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Lawson's Dry Hills

www.lawsonsdryhills.co.nz

Blenheim cellar door is at the corner of Redwood St and Alabama Rd (PO Box 4020, Blenheim)

Cellar Door: Daily (10-5)

Ph (+64) 3578 7674

vineyard
The original Alabama Rd vineyard (photo courtesy: Lawson Dry Hills)

Lawson's Dry Hills is owned by Ross and Barbara Lawson. Ross has done many things as well as wine - sheep musterering, union organiser, building contracter and more colourfully - an oppossum hunter. Barbara's background was in nursing.

With a top restaurant and well made wine playing to the region's strengths, it is a good place to visit while in Blenheim.

The Lawsons had been Gewurztraminer contract growers at the original Alabama Rd vineyard (in Blenheim) back to 1980.

They started their own Lawson Dry Hills brand in 1992 and now source their grapes from across the region.

In the early days the former winemaker Mike Just built up the winery's reputation with his beautifully floral Gewurztraminer and his zingy Sauvignon Blanc, that was awarded a Gold Medal at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2000. Since 2001 the winemaker has been Marcus Wright who has also worked in France and South America.

Recent vintages of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and now Pinot Noir have shown good fruit depth and complexity with a variety of winemaking techniques applied.

cellar door
Lawson's Dry Hills cellar door (photo courtesy: Lawson Dry Hills)
inside
Inside the cellar door (photo courtesy: Lawson Dry Hills)

Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Purchased: Not ($A28/$NZ25)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016,  partial barrel ferment in seasoned puncheons and barriques, flinty white peach, lemongrass and passionfruit with some garden herb complexity, mealy and savoury with a chalky spine and orange peel nuanced acidity leading to a smoky finish, good line and length  (*****)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Gewürztraminer 2015

Purchased: Not ($A28/$NZ25)

Drink: 2021

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016, Champion Gewurztraminer Trophy  at Air NZ Wine Awards 2016, 8.3 gms/l residual sugar, opulent and off-dry lychee, mango and musk with ginger and cardamom spices and rose petal florals, good persistence and medium term cellaring potential (****1/2)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2014

Purchased: Not ($A34/$A30)

Drink:  2021

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016, Silver Medal at Marlborough Wine Show 2016, Waihopai Valley, mix of 5, 115, 667 and 777 clones, floral and supple red cherry and raspberry with purple flowers, earthy with hint of regional flat sarsaparilla, slinky fine tannins with the sweet  vanilla and char from a variety of French oak treatments (****)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Rose 2016

Purchased: Not ($A22/$NZ20)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2016,  fuchsia pink colour, perfumed and juicy, not strictly off-dry at 4 gms/l residual sugar but very much in a generous strawberry and cream style with a touch of blood orange and garden herbs, dry and minerally finish with good cleansing acidity (****)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Purchased:  Not ($A20/$NZ20)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2014, Pure Silver at Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2014, 8% barrel ferment, fresh, moderately intense and tautly structured passionfruit, lime and lemon grass with basil and nettle notes, minerally with slightly creaminess on the mid-palate, flinty finish with nervy orange peel acidity (****1/2)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2013

Purchased:  Not ($A32)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2014, Pure Gold at Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2014,  Gold Medal at Marlborough Wine Show 2014, clones 5, 115, 114, 667, 777, floral and silky black cherry and raspberry with anise, rose petal, tobacco and sarsparilla notes, medium bodied with good length and some earthy undertones, fairly sweet and charry vanilla/cinnamon oak (****)

Lawson's Dry Hills Pinot Gris 2013

Purchased: Not ($A27/$NZ25)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, Gold Medal at NZ International Wine Show 2013, partial barrel ferment, aromatic and spicy pear and white nectarine with some rose petal florals and a hint of quince, leesy complexity with some glycerolly plumpness but not oily, lively orange peel nuanced acidity and talcy phenolics on the finish, rich and balanced style (****1/2)

Lawson's Dry Hills Gewurztraminer 2012

Purchased: Not ($A27)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, just heading into off-dry territory at 8.2 gms/l residual sugar, bright floral and musk nose, waxy palate with moderate concentration, lychee and rose water with musky spices and blood orange acidity, the fine chalky phenolics are ripe (****)

Lawson's Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Purchased: Not ($A21)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, Silver Medal at Marlborough Wine Show 2013, small portion barrel fermented in seasoned French oak, riper than usual showing more lime, passionfruit and tropical fruit characters and less of the lemon grass/basil, flinty with a spicy orange peel and wet stone finish (****)

Lawson's Dry Hills Chardonnay 2013

Purchased: Not ($A20/$NZ18)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, Silver Medal at Marlborough Wine Show, Mendoza clone, partial malo, lean and crisp lime and nectarine with some matchstick and leesy yeast notes, linear with crunchy orange peel acidity and discrete vanilla/cinnamon oak, attractive quinine minerality (****)

Lawson's Dry Hills Riesling 2012

Purchased: Not ($A20/$NZ18)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, slightly muted citrus blossom and jasmine nose, fairly pure and linear brown lime and apple, not particularly complex although there is a dusting of brown spices, chalky phenolics, fairly dry at 6.6 gms/litre residual sugar (***1/2)

Lawson's Dry Hills Rose 2013

Purchased: Not ($A20/$NZ18)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, Bronze Medal at Marlborough Wine Show 2013, fresh raspberry and watermelon with some garden herb and rose petal notes, verging on confectionary but snaps back to a crisp, dry finish with fine phenolics on the finish (***1/2)

Lawson's Dry Hills White Label Pinot Noir 2011

Purchased: Not ($A21)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Apr 2014, Bronze Medal at Easter Wine Show Awards 2014, smooth, medium bodied cherry and raspberry with flat sarsparilla and dark earth notes, spicy mocha-vanilla oak (***1/2)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Gewurztraminer 2010

Purchased: Not ($A25/$N26)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2013,  Trophy at Marlborough Wine Show 2012, 15% barrel fermented in old French barriques, six months on lees, quite aromatic,  off-dry, good concentration and talcy texture without getting oily, spicy lychees, pear and musk with rose petal florals, touch of residual sugar on mid-palate (9.6 gms/l residual sugar) but finishes dry, fresh orange peel edged acidity, fine phenolics without the bitterness, this well balanced wine is a good, reasonably priced introduction for those who have never been game to try this variety (*****)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Gris 2012

Purchased: Not ($A25/$26 NZ)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2013, 27% barrel fermented in old French barriques, off dry (8.5 gms/l residual sugar), aromatic and rounded nectarine and pear with ginger, white flower and quince notes, creamy lees with fresh orange peel edged acidity, unfolds with a good line to the flinty finish (****1/2)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Purchased: Vintage Cellars, Toorak ($21)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Jan 2013, Bronze at 2012 NZ International Wine Show, as usual there is a small 7% barrel ferment portion in seasoned French barriques, perfumed and vibrant passionfruit, lime and passionfruit with cut grass and basil notes, lively grapefruit rind acidity on the flinty finish, finely textured although seems a little riper and estery than usual (****)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Purchased: Not ($A21)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, Golds at the Air NZ Wine Awards 2011 and Marlborough Wine show 2011, small 7% barrel ferment portion in seasoned French barriques, aromatic and vibrant passionfruit, lime, nectarine and cut grass with basil and green capsicum notes, zesty grapefruit rind acidity on the flinty finish, one of the better balanced and drinkable Marlborough Savvies (****)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Gris 2011

Purchased: Not ($A25)

Drink: 2013

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, 17% barrel ferment portion in seasoned French barriques, rich and creamy nashi pear, red apple and apricot with quince, vanilla and ginger notes, some mealy lees aspects on the mid-palate, dry and flinty finish with chalky orange rind acidity (****)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Noir 2009

Purchased: Not ($A26)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2012, range of clones, supple and sweet red cherry and dark plum with flat sarsparilla and earthy barnyard notes, medium bodied with fine chalky tannins and good length, spicy mocha-vanilla oak (***1/2)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Purchased: Not ($A20)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Nov 2010, there is a small 7% barrel ferment component, balanced and crisp blackcurrant, lime and cut grass with some controlled basil and red capsicum aspects, attractive fine chalky minerality with zesty grapefruit acidity, a consistent good value performer rising above the sea of ordinary SBs now flooding out of the region (****)

Lawson’s Dry Hills Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009

Purchased: Not ($NZ26)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2010, dry and fairly full bodied with pear and dried apricot with musk, smoke and tropical fruit notes, savoury/sweet contrast, subtle vanilla on the finish from the 25% oak, complex by Pinot Gris standards although shows a bit of canned fruit metallicness (***1/2)

Lawson's Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Purchased: Not ($A21)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2009, ripe and vibrant style showing an array of gooseberry and tropical fruit with basil, snowpea and spicy capsicum herbaceousness, grassy with zesty grapefruit acids, good length and intensity, a consistent high performing example of the regional style (****)

Lawson's Dry Hills Gewurztraminer 2008

Purchased: Not ($24)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2009, attractive rose petal, musk and lychee with orange and vanilla nuances, dry, avoids the excessive bitter phenolics of many Kiwi Gewurztraminers (****)

Lawson's Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Purchased: Acland Cellars, St, Kilda ($A20)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2008, vibrant grassy gooseberry with tangy blackcurrant and tropical fruit sweetness, some barrel ferment texture has only slightly muted the intensity, capsicum and fresh basil notes, tingly and zesty mineral citric acid finish with good length (****)

Lawson's Dry Hills Pinot Gris 2006

Purchased: Not ($A23)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2007, pear and musc, creamy barrel ferment palate with a touch of apricot and white pepper, lemon citrus and delicate vanilla oak hints (***1/2)

Lawson's Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Purchased: Not ($A20)

Drink: 2007

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2007, pungent grassy gooseberry backbone with crunchy grapefruit zing on top, underlying passionfruit and paw paw sweetness with some fresh basil notes, vibrant acid finish (***1/2)

Lawson's Dry Hills Pinot Noir 2003

Purchased: Not ($A35)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2007, from a variety of clones from four vineyards, black cherry and plum with underlying barnyard and mushroom features, light-medium bodied with savoury and black pepper complexity, fine-grained tannins, reminiscent of typical Yarra Yalley style (***1/2)

Lawson's Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2004

Purchased: Not ($A20)

Drink: 2006

(GXY) Tastings: Oct 2005, pungent grassy gooseberry with brisk grapefruit, underlying passionfruit, lime and paw paw sweetness with some fresh basil notes, slightly sweaty musk, vibrant acid finish (***1/2)