Top drops under $20 (and over) and wine news from Joelle Thomson

Category: Riesling (page 1 of 4)

Top drop over $20 (only just)… The Boneline Riesling

This is Riesling as it should be…

2014 The Boneline Hellblock Riesling $21.50

This great white comes from the country’s top Riesling region – North Canterbury – and is made by a winemaker from even further south; Jeff Sinnott, who understands Riesling better than the back of his hand. It’s a succulent, decadent, delicious wine with refreshing high acidity balanced beautifully by the intense ripe orange and peach flavours – a wine that shines a new light on Riesling, thanks to North Canterbury’s climate and top winemaking.

It’s also open this Saturday in Wellington at Regional Wines & Spirits from 1pm to 5pm… at the store’s free weekly tasting. Come along.

A very humbling vineyard… Mt Ed’s Morrison

It’s not everyday you hear a winemaker talk openly about having their hopes and dreams smashed by an expert who sees their vineyard in an entirely different light to them. But, like most winemakers,  Duncan Forsyth is well used to adapting to his environment.

Not least because that environment is the world’s southernmost wine region. Frosts are standard fare at certain times of the year and the region is heavily reliant on one grape – Pinot Noir, which may be relatively early ripening, but is also thin skinned and has all the jazz and drama that goes along with anything or anyone who is thin skinned. Still, Duncan put great personal investment into the small Morrison Vineyard when he planted it entirely in Pinot Noir.

So you can imagine his surprise when the French agronomist engineer Claude Bourguignon stood on this favoured vineyard and said that “One day you will possibly make great white wine from this site.”

It was the last thing that Duncan expected to hear from Bourgignon’s lips. He and others in the region had pooled their resources to bring the French soil analyst to their region to help accentuate their chosen leading grape – not to diminish its importance by coming out of left field. But Duncan is a man who listens and he has since replanted parts of the small Morrison Vineyard in Lowburn with white grape varieties. He also retains Pinot Noir on the vineyard and it is consistently the pinnacle of his Pinots, but then again, the Riesling from this site is an outstanding wine with the potential to age for at least a decade. It’s a dry style with the same hallmark of the Morrison Vineyard as the Pinot Noir – a firmness on the finish of each sip, says Duncan.

I obviously need to taste a lot more of these wines (there are worst tasks) to pinpoint that characteristic in a blind tasting, but I can see his point. And I plan to get better acquainted with these wines because they consistently shine, for me, in both blind and non-blind tastings.

Duncan has also launched a new brand into New Zealand this week – it’s called Ted. And it includes a rose, a Pinot Blanc and  Pinot Noir. This range is mostly destined to bars, cafes and restaurants. Check out the wines.

Taste these Mount Edward wines…


2014 Mount Edward Morrison Vineyard Pinot Noir  

Arock star of a wine; picked earlier than in the past by two or three weeks to retain acidity, which drives the core of the dark cherry flavours in this intensely concentrated Pinot Noir. Whole bunch fermentation is big in this wine but it’s nicely integrated so that the flavours are fruit and savoury with a fresh, intense grip on the finish. It is certified organic with Bio-Gro New Zealand.


2017 Ted by Mount Edward Rose 

Light in colour, high in acid, very fresh and very youthful with a dry fruity style.


2016 Mount Edward Rose

Less fruit driven and more textural – a little more lees time adds weight and interesting texture to this wine.


2016 Ted Pinot Blanc

Lovely dry white, nice lees work adds texture to this wine’s refreshing citrusy flavours. It’s one of only three Otago Pinot Blancs.


2015 Mount Edward Morrison Riesling 12%

Extremely tasty; extremely low pH means this southern white will age superbly for the long haul (up to and probably beyond a decade) but it also drinks nicely now, thanks to notes of lime, lemon grass and green apples. But I’d keep it… cellar for at least two to three years.

And then there’s the orange wine – 2015 Mount Edward Clockwork Orange, which is a blend of Pinot Gris and Riesling blend; 8 months on skins and another year in barrel and then the trick, says Duncan, is at least another year of bottle aging. There are some nice floral aromatics in here; pretty and textural.



The Mount Edward Gamay is also a star, but made in tiny quantities. 

Blast from the past… buy wine from Peg’ Bay and Dog Point’s cellars

One of the most frequently asked wine questions is this: Can I cellar this wine and what will it taste like in 10 years’ time?

This month two New Zealand wineries have put their money where their mouths are and opened up their cellars for the public to buy 10 year old wines.

Pegasus Bay in North Canterbury and Dog Point Vineyards in Marlborough have done the cellaring for us so that we can taste well cellared wines and track the progress of flavour over a decade. It’s an interesting – and tasty – concept.

Lest this sound like a marketing ploy, the wineries in question have chosen one of the best vintages of the past decade and are not flogging off second tier wines, but their flagships. And they’re damned good too, as I have been finding out while tasting samples.

Both wineries make maverick styles of wines at prices people can afford and – for those of us who personally know the makers – they also have a deep love of the great wines of the world, which inspire their styles.

Why keep it

Now that wine is New Zealand’s fifth biggest export earner (and rising), it’s only natural that we would, could and, perhaps, should start keeping some of the best bottles made here. Not everything has to be consumed right now. It’s fun, decadent and delicious to have a small wine cellar. My own dwindled a tad when I relocated from Auckland to Wellington 18 months back because I was trying to rationalise everything I owned, so I shared, drank, swapped and gave away many old bottles. But it’s growing again and these two wineries have a growing place in it because I know their wines can age reliably well – and taste even better five or 10 years down the track.

It’s been great to retaste Dog Point Section 94, Dog Point Chardonnay, Dog Point Pinot Noir, Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir and Pegasus Bay Riesling (all from 2007), but it’s far from the first time I have tried and enjoyed old wines from these two producers.

If you want a wine cellar…

By the way, if you want to cellar wine, then the team at White Refrigeration makes custom-built cellars and consultations are free. If you can convert that unused wardrobe, spot under the stairs or spare space into a wine cellar, why not?

The cellar wines available

2007 Dog Point Vineyard Pinot Noir

2007 Dog Point Chardonnay

2007 Dog Point Section 94

2007 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Aged Release

2007 Pegasus Bay Riesling Aged Release

My top picks

2007 Dog Point Section 94

The 2007 Dog Point Section 94 shows Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in a bright new light – it’s 10 years old and incredibly fresh, no doubt the high acidity preserves it, as do the dialled up flavours and long finish. Here’s a succulent and complex Sauvignon that says more about the place than the grapes grown there, which were 100% barrel fermented, which adds beautiful bells and whistles to this Sauvignon.

2007 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Aged Release

It’s a delicious treat to revisit this North Canterbury Pinot Noir’s silky, fresh and complex flavours – every sip taste of black cherries on speed and the zesty acidity (which is Pinot’s hallmark) makes every mouthful linger. It drinks well now and still has many years up its lovely sleeve yet.

How to get them

Dog Point Vineyards… is selling cellared wines now in 6-packs through the Dog Point Vineyard Library Wine Club. Membership is free and includes information and preview offers.

More information at

Pegasus Bay Wines… is selling cellared wines from August via three different channels – at the winery cellar door, via mail order and at some specialist wine stores.

More information at



Cellaring wine

If you’re going to drink old wines now, then it only stands to reason that new ones should go straight into the cellar… or under the stairs, if that’s the place you store tasty treats. Try stashing these for 5 or 10 years.

2015 Pegasus Bay Riesling 12.5% ABV

This is the brand new outrageously good Riesling from New Zealand’s king of spatlese styles – Mat Donaldson, winemaker and eldest son of the Peg’ Bay winemaking dynasty in North Canterbury. Mat is a man on a mission to progressively produce Rieslings that taste ever so slightly drier in style and this is an elegant step in that direction. Concentrated lemon zest, ripe mandarins and fresh peach all combine in this great new wine. (And yes, it is Mat – with one ‘t’.)

2016 Palliser Estate Riesling Martinborough 12% ABV

Dry, deliciously lemony with zingy freshness to burn. If you like this wine now, check it out in 5, 10, or 15 years, depending on your willpower. I have regularly enjoyed many Palliser Estate Rieslings up to 15 years old and been consistently impressed by its freshness and intense flavours.

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