Do you want to try my new wine?" emailed Kirk Bray, vigneron of new venture Georges Road Wines. You may know Kirk's name as winemaker for Sandihurst Estate but Georges Road is his own label made from grapes grown on his eight hectare vineyard in, you guessed it, Georges Road. Riesling is the first release and later this year there will be Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Syrah out too.
Kirk spent two years making wine in Germany's Pfalz region, working at a small family estate, where the focus for fruit was about the expression of terroir and the focus for the wines was balance, elegance and complexity, together with the ability to age and to pair well with food. This is his philosophy at Georges Road.
However his Riesling is styled on the great wines of the Mosel – highly aromatic with lower alcohol, a medium level of sweetness and well balanced vibrant natural acidity. And this is what he has achieved in his debut wine.
Georges Road Block Three Waipara Riesling 2010 is off dry in style with a delicate honeysuckle aroma. It's a juicy wine with well-balanced acidity to the natural sweetness, becoming richer and richer as it traverses the palate. Tasted at autumn room temperature as well as from the refrigerator, I prefer this wine with chilling. It aromatically enhances the citrus character, while the acidity is brighter and fresher in the palate. Fruit is complex – perhaps a hint of apricot and the merest suggestion of tropical fruit, but of course classic riesling flavours of red apple, lemon and lime with a tickle of zesty spice and a touch of mandarin on the finish. And all the while a flinty, almost earthy undercurrent, so inherent to the Mosel styles.
Kirk picked the fruit for this wine in three passes with a period of just over six weeks between the first and last passes. In the winery each parcel of fruit was whole bunch pressed and the juice settled before it underwent natural ferment. Ferment was stopped when he deemed the wine to be in balance and each parcel remained on its gross lees until they were blended together just before bottling, some five months later. The finished wine has 11% alcohol, 30 grams of residual sugar and 8.1 grams of total acidity. This wine looks rather attractive in its tall traditional Riesling-style bottle. It's labelled as 'medium dry' and is sealed with a Diam cork.
The other thing I really like about this wine is that it lasts over several days – if you want it to – and that's a good thing with a Diam closure. So long as the cork is pushed tightly back in and the wine is stored in the fridge, you can treat it like a tonic, with a glass every day over four to six days. A literal Wine of the Week - and l loved the complexity that it garnered.
However, matching food was a problem. Because of the wine's sweetness, it didn't match with my traditional meals of steak, pork, chicken and seafood, but spicy Thai takeaways did the trick. The sweetness of the wine cuts through the spiciness and the acidity cuts through the oiliness. The two meals we had were a Penang Red Curry and a Hot Spicy Beef.
Kirk has priced the Riesling at $23.50 a bottle – plus freight. It comes in six-packs and it's worth a try if you like this style of wine. But don't be in a hurry to drink it because this is excellent Riesling from a great vintage year and it's going to be a return on investment with cellar time. Check out www.georgesroadwines.co.nz.
© Sue Courtney
22 May 2011