Riverby Estate: A decade of Marlborough Riesling



Riverby Estate is a relatively small producer in Marlborough in New Zealand. If you not heard of Riverby before, you might have heard of their next door neighbour, Cloudy Bay.

The first vines were planted in 1989 on what had previously been mixed farmland. There are now over 70 hectares are planted with sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, riesling, pinot gris, semillon, syrah and grüner veltliner.

For this tasting, Kevin Courtney took us through nine of Riverby's dry rieslings from 2001 to 2012, omitting 2003, 2005 and 2010.

Kevin Courtney of Riverby Estate and Tom Cannavan of wine-pages.com
Kevin Courtney of Riverby Estate and Tom Cannavan, founder and publisher of wine-pages.com

bottles of Riverby Estate Dry Rieslings

2001 Dry Riesling Riverstone Run, Riverby Estate
Strong, flinty minerality. Slight gassy mercaptans. Bracing acidity.
A lovely zesty-limey palate. Really zippy and zingy.
This evolved quite a lot in the glass over the course of the masterclass, and as it warmed.

2002 Dry Riesling, Riverby Estate
This has more peachy fruit on the nose than the 2001. It's rounder, more open and less tight, and less bracing, the corollary of which is that it's more immediately approachable and easy. But there's still the same fabulous zingy acidity on the finish.
Again, this evolved nicely as it warmed up. A bit rounder, but still with that brilliant acidity on the finish. Really zesty-zingy.
I've rated this 92 against the 2001's 91, but in reality they're closer than that - a low 92 and a high 91 respectively.

2004 Dry Riesling, Riverby Estate
Much more oily, petrol notes on the nose here.
Excellent palate. Lovely pure riesling. Very good acidity, but very balanced.
However, it seems much more ordinary than the 2001 and 2002.

2006 Dry Riesling, Riverby Estate
Very fresh lime and peach aromas on the nose, but there's also a hint of rubbery mercaptans. A bit reductive.
Very attractive palate. Very fruity and broad.
Fatter than the preceding vintages and feels much riper.

2007 Dry Riesling, Riverby Estate
Super-attractive nose. This has the fruit and the zing all in balance.
Lovely palate, which has a real zip. Full of fresh fruit and perfect balancing acidity.
Feels richer and more open.

2008 Dry Riesling, Riverby Estate
Strong granitey minerality on the nose. Just a little gassy stink.
Good, well balanced palate. Nice, crisp fruit. Very limey.

2009 Dry Riesling, Riverby Estate
Quite closed and tight on the nose. Granitey minerality again.
Very precise palate. Some good fruit initially, but then that's followed up with massive acidity.
could probably do with a few years, but a terrific wine.

2011 Dry Riesling, Riverby Estate
Lots of green fruit on the nose with a hefty minerality behind.
So attractive in the mouth. Round, open stone fruit.
There's an almost sherbetty zing on the finish.

2012 Dry Riesling, Riverby Estate
Great nose: very rounded, with attractive peachy fruit. Slightly extracted feel to it.
Very rounded palate, but also very pure.

The most remarkable thing, I think was that they were all so similar, despite there being over 10 years between oldest and youngest. This is an estate I'm going to look out for. Buyers of New Zealand wines may like to note that Kevin Courtney said a couple of times that 2015 is a top vintage for New Zealand.

Some further Riverby Estate wines tasted the same weekend

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Last updated: 22 September 2016