Auburn Wine Reviews
"Over the short time frame of five vintages, Auburn Wines has gone from 'zero to hero', the label representing the ultimate in Riesling wine site expression in Central Otago, if not New Zealand and Australasia. The classical versions from Germany, Alsace and Austria no doubt serve as inspirations for Max Marriott, Andrew Burge and David Paterson.
"Taking the lead from the best such wines, Auburn's approach is as non-interventionist as possible, eschewing as many forms of additions and input as possible, making the wines oxidatively and without sulphur, and as cool and long as possible to capture the maximum detail and nuance that the Riesling variety grown in different terroir has to offer. The quantities made are purposefully limited to enable full supervision of every aspect in their growing and making.
"So far, the results have been sensational, and I've loved the wines I've seen to date. The Auburn 'Bendigo' wines have been awarded 20/20 by Raymond Chan Wine Reviews for the 2011 and 2012 vintages, and the other sub-regional bottlings are not far off. Such has been the style and quality that Auburn Wines was my runner-up to 'Winery of the Year' in 2012.
"At the end of June this year, I visited Max Marriott in Cromwell and tasted the 2013 wines from tank (click here to read my report). I was extremely impressed with what I saw and Max's thoughtfulness and sensitive approach, as well as his open mindedness to trialling new styles – this being dry Riesling, as is done and taken extremely seriously in Europe. Here, I review the new 2013 releases as finished wines.
"The vintage is seen as a remarkably and positively uneventful in growing terms, except for frosting on the Lowburn site, the fruit in top condition. The wines are listed in order of ascending sweetness, and there are now five sub-regions represented. The wines are more subtle and taut at this stage compared to the previous releases, and the expressions are very different and consistent with the regional characters that I'm beginning to appreciate. This will be the vintage to explore terroir in Central Otago Riesling. As the review is being conducted after 1 December, the results will be considered for 'Winery of the Year' in 2014."
2013 Auburn Dry Central Otago Riesling (5 stars)
"Brilliant, very pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, pale on rim. The nose is very elegant and fine in intensity of lively, fresh and pure lime and lemon fruit aromas. This is classical Rieslin expression, revealing floral and mineral nuances which provide detail and depth. Dry to taste, and medium-light bodied, a soft and refined mouthfeel is the feature, the palate showing a positive core of lime and lemon flavours along with white florals. This speaks of purity and presence, the textures soft with ripe acidity and the finest phenolics that carry the wine to a gentle, dry, thirst-quenchingly long finish. This is a very fine-textured, mouthwateringly dry Riesling with classical lime and lemon fruitiness. Serve as an aperitif or with seafood over the next 5-7 years. Clean fruit from Pisa, Northburn and Bannockburn. The Northburn and Bannockburn portions WBP and cool-fermented clean; the Pisa portion foot-stomped, given 5 hours skin contact and cool-fermented in stainless-steel. 19-/20"
2013 Auburn Bannockburn Central Otago Riesling (5 stars)
"Brilliant, very pale straw colour with green hues, near colourless. The bouquet is soft and delicately pristine with pure white florals intermixed with mineral intricacies, the aromatics showing an understated concentration and power. Medium dry to medium in taste and light-bodied, this is very tight, slender and refined in presentation with a beautifully cutting, refreshing and slippery mouthfeel. The flavours of white florals and honeysuckle combine with limes and a suggestion of wet stones and show with a subtle lusciousness. The acidity has tension and energy and provides a thirst-quenching vitality carrying the palate to a delicate, nuanced and sustained finish with sweet citrus and floral notes. This is a beautifully lively and delicate, pristine medium Riesling with a subtle lusciousness. Serve as an aperitif or match with Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine over the next 6-8+ years. 19.5-/20"
2013 Auburn Pisa Central Otago Riesling (4 stars)
"Brilliant, very pale straw-green colour, near colourless. The bouquet is elegant, softly concentrated and refined with aromas of white florals, sour lemons and complexing reductive mineral, flint and nutty elements. This has a savoury funkiness to the nose offering interest and intrigue. Medium-dry to medium in sweetness and medium-bodied in weight, the mouthfeel is soft, broad and mouthfilling with fine and smooth textures. This has lovely harmony with a complex interwoven matrix of white florals, minerals, flintiness and honey. Very fine acidity underlines the palate flow, carrying the flavours to a soft, honied, moderately long finish. This is a soft, mouthfilling, broad and smooth medium Riesling with harmony and balance and some funky reduction on bouquet. Serve with antipasto and tapas or as an aperitif over the next 5-6 years. 18+/20"
2013 Auburn Northburn Central Otago Riesling (5 stars)
"Brilliant, very pale straw-green, near colourless. This has a very soft, interwoven nose with subtle and intricate nuances of wet stones, minerals, white florals, honey and musk. The bouquet hints at funkiness, but beauty reigns true. Medium-sweet to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate combines soft and refined mouthfilling textures with gently rich, up-front, honied, citrus and floral fruit flavours and lively, expressive acidity. This has wonderful presence, boldness and linearity with the citrus notes and acidity leading to a very long, lingering finish. This is a full, bright, lively medium Riesling with an element of robust and vibrant acidity and muskiness. Match with fresh fruit and Asian cuisine over the next 5-7+ years. 18.5+/20"
2013 Auburn Bendigo Central Otago Riesling (5 stars)
"Brilliant, pale straw-yellow colour with green hues and some depth. The bouquet is complete with waves of exotic florals, tropical fruits, citrus zest and honeysuckle aromas, all seamlessly integrated with a dense and concentrated core, opening and blossoming in the glass. Medium-sweet to sweet, and medium-bodied, the palate is one of seamless, open flow, beautiful harmony and layers of rich, exotic fruit flavours of tropical fruits, jasmine florals, honey and citrus zest. The mouthfeel is soft, smooth flowing and suggestive of unctuousness, with fine nervosity from refined acidity providing underlying poise and balance. The rich flavours lead to a very long, lingering and sustained finish of honey and citrus fruits. This is a beautifully rich, softly honied, exotic, medium-sweet Riesling with a harmonious and seamless mouthfeel. Match with mildly spicy cuisine and with fruit desserts over the next 5-7+ years. 19.5/20"
2013 Auburn Bendigo Central Otago Riesling (5 stars)
"Brilliant, very pale straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, near colourless on edge. This has a soft, full and broad nose with densely packed aromas of white and yellow florals, honey entwined with funky, flinty and nutty complexities, brooding and promising to release layers of interest. Medium sweet to sweet to taste and medium-bodied with real presence on the palate, softly open and broad, mouthfilling flavours of exotic florals honey and flinty minerals meld smoothly and harmoniously, building in richness and creaminess. The flavours and textures coat the palate, with a fine thread of phenolics building and carrying the fruit to a long, lingering, open finish. This is a sweet Riesling with full, soft, rich and mouth-coating richness melding the complex, honied and flinty flavours. Serve as an aperitif, with moderately spicy dishes, fruit desserts or soft cheeses over the next 6-8 years. 18.5-/20"
Auburn's cream of the 2013 crop
"There is one New Zealand wine producer dedicated solely to making Riesling in New Zealand; Auburn in Central Otago; owned by three Riesling lovers, headed up by viticulturist Max Marriott. This year there are five different Auburn Rieslings from sub-regions in Central; Bannockburn, Pisa, Northburn, Bendigo and Lowburn. The wines are all relatively low in alcohol, made in small quantities and brand new right now. They were released in November 2013."
2013 Auburn Bannockburn Central Otago NZ Riesling
"This 11% alcohol wine was made with grapes grown in the relatively dry Bannockburn sub-region of Central Otago; it has an impeccably managed balance of flavour, thanks to its 24 grams per litre of residual sugar. It tastes just off-dry and has a light body with a pronounced lime skin aroma and flavour, stretching out to a long, fresh finish. Super refreshing, this wine is a stunner lightly chilled on a hot day. Super youthful, it drinks well now but will age beautifully too. AGE ME, PLEASE."
2013 Auburn Pisa Central Otago NZ Riesling
"Made with grapes grown in the Pisa sub-region of Central Otago, this is super clean, super intense – think limes, green apples and lemon zest – with a long finish and a lovely light-ish 11% alcohol. It is off dry but shows an exquisite balance of acidity and intensely aromatic flavour. INTENSE, LIGHT, BEAUTIFUL."
2013 Auburn Northburn Central Otago NZ Riesling
"I adore this wine, which has wonderful balance and such a long finish that days afterwards, I can still conjure up its clean, fresh, intense aromas, which are a winning combo of white flowers and lime zest. The balance here is impeccable. Beautiful low alcohol of 10% marries seamlessly with a zesty crunch red apple taste and a succulent core of lingering freshness. Everything I love about Riesling is encapsulated in this beautiful wine. Proof again – as if any was needed – that Central Otago is one of the world's great Riesling regions; just waiting to happen on a wider scale. FAVOURITED."
2013 Auburn Bendigo Central Otago NZ Riesling
"Sporting the lowest alcohol of this year's Auburn line-up at just 9%, this wine has correspondingly high residual sugar of 56 grams per litre and just 895 bottles were made. It's from Bendigo – home to some of my all-time favourite Pinot Noirs from Central over the past decade – and certainly showing fabulous Riesling potential too. The aromas are a beautiful, seamless amalgamation of citrusy lime, mandarin and peach and the finish is so long that every sip merges into the next. A stunning wine, beautiful balance. SPRITZY LITTLE THING."
2013 Auburn Lowburn Central Otago NZ Riesling
"The Essence of Riesling; peachy aromas married to dried apricot flavours before finishing on a crisp white apple note. Lovely. This is the fifth year running that Auburn has had a Lowburn Riesling and only 573 bottles were made at 9.5% alcohol and a relatively high residual sugar (high for this line-up). ESSENCE OF RIESLING."
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