Brown lime, pear juice and apple blossom fill the initial aromatics with a second wave of mandarin blossom, lemon sherbet, grapefruit and a hint of gardenia. There is underlying wet river stones and the faintest waft of petrichor. Lavender and lemon thyme complete the bouquet garni festoon.
The entry is all lime and grapefruit sprinkled with apple granita, some rose petal and lavender carry over. Juicy yet silky piquancy with a gentle phenolic core wrapped in a cloak of slippery sweetness against an equal quotient of tensile acidity. Hints of lemonade ice block and ruby grapefruit complete the long glossy finish.
With lockdowns fading into history, we were back on the plane to Central Otago on a more regular basis from March 22 onward, just in time for harvest.
The growing season was generally kind with mild temperatures and rainfall spread throughout the calendar. There were a couple of cold nights in November with light frost but nothing to get too nervous about. December and January were warm with flowering and fruit set obliging to bring us back to better potential yields than 2020 and 2021. February cooled off a little before March delivered stellar growing conditions setting up a very good harvest, with ample yields and excellent natural grape chemistry. A couple of rain days through April took the dry March stress off the vineyards and ensured a well spaced harvest with a great spread of ripening dates across the Central Otago sub regions. In all a very seamless and potentially classic harvest.
The 2018 vintage will be remembered for the heat and veracity of the summer and the way it tested our winemaking acumen. Key Phenological dates shook the foundations of what we expect with grape growing in Central Otago and how we deal with extremes. Were it not for the cooler February we may well have picked earlier that we did. Challenging conditions call for careful thought and considered actions, with cool heads prevailing some wines of exceptional depth and concentration have resulted. These wines are abundant and full of volume with texture and length.
Food Pairing Notes
Food – Pork Rillettes pre-lunch or a rich and spicy Laksa in the evening will do it.
After something of a hiatus with Riesling it is great to return with a classic incarnation from the Vandermark Vineyard. This block sits high up on the upper terraces of Bendigo sub region of Central Otago. Given the 45° south latitude, halfway to the South Pole, elevation becomes a key driver of viticultural suitability and at 400m this vineyard is pushing the limits. The dry finish to the 22 harvest season ensured excellent ripening conditions with a long gentle wag in the tail giving great opportunity for flavour to build.
As we like to do, we stopped the fermentation with a little residual sweetness remaining to balance the endemic acidity we have come to expect in Central Otago. The result is a delicate dance between acid and sweetness which blurs the lines of dryness but creates a unique line of silky sumptuousness.