Riesling is one of my favourite grapes. Although it is often misunderstood, being accused of having a rather sweet character with not much else behind it, Riesling can be made into a fantastically sweet wine: well balanced and containing excellent acidity.
Germany is best known for those wonderfully sweet wines but New Zealand is fast becoming a contender in the production of quality Riesling, both sweet and dry. Pegasus Bay is one of those producers who are taking the riesling grape and making a run with it. I was recently at a lunch where the Pegasus Bay 2008 Encore Noble Riesling was served with a stem ginger ice cream and stewed rhubarb.
A few words about Pegasus Bay before I plunge into the wine. Pegasus Bay is situated in the Wairapa Valley region on the South Island and the vines are under a ridge which protects them from the winds that come off the Pacific Ocean. Pegasus Bay was founded in the 1970s by the Donaldson family and they have always striven to grow their grapes in the most environmentally friendly way possible. The vineyard as a matter of fact has been certified “sustainable” by the New Zealand Sustainable Viticultural program and the family takes every step to ensure that they use as many natural methods as possible to get rid of pests and diseases rather then using herbicides and other chemical interventions.
The 2008 Encore Noble is made from 100% botrytized Riesling grapes. Botrytis is a natural fungus that causes the grapes to rot; however, it’s called the “noble rot” because it causes the grapes to shrivel and concentrate their juices into a sweet, sweet nectar while still retaining the all-important acidity that’s needed to save the wine from becoming a flabby glass of grape juice. A beautiful golden colour, the wine was met with much anticipation around the dinner table. On the nose, it had an intense honeyed nose with lots of toasty, ripe white fruit notes. A rich and lush wine, bursting with sherbert and dried apricot and white peach flavours. A luscious wine, it matched very well with the subtle flavours of the stem ginger ice cream,a well integrated food and wine match.
The Pegasus Bay Encore Noble 2008 Riesling was paired with dessert at The Modern Pantry but is available online and from independent wine merchants.