Cloudy Bay 2004 Late Harvest Riesling

Cloudy Bay 2004 Late Harvest RieslingWe wanted a sweet wine for dessert last weekend and spotted this in a shop. It wasn’t cheap, but I was keen to try it. Cloudy Bay is a famous New Zealand winery, in the Marlborough region, best known for its world-famous Sauvignon blanc.

I’ve tried some Riesling before and it has, in my mind, a very distinct aroma. I noticed it as soon as I sniffed a glass of this one. It was citrusy, with lime the dominant fruit. And that distinctive smell of Riesling… I don’t know how else to describe it – it doesn’t remind me of anything else in the world. Sort of sweetish, minerally like a handful of wet gravel, and also fragrant like alpine wildflowers, with a piercing quality of fresh cold air, perhaps a tiny bit like bleach, although not unpleasant. Overall it’s a positive aroma, but hard to describe without rifling my aroma vocabulary for unusual descriptors.

The flavour was sweet and citrusy, tangy with acidity, and a slight hint of spiciness, like an apple strudel made with tangy green apples and just a faint touch of cinnamon. It wasn’t syrupy sweet, and in fact the sweetness was so restrained that M. declared it didn’t taste to her like a dessert wine at all. It was in the continuum between the ever so slightly sweet Gew├╝rztraminer we had a while back and a full-on dessert wine. I could actually see having this one with a meal of fish, rather than dessert. I actually had it with cheese and a fresh pear, which matched nicely – I don’t think it would have worked with a chocolate cake.

I look forward to seeing if the next Riesling I have also has that unmistakeable “Riesling” aroma – if it’s indeed a constant then I can confidently say that I could pick Riesling out of a line-up of white wines without any trouble at all. I only hope at some point I start to get a similar feel for reds. The next week should help, as we’re taking a vacation trip to Western Australia, and spending a few days in the Margaret River wine region there, so should be dropping in on a few wineries.

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