Two Paddocks Riesling 2014
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Established in 1993 by itinerant actor Sam Neill, initially the sole aim was to share ethereal pinot noir moments with loved ones. Sam is now the only producer to own land in the three main valleys of Central Otago - Gibbston, Bannockburn (Cromwell Basin) and Alexandra. All vineyards are certified organic. Two Paddocks Estate Pinot Noir is an assemblage of the four vineyards and is a barrel selection comprised of the older blocks. Tiny volumes of single vineyard wines, The Proprietor's Reserves, are also produced. The First Paddock Vineyard is in Gibbston, The Fusilier Vineyard is in Bannockburn and The Last Chance and The Red Bank Vineyards are in Alexandra. *Central Otago is the Southern-most viticultural area in the Antipodes - eg. it sits on the 45th Parallel below Tasmania. Two Paddocks aims to produce understated gentle savoury expressions of their extreme Southern cool climate schist rock origins. Two Paddocks vineyards and wines are certified organic and revolve around a holistic sustainable farming model wherebye all waste from the winery is returned to the vineyards and converted to compost, to be fed back on to the land. The over-riding philosophy is to never take out of the soil more than is being given back. This robust soil biomass will create vibrant healthy vines that produce the very best expressions of their Central Otago terroir. All the crew in the vineyard are full time employees of Two Paddocks, except for the height of summer when extra help is required for all the labour intensive work that organic farming practices demand eg. green thinning and hand harvesting. Nurturing the vines and creating a balanced crop load is important in Central Otago's sometimes marginal cool climate so the cropping levels are very low at 5 Tonne per hectare maximum. Harvest is usually early April and the fruit is sorted in the vineyard then given a 5-7 day cold maceration to extract colour and aroma. The ferments have a high proportion of total whole cluster - 25% for the Estate Two Paddocks and 50-70% for the Proprietor's Reserves. An indigenous fermentation then begins spontaneously with no added commercial yeasts added and the ferment is only plunged once a day for the most gentle of extractions. Fermentation temperatures typically reach 30-32 degrees celsius and post fernent the wine is given another 5-7 days on skins depending on the year - so total time on skins is approximately 25-30 days. The wine is then given 11 months maturation in medium toast French barriques - 20% new oak and the balance in one - five year old barrels. At bottling the wine is sometimes given a light egg white fining, depending on the year, and a course filtration. Screwcaps are used because of historical adverse affects that cork has had on quality and Two Paddocks want the consumer to receive the very best Two Paddocks wine that is possible - just as the winemaker and The Prop intended.
Home to the globe’s most southerly vineyards, which are cultivated below the 45th parallel, Central Otago is a true one-of-a-kind wine growing region, but not only because of its extreme location.
Central Otago is more dependent on one single variety than any other region in New Zealand—and it isn’t Sauvignon blanc. They don’t even make Sauvignon blanc there.
Pinot Noir claims nearly 75% of the region’s vineyards with Pinot Gris coming in a far second place and Riesling behind it. This is also New Zealand’s only wine region with a continental climate, giving it more diurnal and seasonal temperature shifts than any other.
The subregion of Bannockburn has enjoyed the most success historically but the area’s exceptional growth has moved to the promising regions of Cromwell/Bendigo and Alexandra districts. Central Otago is known for its fruity and full-bodied Pinot noir. With the freedom to experiment here, growers and winemakers are easily exhibiting the area’s great potential.
A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining easily identifiable typicity. This versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
In the Glass
Riesling typically produces wine with relatively low alcohol, high acidity, steely minerality and stone fruit, spice, citrus and floral notes. At its ripest, it leans towards juicy peach, nectarine and pineapple, while cooler climes produce Rieslings redolent of meyer lemon, lime and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of petrol.
Riesling is quite versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, most Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese (bottlings with some residual sugar and low alcohol are the perfect companions for dishes with substantial spice) and freshly shucked oysters. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.
It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.