The year is flying by and we have another vintage under our belt; our 24th as grape growers and 16th with our own label.
While it has been a trying vintage for some, with regular rainfall since early April, we managed to beat the rain and complete the harvest of grapes for our Riverby wines on 4 April when our Pinot Gris was harvested. We had started earlier than usual on 19 March. We are very pleased with the grapes we have taken in; the Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs in particular are looking exceptional.
As I write, we only have our sweet wine grapes still on the vines. These grapes are rotting nicely, as one would expect after the rains. The secret to sweet wines is that the fruit must be nicely ripe before it starts to rot and all of our sweet wine blocks achieved this ripeness. Now we just have to hope for suitable fine weather for the grapes to dry up before we hand-pick them.
As is usual, we finished bottling our previous vintage wines in the weeks before the 2014 harvest started. While these wines are still fresh in the bottle they are already looking very promising. Of the wines just bottled, the 2013 Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sali's Block Riesling and our sweet wines are all looking quite special. 2013 was an exceptional vintage and this is reflected in all of our wines from that vintage. Our 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir is still in barrel and it is looking extremely promising.
We are selective in which wine shows we enter and many of our wines never go to a wine show. Our only wine show so far this year has been the Easter Wine Show, NZ's oldest wine show. From three entries we managed a gold for our 2012 Eliza Riesling, and silvers for our 2011 Chardonnay and a 2013 Gewurztraminer which is under our alternative Cicada label. That meant the Eliza Riesling became the only Riesling to win gold at all three of the major NZ wine shows this season; the NZIWS, AirNZ Wine Awards and now the Easter Wine Show. We are extremely pleased with this result for a wine we made for the very first time. Needless to say there will be a 2013 Eliza as well, which has a hard act to follow.
We are steadily expanding our distribution around the world, with Taiwan the most recent country to be added to our list. This month we are doing tastings in Shanghai and during July we will be having tastings in Hong Kong. From 2-4 June we will be at the London Wine Fair and during June we will be doing several tastings around the UK. So the Riverby brand is gradually spreading far and wide in lots of nice wine shops and fine restaurants.
And later this year we plan to release our very first Rose, but more about that next time.
- December 2013
Well, where to start? Every month or so we seem to have more exciting news to mention. This month is certainly no exception; new distributors, new export markets, great reviews and awards, and new wines.
We are delighted to announce that our wines are now available in Hong Kong. Kobo Wine Ltd, who specialise in New Zealand wines, have taken eight of our wines and they will be available in Hong Kong before Christmas. We are delighted to have such a good importer and to have such a wide range of our wines available in the exciting Hong Kong market.
We are also pleased to announce a very successful outing at the recent Air NZ Wine Awards. From only four entries we came away with golds for the 2012 Eliza Riesling and 2012 Noble Riesling, silver for the 2011 Chardonnay and bronze for the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, which had only been bottled 10 days at judging time. And on top of that the Noble Riesling was judged the Stuff.co.nz Champion Dessert Wine. It continues an amazing run where every sweet wine we have ever released has won a trophy.
Michael Brajkovich MW, the head judge at the Air NZ Awards said "The dessert wine classes this year highlighted some absolute gems, with beautifully ripe concentrated fruit characters. Amazingly complex, the top wines are a rare treat"
In early December we received our latest reviews from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate magazine, the most famous wine publication in the world. Once again the 2012 Noble Riesling starred with 91+, while the 2012 Eliza Riesling scored 90+ and the 2012 dry riesling got 89+. We also received one of the top scores for NZ pinot gris with our 2012, which was very pleasing.
We have also just received our latest reviews from Sam Kim, who is very familiar with our wines having assessed most of them over the years. He is the first, and so far only, reviewer to see our brand-new 2013 Gruner Veltliner which was only bottled on 18 October this year. We are quietly confident that this is a pretty smart wine and we were delighted Sam agreed scoring it 91/100 and calling it "a wonderful expression of the variety".
Sam was also impressed by the 2012 Noble Riesling scoring it 95/100 and saying "every year this label delivers stunning richness and flavours". Our other sweet wine the 2012 Noble Sauvignon Semillon also did well scoring 93/100. Sam was also the first reviewer to see our 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, bottled on 18 October, which scored 94/100. He described this simply as; "this is brilliant".
So "all and all", another pleasing month or two here at Riverby Estate.
- October 2013
It has been another exciting few months for us here at Riverby Estate with several major developments.
We are very pleased to announce that Altavis Fine Wines in Shanghai are now the exclusive distributors of Riverby Estate wines throughout China. The first shipment comprising five of our wines has already arrived in China. Altavis Fine Wines is a specialist wine distribution company with an impressive portfolio of premium wines from around the world. We look forward to working closely with them to build our brand throughout China. The other major item of news concerns our 2012 Eliza Riesling which has just won the trophy for Champion Riesling at the NZ International Wineshow, NZ's biggest Wineshow with over 2,000 entries from 14 countries. At the same show last year we won the trophy for Champion Sweet Wine with our Noble Sauvignon Semillon 2011. We were the only NZ wine company to win trophies two years running. It means we have now won three major trophies in 12 months with three different wines after our Noble Riesling 2011 won Champion NZ Sweet Wine over £15 at the Decanter World Wine Awards earlier this year. The Eliza Riesling, which we made for the first time from the 2012 vintage and which was only released in June this year, has already proven to be a great success. Sam Kim said "This is impossible to dislike. It's one of the most gorgeous, delicious and engaging rieslings I've tasted in the last few years." We tend to agree. We have concluded a long winter of pruning and wrapping of vines and are about to embark on bottling our 2013 wines. In mid October we will be bottling our fifteenth vintage of Sauvignon Blanc and first Gruner Veltliner. It is very easy to think "he would say that, wouldn't he", but both of these wines really do look quite special. We have been making Sauvignon Blanc since 1999 and this 2013 edition follows our 2012 which we think very highly of, but we really could not be happier with this new Sauvignon. The Gruner Veltliner would be exciting anyhow being our first bottling of this variety, but once again we actually think this is a pretty special wine and we look forward to feedback on it over coming months. Our wines can now be found in top class restaurants around the world and the quality of our wines seems to be going from strength to strength, which is amazing really as we often look at our wines and think this is about as good as we can make them; then the following vintage comes along to surprise us again. So we must be doing something right.
- It has been another exciting few months for us here at Riverby Estate with several major developments.
- May 2013
It has been another successful few months here at Riverby Estate, culminating in the announcement this month that our Noble Riesling 2011 has been awarded the trophy for champion NZ sweet wine over £15 at the world's biggest Wineshow, The Decanter World Wine Awards, in London.
Our UK distributors, The Black Dog Wine Agency, entered three of our wines into the Decanter Awards and our 2009 Chardonnay also came away with gold. The Decanter Awards are considered the most important in the world of wine. No NZ winery got more than two golds and we were the only winery to get two golds without one of them being for a Sauvignon Blanc.
It is the first time we have actually entered an international Wineshow, although our 2009 Noble Riesling was judged second best sweet wine in the Southern Hemisphere at the Five Nations Challenge a couple of years ago. On that occasion wines where specifically selected from each country to compete.
It means that every sweet wine we have ever made, whether it be Noble Riesling or Noble Sauvignon Semillon, has won at least one trophy. Certainly a hard act for our 2012 sweet wines to follow.
Also on the accolades front, we had eight of our wines reviewed in the world's most influential wine publication, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, late last year. The fourth year running we have been selected to be reviewed. Significantly our top wine on that occasion was also the Noble Riesling 2011 with 91/100. All of our other wines also did well with the Noble Sauvignon Semillon 2011 receiving 90/100 and our brand-new dry Sauvignon Semillon scoring 90+/100. Our Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Dry Riesling, all from 2011, all scored 89/100.
Our Noble Sauvignon Semillon 2011 was also rated top NZ sweet wine in Winestate Magazine's end of year tasting, and runner up overall in Australasia, the third time we have either won the trophy or been runner up in Winestate over the last four years. The same wine was also second to top wine in the Cuisine Magazine sweet wine tasting just recently. And the Noble Riesling 2011 was top equal sweet wine in Metro magazine's top wines of summer.
We are about to release several new wines, mostly new vintages, but also one brand-new wine. The 2012 vintage produced such exceptional riesling fruit that we decided to do something different and by utilising some of our carefully hand-picked dry riesling fruit and some of the fruit designated for our Noble Riesling we have created what we think is a stunning new style of Riesling, for us anyway, with 63 grams of sugar and only 9.5% alcohol. We have called this wine Eliza to distinguish it from our other three Rieslings. Eliza is a traditional family name for the Matthews family who have farmed Riverby Estate for several generations.
Another exciting development for us was the appointment of a new distributor in Victoria; Britten Wine Merchants. Melbourne has always appealed as an exciting market to be involved in, but it needs the right distributor to make it work. Britten Wine Merchants specialise in NZ wines and we are now delighted to be the Marlborough representative in their portfolio. The Specialist Importers Collective, of which Britten Wine Merchants is a founding member, will be holding a tasting including our wines in Melbourne on 9 July.
We are also going to be part of a couple of special wine dinners being held in London by wine-writer Richard Hemming at The Orange, Pimlico on 17 June and The Canbury Arms, Kingston on 20 June. The two dinners will feature our Noble Sauvignon Semillon 2011, with a specially designed dessert course, and several other NZ wines.
Of course we haven't been just winning trophies and having dinners. We are starting the cycle all over again and have just finished picking our fruit from 2013. At this stage it looks like another stunning vintage. Amongst the highlights is our first significant Gruner Veltliner harvest, which we are very happy with. We hope to see this wine in bottle later in the year. Overall, we are very happy with our fruit from the 2013 harvest and we look forward to seeing the results in bottle over the coming year or two.
- October 2012
The year flies by and so much has been happening, both in the vineyard and with our wines.
After a long winter we eventually finished our pruning, which of necessity is a very precise operation if yields are to be managed well and unnecessary work eliminated later in the season. Now the buds have burst and the vineyard cycle commences again. Thus far we seem to have avoided any frosts and the bud burst on some of the varieties is spectacular to say the least. Chardonnay looks to be the most consistent bud burst we can remember. We are also excited to see our young Gruner Veltliner block looking so promising. Only six months to go and we will be picking grapes again.
We have already bottled our 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and it is already on its way to our markets in Canada and the UK. It should be released in NZ and Australia before the end of the year. Without wanting to pre-empt anything, we suspect at this early stage that it may be our best Sav Blanc yet, and it is our 14th vintage.
Our other 2012 wines waiting in the wings also look very promising; the Rieslings and Chardonnay especially so. Amazing really when we look back on how the 2012 vintage was tracking for most of the year.
Our 2011 wines have had spectacular successes over recent months, highlighted by a trophy for the 2011 Noble Sauvignon Blanc - Semillon at the NZ International Wine Show, where the 2011 Noble Riesling also won gold. It means that we have won trophies for our sweet wines every vintage we have made them and the Nobel Sav/Sem has won a trophy at its first show outing. We managed eight medals at the NZIWS, including silver for our standard Pinot Noir. We enter very few wine shows, but the NZIWS is NZ's biggest and includes wines from all around the world so it provides a good opportunity to benchmark our wines. We have also had some great reviews from the likes of Sam Kim, Bob Campbell, Michael Cooper and Yvonne Lorkin. Some of these are listed on our Accolades page. Most satisfying for us has been the way the compliments are spread across virtually all of our wines, which is great recognition for our vineyard location, viticultural practices and winemaking team.
Bob Campbell described the 2011 Dry Riesling as "terrific riesling" and listed two of our wines in Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine, Yvonne Lorkin included the brand-new Sauvignon/Semillon 2011 and Noble Riesling 2011 as ideal food and wine matches in Dish magazine and Sam Kim very generously rated our Sali's Block Riesling 2011 and Noble Riesling 2011 at 95/100, the Noble Sav/Sem 2011 at 94/100, and the Dry Riesling 2011 and Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 at 93/100. Equally satisfying was this quote from a winemaker in Burgundy: "I'm in Burgundy at the moment and sharing a bottle of your 2011 Noble Sauvignon Blanc Semillon with a bunch of winemakers over dinner. The general consensus is; f@#k me, this is good. A very lovely wine; will be buying more when I get back to the UK." Perhaps inspired by that message we indeed introducing a feedback section to our website as we would love to hear from our customers from around the world. We have also had some very successful wine dinners over the last month in Las Vegas, Sydney and here in NZ at Thames and Tairua. These are a very useful way to connect with our customers and we plan to do more of them.
- The year flies by and so much has been happening, both in the vineyard and with our wines. After a long winter we eventually finished our pruning, which of necessity is a very precise operation if yields are to be managed well and unnecessary work eliminated later in the season. Now the buds have burst and the vineyard cycle commences again. Thus far we seem to have avoided any frosts and the bud burst on some of the varieties is spectacular to say the least. Chardonnay looks to be the most consistent bud burst we can remember. We are also excited to see our young Gruner Veltliner block looking so promising. Only six months to go and we will be picking grapes again.
- July 2012
Now that the grapes from the 2012 vintage have all been picked – eventually – and the wines from 2011 have all been bottled, it is time to reflect on the events of the last few months.
As everyone knows it was a most unusual vintage, although in the end a satisfying one. The common complaint of lower than usual yields didn't really affect us as we always crop ridiculously low anyhow. Also, Sauvignon Blanc in the Rapaura sub region flowered a week to ten days ahead of the rest of Marlborough, when temperatures were above average, thus ensuring reasonable yields and emphasising once again why this has always been considered the premium grape growing sub region.
Some of our other varieties weren't quite so lucky, flowering when temperatures were considerably cooler than usual resulting in reduced yields, but still satisfying quality. We may not even make a Pinot Noir from 2012, however we have the luxury of having ample supplies of possibly the finest Pinot we have made too date from 2010, a vintage so exceptional we choose it to launch our debut Reserve Pinot Noir. We also have both standard and Reserve pinots from 2011 waiting in the wings. Sadly, we won't be making a Syrah from 2012 as we only make this in exceptional vintages
In line with the general lateness of the vintage we set a new record for picking our sweet wine grapes, with the last of the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon botrytised fruit coming off on the 13 June, surely some of the latest in the country. While the grapes weren't as "rotten" as 2011, which was 100% botrytised and totally raisened, we are very happy with the ratio of botrytis and except another fine pair of sweet wines to rival their multi award winning predecessors.
We have finished bottling our 2011 wines, with the last of them the Reserve Pinot Noir being bottled on 5 July. At the risk of sounding like those who hype up every vintage as the best yet, we genuinely do think they are the best line up we have ever had, certainly the biggest with 11 wines now in our portfolio.
We are expecting lots of reviews for our recently released wines over the next few weeks, which will be listed on here as they come through. We will also be conducting several tastings around the country during August and September, details of which will be listed here as they are confirmed.
- Now that the grapes from the 2012 vintage have all been picked – eventually – and the wines from 2011 have all been bottled, it is time to reflect on the events of the last few months.
- May 2012
The last few months have been exciting times for Riverby Estate with the release, or imminent release, of four brand new wines. Wines we have made for the very first time; namely our Reserve Pinot Noir 2010, Syrah 2011, Noble Sauvignon-Semillon 2011 and dry Sauvignon-Semillon 2011.
We have only shown two of these to reviewers so far and Geoff Kelly has already rated the Reserve Pinot the best pinot he has seen off ‘young soils” Wairau and Michael Cooper has given the Noble Sauvignon-Semillon Five Stars in Winestate Magazine; so promising times certainly. We are quite excited about our two Sauvignon Semillon blends as these are very unusual styles for NZ. They reflect our desire for innovation and our enthusiasm to show what Sauvignon can achieve when combined with its traditional blending partner Semillon.
At the time of writing we have completed the bulk of our harvest for 2012 with only our “rotten” grapes, destined for our sweet wines, still to be hand-picked. Despite it being a very late vintage the grapes, courtesy of an incredibly benevolent autumn, have come in looking impeccable with great flavours. So a challenging vintage has turned out to be much easier and potentially more exciting than anyone could have predicted a few months ago.
We are pleased to announce that Glauch Wines are going to be representing our wines in West Australia. WA was previously the only Australian State that didn’t have access to Riverby wines. At the same time we are in the midst of a changing of the guard with some of our other Australia distributors, two of whom have done a wonderful job with our wines over the years. We have also recently appointed our very first distributors in the UK. Over the years we have had many requests for our wines from customers in the UK so it is very gratifying to finally have our wines available there and with a very fine and enthusiastic specialist NZ fine wine company The Black Dog Wine Agency.
We hope to update this news section regularly and we welcome any feedback about our wines. We are particular pleased at the aging ability of our wines, which after-all is what all fine wines should be capable of. So we welcome any feedback about experiences you might have with our older wines.
- The last few months have been exciting times for Riverby Estate with the release, or imminent release, of four brand new wines. Wines we have made for the very first time; namely our Reserve Pinot Noir 2010, Syrah 2011, Noble Sauvignon-Semillon 2011 and dry Sauvignon-Semillon 2011.