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 current 2017 vintage
"In my opinion Chardonnay responds well to years with lower sunshine hours, as previously experienced in 2012. I believe the typical Chardonnay characters we expect to see are conserved and the acidity retains its influence over shape and structure. We picked both our Dry River Estate and Craighall vineyards in close succession, where normally we would have approximately one week between the two, with a very exciting result. A melee of roasted Chestnuts, chalk and floral notes, are supplemented with biscotti, custard, peach and nectarine. Fresh lime sorbet and lemon blossom lift the aromatics to keep the nose playful. Thanks to a small proportion of Malo-Lactic conversion, the palate is evenly spread and transparent and gains some additional mouthfeel. With neither component dominant, the aromatic richness is effortlessly suppressed by either oak or the character stemming from extended maturation on lees. The focus is therefore multifaceted, shifting between acidity, texture and fruit in fast pace. White flesh peach, Braeburn apple and green kiwifruit, happily make way for salivating citrus fruit and silken creamy texture. An energetic back palate lifts the wine and allows for a long lingering finish. Our Chardonnay evolves slowly in the cellar, expect this wine to reach good maturity after three to five years."
95/100 Bob Campbell MW (2016 vintage)
"Elegant and savoury chardonnay with hazelnut, brioche, cashew, grapefruit and spicy oak flavours plus a suggestion of struck flint. A complex, pleasingly dry wine, with a backbone of juicy acidity and fine-grained tannins. Can be appreciated now but it will certainly reward cellaring. 29/1/2018."
18.5+/20 Raymond Chan (2016 vintage)
"Bright, light golden-hued straw-yellow colour, lighter on the edge. The nose is soft and gently voluminous with layered aromas of white and yellow stonefruits harmoniously melded with layers of subtle creamy barrel-ferment with nutty lees and oak notes. The aromatics gently build in depth with aeration. Medium-full bodied, the palate is firmly concentrated flavours of white and yellow stonefruits integrated with creamy barrel-ferment, nutty lees and oak elements. The mouthfeel is rounded but balanced by fresh, lacy acidity that enlivens the flavours, providing good linearity. The wine carries to a long, lingering, nuanced finish. Match with seafood, poultry and pork over the next 5+ years. Mendoza clone fruit from 20 y.o. vines in the ‘Craighall’ vineyard and 30 y.o. vines from the Dry River Estate’, indigenous yeast barrel-fermented to 13.5% alc., the aged 15 months in 15% new French oak barrels with light batonnage, avoiding MLF. 18.5+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $55.00." Drink
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