2014 Flavour ripeness vs Phenolic ripeness –
it’s a winemaking choice

We are often asked what sets our wines apart from the majority of wines produced in New Zealand. The simple answer to a complex question is: our wines are grown and picked at a point where we believe the majority of phenolic compounds are fully ripe-we call this phenolic ripeness.

Jotting 2

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2013
Laced with emotion is best

Dry River has the good fortune of strong support amongst the wine press and trade. As a celebration of our 30th vintage we have asked one of our friends in the industry to pen a piece relating to Dry River in some way.

Our first contributor is one of New Zealand’s most prolific writers, Keith Stewart. Keith writes widely on subjects including agriculture, architecture and art. Well known for his strong opinions and fearlessness of establishment, Keith is never far away from controversy!

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2010
life in a wine

Science likes to offer simple answers, nature rarely poses simple questions. A science of making top quality wine does not exist – instead we have a collection of scientific understandings of narrow questions relating to the making of fine wines and it is up to the winemakers to assemble the knowledge required for their own situation/terroir. It is not surprising then that winemakers do not (or should not) slavishly follow “recipes” from elsewhere. Nevertheless, for fine wine, there is one common goal which all will strive for and that is the need for a long-lived wine to allow the development of the virtues and flavours of the classic varietal(s) in the bottle.

“...for fine wine, there is one common goal which all will strive for...”

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2009
Points of Terroir

Reprinted from “The World of Fine Wine” Issue 23, 2009, pp31–32 where my article was first published.

I must commend “The World of Fine Wine” for its in-depth range of subjects and writing. I like it too, because of how it reports on wines. Take for example the report on the Barbaresco wines1: Barbaresco 2004. A detailed and interesting article on these wines is followed by very readable tasting notes from three top reviewers. These tasters clearly see the wines from different points of view but, reading the three descriptions on any one of the wines allows one to interpolate to give a very nice and quite sufficient picture of what they had in front of them. Their scores are also included and I am not the slightest bit surprised that these are more divergent – inevitably 2–4 points out of 20 apart for the 48 wines, indicating differences in individual preference rather than any consistent bias in the way they are scored. Full marks for publishing all the scores.

“...It is clear the texts give us a good handle on how the wines appeared and that the scores mostly have little significance except for the writers who scored them...“

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2008
Who's the Driver at Dry River

There is a common perception that fine or great wines are the product of inspiration and great flair, from a winemaker. That the winemaker looks at the sky and looks at the grapes…

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2007
Little Things Mean A Lot

A few years ago I attended a wine conference for winemakers during which many wines were tasted blind. One presentation included two wines which, on a majority opinion, were different from each other. They were actually the same wine, some of which had been couriered to the venue 2 weeks previously, with the remainder having been brought down immediately prior to the conference: this was simply a good example of what is described as "travel shock".

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2006
Fashion, Flavour and Phenomenology

In a previous article ('Jottings', Spring Cellar Notes, 2004) I developed the argument the assessment of wine is best made in the cultural context of where it originates since ‘terroir’ should be considered to include the culture and attitudes of its people as well as the more fundamental physical environment of the region.

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2005
Just How Good is Modern Winemaking

Winemaking technology has taken large strides in the last 50 years, producing a minor revolution in how the wine is made. And, make no mistake, the “traditional” wineries of Europe are frequently leading the way in these innovations.

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2004
life in a wine

Is the concept of terroir a convenient contrivance from French marketeers or is it a valuable concept in wine culture? I like the comments arising from Larousse's Wines and Vineyards of France which start from the subjective view of terroir as the link visualized by a consumer between his or her wine and the winegrower who produced it.

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2003
throwing some light on heat

Conventional wisdom has been that the warmer the grape growing region, the more quickly the vine is able to ripen grapes. 

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2002

 A number of winemakers have lent their weight to the campaign for changing to Stelvins, pointing to the problem of 'corked' wines (presently -in 2002- thought to be 6-10% depending on the corks) explaining that it is their desire to give the consumer a better deal ...

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2002

The notion that pleasure can be bought is simplistic and misleading, but nevertheless pervasive in this consumer age. It derives from the concept that pleasure is somehow intrinsic to, rather than enabled by, the object about to be enjoyed.  Read more from this musing

2001
of terroir and tradition, burgundy and pinot noir

Ask any Parisian what sort of wine he likes and he will usually talk about the place where it is grown and not the variety.

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2000
tannis, palate structure and longevity in pinot noir

Modern winemaking has evolved in the direction of using new oak barrels as a tool for adding flavour and palate structure to the wines which are stored in them. This is at variance with the legal requirements in countries like Germany, and with the traditional approach in many parts of Europe such as Alsace and parts of Italy where wine may be stored in wooden containers but a contribution of flavour or texture by the wood is avoided at all costs. Read more from this musing

1997
storing opened bottles of wine for later enjoyment

On a quiet evening, opening a special bottle of wine can be a real treat. But finishing that treasured 750mL can be a trial for one or even two people. Storing an opened wine overnight or even for several evenings is worthwhile provided it can be done without sacrificing too much of the wine quality.

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1998
wild or natural ferments/strong>

It is not uncommon for wine books and wine promotions to refer to 'wild' or 'natural' ferments when describing the production of Chardonnay and red wines. Such descriptions accord with public sentiment, which tends to prefer the natural to the artificial or technological ...

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1999
have you had any bottles of great wine lately

"There are no great wines, only great bottles" said the famous gastronome André Simone.

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1996
understing botrytis and dessert wine styles

 I frequently broach such wines outside a meal situation - on a summer's afternoon or as a restorative to remind me how wonderful life is. Whatever the circumstances, these wines should be the ultimate hedonistic expression, and their use deserves careful consideration so that they can be appreciated as such.

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1995
pursuing quality the dry river way

'Great wine comes from great grapes.' Dry River is not unique in following this tenet, but it is unusual in how it sets out to do it. 

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1994

The essence of good winemaking is the same as that for any job well done; having the means, the talent, the time and finally the dedication … Dry River will continue to offer what is different or unusual.

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