Raymond Chan Wine Review – Urlar Riesling 2014

February 3rd, 2017

Urlar Gladstone Riesling 2014
There are significant developments at Urlar, the Gladstone wine venture in the Wairarapa established by Angus and Davina Thomson in 2004.  With organics as a base philosophy, Urlar was certified BioGro organic in 2010, but the Thomsons have recently made commitments to biodynamic winegrowing.  Long-serving winemaker Guy McMaster, who was an integral part of the vineyard and wine style evolution has left, and his position was filled by the highly experienced and thoughtful Carol Bunn from Central Otago in time for the 2016 harvest.  Carol, too, is devoted to the natural approach of winegrowing, and her track record of making numerous award-winning wines will see Urlar make strong progress.  Here, I review the 2014 Urlar Riesling, made by Guy McMaster, held back for further bottle maturation and increased complexity, and now released by the Thomsons and Carol Bunn.

Urlar Gladstone Riesling 2014  – 4 Stars
Brilliant straw-yellow colour with light golden hues, paler on the rim.  The nose is harmoniously concentrated with deep and intense aromas of limes and ripe citrus fruits interwoven with yellow florals and toasty secondary complexities, unfolding nuances of honeysuckle and minerals.  Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate features a stylishly concentrated core of lime fruit entwined with layers of toast and notes of honey and minerals.  The fruit possesses subtle richness and grows in intensity, and is enlivened by fresh, brisk acidity.  The wine flows along a fine-textured line of fruit extract with a little grip, leading to an elegant, nuanced, dry finish.  This is an elegantly concentrated, moderately rich dry Riesling with lime and complex toasty flavours on a lively palate with a fine-textured flow.  Serve as an aperitif, with seafood and Asian fare over the next 4-5 years.  Hand-picked fruit cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.5% alc. and 6.5 g/L RS, TA 8.4 g/L and pH 2.9, the wine aged on lees.  Certified BioGro organic.  18.0+/20  Jan 2017

Peter Saunders Review – Aug 2016

September 5th, 2016

Urlar Gladstone Pinot Gris 2014  97/100

Gold medal level Pinot Gris to this commentator. Oak matured, boldly fruited, balanced and tasty, a credit to the Gladstone sub-region of Wairarapa. A delicious dry white to suit a range of food styles from light to medium. Ready, without rush, into 2020.

Urlar Gladstone Pinot Noir 2014  91/100

Certified organic.  Very inviting aromatics, clean, and alive.  Subtle Pinot palate, tasty and suited to red meat or spicy food.  Ready from now on, into 2018.

Urlar Gladstone Noble Riesling 2015  (375ml bottle) 93/100

Tastes as a ripe, late-pick style with a hint of botrytis.  Clean, alive wine, 12% alcohol, delicious with the right food courses, perhaps melon and prosciutto.  Tidy wine in fine condition, no hurry through 2018.

Urlar Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2015  91/100

Certified organic.  Partly oak fermented. Tasty wine, perhaps a unique style for Gladstone sub-region (of Wairarapa) yet carries the Sauvignon tone New Zealand is known for.  Balanced, near perfect mouth-feel.  A fine wine for poultry and fish courses.  No hurry through 2017.

Sam Kim Reviews Urlar Wine – August 2016

September 5th, 2016

Urlar Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Gladstone 91 4.5
Partially fermented in seasoned oak barrels, this stylish rendition offers elegant aromas of white stone fruit, lemon/lime zest, dried herb and red apple on the nose. The palate is beautifully weighted and rounded with excellent fruit richness backed by bright acidity, finishing superbly long and vibrant. The wine is restrained and complex, and should make a wonderful food partner.

At its best: now to 2019.

Urlar Pinot Noir 2014 Gladstone 94 5
This is gorgeous and delectable. The wine is impressively complex on the nose displaying dark berry, smoked meat, clove and cedar characters with nuances of truffle and violet.

At its best: now to 2021.

Urlar Pinot Gris 2014 Gladstone 95 5
The grapes were hand harvested and the juice was fermented in oak barrels for this richly fruited and superbly complex rendition of the variety. The bouquet shows yellow stone fruit, baked pear, vanilla, oatmeal and almond characters, leading to a sumptuous palate that is filled with ripe fruit flavours and velvety texture. It is multi-layered and beautifully harmonious. A seriously good alternative-style.

At its best: now to 2019.

Urlar Noble Riesling 2015 Gladstone 94 5
This gorgeously rich and opulent sweet wine offers fabulous aromas of marmalade, dark honey, potpourri and dried flowers. The palate is concentrated and rounded with lovely sweetness, wonderfully balanced by bright acidity, which provides excellent freshness. A beautifully composed wine offering loads of delicious flavours.

At its best: now to 2020.

Raymond Chan Reviews Urlar Wine:

August 22nd, 2016

2015 Sauvignon Blanc and Noble Riesling

2014 Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir

Established in 2004, Angus and Davina Thomson’s Urlar wine venture is already one of the leading producers in Gladstone and the wider Wairarapa region.  The Thomsons approached making wine with organics as a base philosophy, and over the years as they worked towards certification, they have experienced, as with all vineyards in transition, variation in the fruit and the resulting wines.  The Thomsons along with long-serving winemaker Guy McMaster have weathered these differences to produce creditable, high quality wines that are sophisticated and textural.

Urlar gained BioGro organic certification in 2010, but it is only now that Angus believes the plants and the 31 ha vineyard are coming into balance.  Earlier this year, experienced winemaker Carol Bunn took over the winemaking duties from McMaster, and it will be interesting to see her input in the wines.  In discussing styles with her and Angus, I suspect we will see a little more fruit richness come through, while retaining the textural complexities.  Some of this will no doubt be a result of the maturing vineyard and vines.  Here, I review the latest Urlar releases, the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and Noble Riesling, and 2014 Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, these wines made by Guy McMaster.

Urlar Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2015= 4 Stars

Bright, very pale straw colour with slight green hues, near colourless on the rim.  The nose is light, clean and pristine with aroma of gooseberries and green stonefruits along with subtle white floral notes, revealing suggestions of nuts and minerals.  Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the fruit flavour of gooseberries, green stonefruits, fresh herbs and florals are reserved in expression.  Nutty and chalky mineral nuances unfold lending interest.  The palate has good body and presence with fine-grained, chalky textures and underlying brisk acidity providing a thirst-quenching mouthfeel.  The wine carries with good linearity to a fine, dry-textured, lingering finish of gooseberries.  This is a light and restrained Sauvignon Blanc with gooseberry fruit, a fresh mouthfeel with good presence and subtle chalky textures.  Serve with shellfish, salads and vegetables over the next 2 years.  Fruit cool-fermented in stainless-steel with approx. 7% in seasoned oak barrels to 13.5% alc. and 3.2 g/L RS.  Certified BioGro organic.  17.5-/20  Aug 2016

Urlar Gladstone Pinot Gris 2014 = 4 Stars

Bright straw-yellow colour with light golden hues, paler on edge.  The nose is very full and densely packed with complex layers of savoury yellow stonefruits and nutty oak and minerally lees elements.  The aromatics grow in concentration and intensity with aeration.  Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate features fulsome and broad flavours that are solidly presented with considerable depth, showing a complex layering of savoury yellow stonefruits melded with nuts, smoke and minerals.  There is richness present, and this is balanced by fine textures lending a light grip.  Underlying lacy energy contributes drive and carries the wine to a lingering, complex, savoury finish.  This is a full and densely packed, complex layered dry Pinot Gris with savoury stonefruit and nutty flavours.  Match with poultry, pork and veal over the next 3-4 years.  Fruit WBP and fully barrel-fermented in seasoned French oak to 14.0% alc. and 1.5 g/L RS, the wine aged 12 months in barrel on lees with batonnage and 100% MLF.  Certified BioGro organic.  18.0/20  Aug 2016

Urlar Gladstone Pinot Noir 2014 = 4 Stars

Moderately dark, deep, garnet-red colour, lighter on the rim.  The nose is full and voluminous with harmoniously interwoven, complex aromas of savoury red berry fruits, dried herbs, whole cluster stalk elements and secondary earthy nuances that build in depth and intensity in the glass.  Medium-full bodied, the palate is soft and gently layered with complex flavours of savoury dark-red berry fruits melded with dark and dried herbs, undergrowth and stalk suggestions, earth and cedar.  The fruit has sweetness and lusciousness and is supported by fine, grainy tannin extraction and structure, forming a concentrated core.  The acidity is integrated, lending soft energy and linearity, and the wine leads to a long, lingering, lively finish with an array of savoury complexities.  This is a complex flavoured and layered Pinot Noir with savoury red fruits, undergrowth and earth, with a well-structured core.  Match with casseroles and slow-cooked game dishes over the next 5 years.  Hand-picked fruit, clones 5, 115, 667, 777 and 114, indigenous yeast fermented with 15% whole clusters to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 20% new French oak barriques.  Certified BioGro organic.  18.0+/20  Aug 2016

Urlar Gladstone Noble Riesling 2015 = 5 Stars

Full, even, light golden yellow colour, a little pale on rim.  This has a very full, broad and rounded nose with concentrated aromas of lime marmalade, honey, exotic florals and tropical fruits, nectar and musk.  Very sweet to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate is rich and unctuous with flavours of aromatic lime marmalade, honey and nectar, musk and talc.  The fruit richness and sweetness lend a rounded mouthfeel and form a deep core, but is balanced by fresh, lacy acidity.  This has good linear flow and the palate carries to a lusciously soft, exotic, lingering finish with citrus, honey and musk flavours.  This is a rich and unctuous Noble Riesling with exotic marmalade, honey and musk flavours balanced by fine, fresh acidity.  Match with fruit and baked desserts, and crème caramel over the next 4-5 years.  Hand-picked fruit, fully botrytised, given overnight skin contact and tank-fermented to 12.0% alc. and 126 g/L RS, TA 9.4 g/L and pH 3.3, the wine aged on lees.  Certified BioGro organic.  (375 ml)  18.5/20  Aug 2016


Gold Medal for Urlar Select Parcels – NZ Organic Wine Awards 2015

May 20th, 2015

Gold Medal:

Urlar Select Parcels Pinot Noir 2013

Urlar Select Parcels Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Silver Medal:

Urlar Pinot Gris 2013

Urlar Pinot Noir 2013

Urlar Sauvignon Blanc 2014

5 Stars for Urlar Select Parcels – Review by Raymond Chan

March 4th, 2015

Urlar 2013 Select Parcels Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir

Since the first vintage in 2007, Angus and Davina Thomson’s Urlar has quickly become one of the Wairarapa’s leading wine producers. The wines come from a single 31 ha vineyard in Gladstone which attained BioGro organic certification in 2010, and is run to biodynamic practices. Talented and thoughtful winemaker Guy McMaster crafts excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir that show why the Wairarapa is suited to viticulture.

Over the course of several visits to Urlar, I could see that Angus and Guy were keen to introduce wines with greater interest and complexities. The ‘Select Parcels’ range has been created from the excellent 2013 vintage and due for release to the market in February 2015. These will become Urlar’s flagship wines, the first being a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir. The wines are made from parcels of fruit in the vineyard identified early in the season as being suited to the desired style. The winemaking for these wines is different to the normal practices, the Sauvignon Blanc fermented in barrel and the Pinot Noir with a greater proportion of whole clusters. The wines are further defined by a barrel selection by blind tasting, these given a longer period of oak maturation to further increase integration.

Urlar ‘Select Parcels’ Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Brilliant, pale straw-yellow colour, lighter on rim.  The bouquet is fresh and well-defined with intense and penetrating aromas of white and green stonefruits infused with nutty, oxidative complexities, revealing herbs and chalky, minerally detail.  Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the flavours of white and yellow stonefruits are subtly melded with complexing nutty notes.  The fruit is vibrant and sweetly rich, and backed by lively, refresh acidity lending real energy, brightness and a slippery flow.  The wine follows a very fine, soft-textured line, leading to an elegantly proportioned, long, nutty finish.  This is an elegant, luscious and slippery, complex, nutty, barrel-influenced Sauvignon Blanc.  Match with seafood, poultry and pork over the next 3+ years.  Select parcels of fruit destemmed and given some skin contact, and barrel-fermented in seasoned French barriques to 14.0% alc., the wine aged 8 months in oak undergoing batonnage and partial MLF.  Following a barrel selection the wine was given further barrel aging on lees.  18.5/20  Dec 2014  RRP $30.00

Urlar ‘Select Parcels’ Gladstone Pinot Noir 2013

Dark, deep, ruby-red colour with lighter garnet hues on rim.  The nose is softly full and voluminous with layers of savoury ripe, red berry fruits entwined with complex dried herb and savoury whole berry stalky perfumes.  The aromatics build in depth, revealing spice elements.  Medium-full bodied, the palate features an array of interwoven flavours, showing soft red berry fruits, spicy plums and liquorice, along with subtle, complexing dried herb and stalk notes, and oak elements.  The flavours form a tight core with line and drive, and the mouthfeel is enlivened by bright, refreshing, lacy acidity.  The wine is supported by fine grained tannin extraction which carries the wine to an elegant and slender, well-concentrated, lingering finish.  This is an elegantly concentrated, lively, Pinot Noir with complex spicy and savoury whole bunch flavours.  Serve with casseroles and red game meat dishes over the next 6+ years.  Select parcels if fruit hand-picked and hand-sorted, given a cold soak and indigenous yeast fermented with 30% whole clusters to 14.0% alc., the wine aged in 20% new French oak.  The barrels selected were given further barrel aging on lees.  18.5/20  Dec 2014  RRP $30.00

Urlar Select Parcels – Reviewed by Michael Cooper in the Listener Jan 2015

March 4th, 2015

Sam Kim – 5 Stars for Urlar Select Parcels

December 29th, 2014

Urlar Select Parcels Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Gladstone

94/100    5 STARS

This is luxurious, dramatic and engaging, and also firmly structured for a graceful development. A magnificent barrel-fermented style showing complex aromas of stone fruit, citrus and flint with hints of almond and dill. The palate is concentrated and richly textured with excellent mid palate weight, flowing beautifully to a long, expansive finish. A wine showing wonderful style and impeccable harmony. At its best: now to 2022. $30.00. Certified organic. Dec 2014.

Urlar Select Parcels Pinot Noir 2013, Gladstone

95/100    5 STARS

Powerful and graceful, the wine exhibits seamless infusion of dark berries, truffle and game with subtle cedar and dried herb nuance. It’s expansive and symphonic on the palate with outstanding concentration while remaining elegant and poised. Impressively structured, immensely appealing and though-provoking at the same time. At its best: 2015 to 2023. $60.00. Certified organic. Dec 2014.

Raymond Chan Wine Reviews – Urlar

December 29th, 2014

Urlar 2013 Sauvignon and Riesling, and 2013 Pinot Gris and Noir

‘Economic and environmental sustainability are our driving principles’ states the Urlar website, and indeed Angus and Davina Thomson are committed to the land having achieved BioGro organic certification early on in their Gladstone venture in 2010.  The Thomsons and their viticulturist-winemaker Guy McMaster tend the 31 ha Urlar vineyard to biodynamic regimes, and reckon this to be fundamental to the quality and style of the wines.  Their approach has rapidly taken the Urlar label to be among the most exciting and interesting in the Wairarapa.  I visited Urlar at the beginning of last year and saw barrel samples of the 2012 Pinot Noir and thought them very promising, especially for a cool vintage (click here to see my report).  The finished wine is now released, and I review it along with the new 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling wines and 2012 Pinot Gris.

Urlar Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – 4 STARS

Bright straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, pale edged.  This has a very tight and penetrating nose of cooler-spectrum cut grass and nettle-like fruit aromas, with subtle passionfruit nuances, the bouquet revealing savoury herbs and mouthwatering minerals.  Dry to taste and medium-bodied, fresh, lively fruit flavours of grass, capsicums and gooseberries form a tight core and show with lusciousness and vitality.  Herb, green apple and mineral detail unfold, and the palate flows with energy, following a very fine phenolic, textural line.  Lifted florals and minerals feature on the long, firm, racy finish.  This is an elegant, refreshingly juicy and lively Sauvignon Blanc with cut and linearity.  Match with seafood, poultry, salads and vegetables in Mediterranean-inspired fare over the next 2 years.  Fermented in stainless-steel with a portion in seasoned oak to 13.5% alc. and 2.3 g/L RS.  Certified BioGro organic.  17.5+/20  May 2014  RRP $24.00

Urlar Gladstone Riesling 2013 – 4 STARS

Cool-fermented in stainless-steel to 12.0% alc. and 7.0 g/L RS, and TA 8.6 g/l and pH 2.92, the wine aged on lees.  Bright straw-yellow colour with slight lemon-green hues.  The nose is clean, fresh and steely, with lime and lemon fruit aromas, lifted with white floral and stonefruit notes, revealing savoury citrus, honey and toast nuances in the glass,  Dry to taste and light-medium bodied, the palate is elegantly concentrated with fruit flavours of limes and lemons along with savoury mineral elements.  This has good fruit extract and the palate is carried by soft, dry textures with underlying, thirst-quenching acid drive to a sustained, citrussy finish.  This is a dry, concentrated, mouth-watering Riesling with lime-like fruit and savoury nuances.  Serve as an aperitif and with seafood.  It will develop greater complexity over the next 5-6 years.  Certified BioGro organic.  18.0/20  May 2014  RRP $27.00

Urlar Gladstone Pinot Gris 2012 – 4 STARS

Fruit hand-picked and WBP, fully barrel-fermented in seasoned oak to 13.0% alc. and 1.4 g/L RS, the wine aged 12 months in oak, the wine undergoing batonnage.  Full straw-yellow colour with pale gold hues.  The nose is full and broad with solid and deep aromas of yellow stonefruits with minerally lees elements and nutty, barrel nuances, unfolding complexing layers of pear and honeysuckle with aeration.  Dry to taste and medium-bodied, softly concentrated and well-packed flavours of savoury yellow stonefruits are melded with minerals, smoke and nutty elements.  The mouthfeel is rounded from the barrel-ferment, with some phenolic textures forming a dry palate line.  The palate flows with good drive to a weighty and dry, grainy, lingering finish.  This is a medium-bodied, dry Pinot Gris with complex

Bob Campbell Reviews Urlar Select Parcels

December 29th, 2014

Urlar Select Parcels Wairarapa NZ Sauvignon Blanc 2013

4 STARS (90/100)

Oak fermented and matured Sauvignon that is represents a selection of the finest barrels. Richly textured wine that still retains good fruit purity with mineral, grapefruit and nutty yeast lees flavours. Oak character is evident but appropriately restrained. Good potential.

Urlar Select Parcels Wairarapa NZ Pinot Noir 2013

5 STARS (93/100)

Organic Pinot Noir that is a selection of the best barrels. Elegant wine with appealing purity and flavours suggesting flint/mineral, cherry, violet and dried herbs. The wine shows impressive power delivered with subtlety. Quite Burgundian in style.