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Wine of the Week for week ending 4 August 2002
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Riverby Estate Riverstone Run Riesling 2001
Marlborough, New Zealand

Kevin Courtney (no relation) wrote to me after I posted my reviews of Cuisine magazine's Top Ten riesling tasting a few weeks ago.

"On checking your site today I was disappointed to see that the only Cuisine Top Ten riesling you didn't review was the fourth placed Riverby Estate Riesling", he lamented.

"Well that's because I didn't taste it", I replied, explaining that the store that hosted the tasting did not have any of the product to try.

And so a few days later I had two bottles on the 2001 Riverby Estate Riverstone Run Riesling in hand.

One came with a screwcap wine seal, the other with a cork.

I tried them in a line-up with a few other rieslings and there was no doubt about the result - the 2001 Riverby Estate Riverstone Run Riesling with the screwcap was easily my favourite.

This is a pure riesling with a lime blossom fragrance and clean piercing yet delicate flavours of lemon with just a smidgen of spice. It's dry and smooth with good palate weight and a honeysuckle sweetness on the lingering finish. Definitely more-ish.

I pulled the other bottle out of the line-up and tried them side by side to determine what the difference was.

I wrote back to Kevin with my findings. "There was a very subtle cork taint or cork influenced flavour in the Riverby Riesling that had been closed with a cork. It possibly may not have been detected if one was not doing the comparison - but I was looking for differences. I did not find any difference on the nose, only in the palate. There was a definite 'cheesy' flavour in the cork-closed wine together with a touch of bitterness on the finish that I didn't find in the other. ".

So while both wines were good, the wine closed with the screwcap was just so much better.

Tonight as I tried to decide what my Wine of the Week should be, I found some wine left in the bottom of the screwcapped bottle. It was four weeks since my riesling tasting and since then it had been tried with various foods to determine a good match. The wine had not deteriorated at all, perhaps increasing in its enjoyment factor which is a good sign for the cellaring potential of this wine.

And as for the food - it was seafood I was looking at. And so it is my recommendation to enjoy the Riverby Estate Riverstone Run Riesling 2001 with pan-fried snapper, scallops that are now in season - try the scallop white and roes separately - and fresh whitebait when the season starts in September.

Also look out for the Riverby Estate Riverstone Riesling from 2000 as well. I loved this wine as well. Apart from the slightly 'cheesy' flavour introduced by the cork, which in facts adds a richness I feel, this wine has a floral nose and zesty, sherbet-like citrus and fizzy fruit flavours with a touch of honey creeping in. It's dry and salivating with apple and lime amongst the flowers and a long lifted finish with the spice of citrus. Although a year older it still has youthful charm.

The riesling grapes for the wine come from a single vineyard on Jacksons Road, which has been planted on the old river gravels on a former route of the Opawa Stream. In the 2001 wine, which was harvested at less than 4 tons per acre, there is 3.3 grams of residual sugar and 12.5% alcohol. The 2000 wine clocks in at 13% alcohol.

These Riverby Estate Rieslings have been a delightful discovery. Both vintages are a very good expression of what can be achieved in Marlborough.

Riverby Estate wine should be fairly available in New Zealand at around $19 a bottle. Riverby Estate Wines are also available in Australia.

Read more about Riverby Estate here.

© Sue Courtney

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