TOP OF THE TASTING
1 Riverby Estate Marlborough Noble Riesling 2016 ($35)
Gold Medal Kevin Courtney of Riverby Estate has the Midas touch when it comes to creating gorgeous sweet wines. Every vintage of this noble riesling has won gold medals here and abroad. “I love the pretty pale bronze colour, the classic toffee and caramelised apple skin characters and its sweet, yet concentrated and refreshing palate,” said Yvonne. James also noted its "lovely, glossy golden colour, richness and vibrancy with a creamy, beeswax finish”. It showed outstanding balance above all; intense in its sweetness, yet with the acidity en pointe, this wine danced across the tongue and leapt ahead of the competition.
2 Nevis Bluff Selection de Grains Nobles Central Otago Pinot Gris 2015 ($35)
Gold Medal Our judges were wowed by the lifted, candied fruit characters in this wine and its luscious acid line. “Very fresh and delicate,” noted James. Jane loved its candied pear and lifted fruit notes and its textural appeal. “The aromas of lanolin, white pepper, baked
apples and complex, concentrated musky tones are gorgeous,” said Yvonne.
3 Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Noble Riesling 2016 ($36.99) Gold Medal
If you’re looking for a sweet treat that has lifted and intense mandarin and toffee apple flavours with amazing, zesty textures on the finish, you’ve come to the right cul-de-sac says Yvonne. “It’s gorgeous”. Jane and James agreed, detailing marmalade and attractive ginger, stonefruit and spice, lovely acidity and impressive weight and depth of flavour.
4 Torlesse Canterbury Cassis Liqueur NV ($20.99)
Just the look of this liqueur had our judges reaching for the superlatives. “Exceptional colour!” said Jane. “It speaks so definitively of blackcurrants; such pure cassis!” That purity also wowed James: “Cleanly fruited, enticing and a lovely experience.” For Yvonne, the intense purity of flavour, berries, blackcurrant and peppercorn made it pretty much perfect.
5 Tupari Wines Awatere Valley Late Harvest Riesling 2017 ($34)
“This is a lovely, juicy, refreshing late harvest style,” noted James. “It's nicely proportioned, with lifted muscat notes, and beautifully presented, balanced and joyous to drink.” Jane was seduced by the peach blossom aromatics and its delicate, fine lines, while Yvonne felt there were also excellent citrus and apple notes upfront.
6 Forrest Wines Marlborough Botrytised Riesling 2017 ($30)
If there’s one thing the Forrest team know how to do, it’s produce exceptional riesling. “It’s incredibly juicy and fresh and while intensely sweet, it’s beautifully balanced,” said Yvonne. Jane found it reminiscent of Roxdale apricots and marmalade, and James felt it showed impressive acidity, weight and richness.
7 Wither Hills Cellar Collection Noble Gewürztraminer 2016 ($35)
Dessert gewürz is a rare thing, so our judges were thrilled to see one at gold medal level. “Beautifully balanced, refined and showing awesome aromatics,” said James. “The texture is lovely and weighty.” Jane enjoyed its bright, acid lines and purity of flavour. “It has bright, vibrant, Turkish delight notes; it’s very subtle, very moreish.”
8 Auntsfield Busch Block Marlborough Late Harvest Riesling 2016 ($39)
Bright and sparkly in the glass, with attractive caramelised citrus, this wine was “gorgeous with lovely, pure fruit, lifted florals and deep, stonefruit notes – ethereal,” declared Jane. James agreed, saying it was a clean, pretty wine, well-handled and presented, and very very nice.
9 Awatere River Wine Co. Awatere River by Louis Vavasour Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2014 ($59.99)
Silver Medal This example of late-harvest gewürztraminer is delightful, according to Yvonne. “I love the musky, ginger and luscious lychee layers.” Jane added, "It’s very bright, vibrant, slightly buttery and has lovely concentration, purity and texture."
10 Leveret Estate Reserve Hawke’s Bay Late Harvest Viognier 2016 ($29.90)
Dessert viognier is also uncommon in New Zealand, so our judges were excited to come across one so beautifully made. “With dried apricots and jasmine notes, it’s an incredibly luscious, dense and caramelised example,” noted Yvonne. Jane liked the botrytis influence, apricot kernel characters and that it was very seductive and concentrated.
11 Osawa Wines Hawke’s Bay Noble Gewürztraminer 2016 ($30)
This little cracker from the terraces overlooking the Ngaruroro River has delicious delicacy, freshness and purity said James, while Jane found impressive mandarin, rose petal and fruit friskiness, Yvonne loved the musky, ginger-spiced aromatics and sexy citrus-forward flavours.
12 Torlesse Canterbury 10 Year Old Tawny ($35)
Kym Rayner is incredibly good at crafting sensationally focused, fortified wines from his tiny winery in Waipara. “Awesome leather, soy and savoury notes surround dried fruits and nutty notes in this warm, smooth port,” said Yvonne. James loved the nutty, raisined characters and its lovely length of flavour.