Dry River took its simple but evocative name from an historic sheep station that used to exist a few kilometres away on the dry, wandering river plains between Martinborough and lake Wairarapa. Planted by the visionary Neil and Dawn McCallum in 1979 - a good few years ahead of ‘old hand’ Alan Limmer in Gimblett Gravels - Dry River were not only ahead of the curve but can these days speak meaningfully about the old vine presence and impact on the estate’s production. With an approach and culture that feels quite European, Dry River are interested in sustainability and minimal intervention - especially in the winery - but always with a reasoned eye for what is pragmatic and particular to their terroir. Eschewing the Kiwi obsession with varietal flavour-making and wines to drink now, Dry River focus their impressive resources on the simple but complex task of producing and preserving true physiological ripeness, in this way making wines of extreme quality and balance that are often approachable young but reach their true expression after some years in cellar.
What The Critics Say
Winemaker notes on 2016 vintage
"A formidable straw golden, light yellow colour introduces this wine. I have to go back to the 2009 when the wine expressed a similar soft and creamy nose, layered with almond nougat, ripe pineapple and golden kiwi fruit. The wine is kept opulent and energetic with hints of freshly crushed thyme and lemon rind. Extended time on lees, 15 months, helped to develop brioche and crème caramel like characters with added texture and weight. A softly coated acidity allows the wine to move over the palate in a gentle matter, deceptively masking the linear and postured nature due to interaction with other textural components. The scope and depth of flavour effortlessly captivates interest by initially showcasing almond croissant, Beurre Bosc pears and barely noticeable toast, presumably from the oak barrels. Since little Malo-lactic acid conversion happens with this wine a lemon sorbet character allows for a long finish. Enjoy this wine after two to five years for optimal drinking pleasure."
95/100 Bob Campbell MW (2015 vintage)
"Youthful chardonnay with mineral, citrus, tree fruit and apricot flavours together with hazelnut, brioche and bran biscuit characters. Still rather closed but showing potential to develop well with bottle age. Thought I’d detected a trace of woody cork character but a second bottle showed identical nuances, which appears to be oak rather than cork influence. 20/11/2016"
18.5/20 Raymond Chan (2015 vintage)
"Bright, light golden-yellow colour with some depth, lighter on the edge. The nose is very soft and gently voluminous with aromas of white and yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit, along with creamy, nutty barrel-ferment notes that build in intensity, revealing mealy and smoky complexities from the finely concentrated core. Medium-bodied, the palate is rounded in concentration with flavours of ripe yellow stonefruits and citrus fruit harmoniously melded creamy, mealy and nutty oak layers. The mouthfeel is soft and the wine quite accessible, underlined by very smooth textures, and background lacy acidity. The concentrated flavours are carried positively to a lingering, dry-textured finish with subtly rich stonefruit and nutty nuances. Match with poultry and pork over the next 4-5 years. Fruit from the ‘Craighall’ and ‘Dry River’ sites, predominantly indigenous yeast, and fully barrel-fermented to 12.8% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 15% large format French oak, with light batonnage, avoiding MLF. 18.5+/20 Nov 2016 RRP $55.00" Drink
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