Stars given by Michael Cooper. He wrote “Racy, fully dry style with mouthfilling body and punchy, ripely herbal flavours, fresh, finely balanced and long. $22.”  


White Wine of the Week Decanter Magazine UK

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Urlar Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – “You get what you expect here, but that classic gooseberry fruit is relatively restrained, complemented by pleasing, herbaceous lime flavours, plus a squeeze of passion fruit.”


Organic and Biodynamic Wine and Beef

Lauraine Jacobs, Food and Wine Writer, Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

The following was written by Lauraine Jacobs and can be found on her Blog:

Every so often something comes along that completely knocks your socks off. While on tour with my co-authors to promote and celebrate the launch of The New Zealand Vegetable Cookbook we attended a very fine organic/biodynamic dinner at Bar Saluté in Greytown in the Wairarapa. We suspected the food would be wonderful, as I have been a fan of Travis Clive Griffin’s cooking for as long as I have known him. It was superb; from the starter of local Kingsmeade haloumi with tiny pink fir potatoes and roasted chestnut tabouleh with Lot 8 olive oil through the pork rillettes, a ravioli of oxtail and beef shin, Urlar highland beef, pithiviere of boeuf bourguignon and a poached pear bavarois with honey and cardamom ice cream to finish with a stunning Urlar Late Harvest Riesling, it was all superb. And a gin and tonic sorbet thrown in for good measure, made with local gin. Everything grown locally and organically – a real triumph.

But I was not expecting the wine. I had not heard of Urlar and as it was billed as ‘an organic and biodynamic local wine’ I had an image of a couple of bottles of rough but honest plonk. How wrong! Urlar is as sophisticated and delicious as it could possibly be. The stunning labels, the flavours and aromas of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir wines we drank, and the passion of both owner Angus Thomson and winemaker Guy McMaster could not be faulted.

Angus and his family sold up the family farm in the highlands of Scotland and journeyed to Gladstone, Wairarapa where they planted their dream on a farm with stony soils and the cool but predictable climate that the region offers. Their aim was to create a truly sustainable business and bio-dynamic and organic practices are paramount to the family, and to Guy as the winemaker. The wines all exhibit that quality I always seek; bone dry well rounded finish but lots of sweet fruit flavours that make for lovely drinking. Guy manages to get a ton of texture in every glass. I am hard pushed to pick my favourite amongst the whites, as the Sauvignon Blanc was gorgeously smooth and not harsh at all, the Riesling was pure fruit with that slight botrytis nose that suits the grape so well, and the Pinot Gris had lovely texture and a very interesting touch of spice on the nose. Two vintages of Pinot Noir showed why these wines really will be taken seriously for the luscious flavours, slight pepperiness and a dark broody intensity really impressed. Urlar wines are well worth seeking out and probably easier to find now that Negociants are distributing this classy, chic range.

And as for that dinner, the beef and pork were grown on the Urlar farm too. That’s probably a first; a meal with food and wine matches sourced from the same property!


Northern Wairarapa Tasting

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

John Saker, one of New Zealand’s famous wine writers & author of “Pinot Noir – The New Zealand Story” visited the Northern Wairarapa in October to taste the region’s wines. Here’s what he said about Urlar:

Urlar Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Guava, stonefruit, mirabelle… round, showing some dev, good acidity, wildflower, minerally. Good food style. 17

Urlar Pinot Gris 2009

Interesting, has backbone and length. Slight herbal seam, sl high alc. But an attractive, driving, energetic style. 17

Urlar Pinot Noir 2009

Shy nose, Palate is forward and energetic, red & dark fruit, good depth, awkward texture, but good length 17+

Urlar Noble Riesling 2009

Lovely perfume… apricot, honey… superb palate… great acids and length… beaut 18+


Viva Magazine

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Helen Masters, Winemaker at Ata Rangi, Martinborough is a fan of Urlar. She says:

…”I’m a fan of New Zealand wines too.  Locally there are some great producers, such as Urlar for delicious riesling and pinot noir;Nga Waka riesling, which they release with four to five years-age and is a steal; Kusuda syrah is delicious and I would never pass up a Dry River gewurztraminer.”


Jamie Goode drinks Urlar Pinot Noir at Hakkasan

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Here’s what Jamie Goode says about Urlar’s 2008 Pinot Noir at Hakkasan, London’s  famed Chinese/fusiony restaurant; Urlar Pinot Noir 2008 Gladstone, Wairarapa, New Zealand

“This is a delicious young, full bodied Pinot Noir with reach, meaty, spicy dark cherry and plum fruit. Lots of presence and admirable freshness with cherries, plums and spice on the palate. 91/100″

Click on this link to see the original article:


Raymond Chan Current Release Reviews

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

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.


Harpers Wine & Spirit Magazine

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Here’s what some wine and food critics are saying about Urlar’s 2008 Pinot Noir. Urlar Pinot Noir 2008 – Paired with Shitake, enoki and shimeji mushrooms mixed together, wrapped in cheung fun pastry and steamed.

“Mushrooms are well understood to be a great friend of Pinot Noir,” explained Parkinson, who went on to describe the wine as “very capable”.  “It has purity of fruit and a delicious texture but it’s also got leathery, savoury notes and some minerality,” she said.  Barden favoured its “intoxicating nose” and Rousset summed up the wine as “very elegant”.  Chaniac pinpointed Urlar as one of his favourite matches, with “animal as well as leather notes, which worked very well with the dish, especially with the mushrooms”.  “The very upfront sweetness also worked well,” he said.

Harpers Wine & Spirit Magazine 22 October 2010.


Urlar Pinot Noir 2009 Hospitality Magazine

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Wine writer Cameron Douglas includes an Urlar Vineyard Profile in the December edition of the Hospitality Magazine. See link Thirst10Dec-Urlar.

Cameron also has the following to say about the Urlar Pinot Noir 2009:

“Nose:  A lovely expression of pinot – an iron fist in a velvet glove springs to mind – generous and ripe fruits with both dark and light cherry then a surge of youthful oak and florals followed by whispers of herb.  There is also a terrior note with a ripe soil and mineral aroma.

Palate:  Dry, tight and youthful, a wine to follow and watch mature over the next few years.  The flavours reflect the nose with weighted generosity on the palate and a focus on the fruit flavours mid palate, dusty yet to integrate tannins and quite a long finish.”

Matt Calder