Lawson’s Dry Hills was established in 1992 by Ross and Barbara Lawson after being growers since 1981. Their first wine was Gewurztraminer produced from their Alabama Road property after being told that the winery they usually supplied no longer wanted Gewurztraminer. Since then Lawsons has developed into one of Marlborough’s best. In 2001 Lawsons took the lead in the screwcap initiative and in 2002 they were the first in New Zealand to completely change to screw caps. They are a member of the the “Family of Twelve’ wineries that includes the likes of Kumeu River, Neudorf, Ata Rangi, Felton Road, Villa Maria, Pegasus Bay.

Tonight winemaker Marcus Wright showed us through the range looking at the wines in pairs of mainly Reserve and Pioneer Wines, showing and contrasting these.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2015 $15.99

Like most Marlborough wineries, it is the Sauvignon Blanc that forms the basis of the business and Marcus is justly proud of theirs. There is plenty of flavour concentration – a core of passionfruit pulp, green melon, pithy citrus fills the palate. A winner of several Gold medals, this is an excellent Sauvignon Blanc.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015 $25.99

A bit bigger, richer with the 15% Barrel Ferment adding complexity and a hint of smokiness. Green fruits, sage, and flowering broom. Gold medal winner Decanter World Wine Awards. A serious style – one of the best Sauvignons in the shop at present.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Gris 2015 $18.99

Lawsons Pinot Gris is always rated as one of Marlborough’s best. As Marcus explained, they take no shortcuts, treating the vines just as they do Gris cousin, Pinot Noir. Bunch thinning, green crop thin resulting in a low crop level to get the fruit concentration they require. The result is plenty of fruit flavour that is not normally found in Pinot Gris. The wine making adds barrel fermentation in older oak with extended lees aging. Spicy baked pears just about sums up the taste note with a smidgeon of sweetness (8gms) and good acidity to balance.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pioneer Pinot Gris 2015 $25.99

The Pioneer range of wines are small (tiny) batches of individual parcels made to reflect unique sites and only produced in the best vintages. From the Barnsley vineyard, the vines are meticulously tended. The grapes were picked around two weeks after the Estate Pinot Gris then fully barrel fermented. The very ripe, shrivelled (some with botrytis) grapes give a wine that has more sweetness (14.5 gms/rs and alcohol 14.5%) A full-on, luscious, Alsatian style.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Gewürztraminer 2015 $19.99

Gewürztraminer was the initial reason for the existence of Lawson’s Dry Hills. Ross and Barbara planted Gewürztraminer vines around their home in 1982 when they were growing contract fruit. When they were told in 1992 that their Gewürztraminer fruit was no longer required, they set up their own winery and the rest, as they say, is history. The fruit for this comes from both the old home vineyard 30+ year old vines and from the 14 year old vines of the Woodward vineyard.   Rose petal, musk, Turkish delight, spice. Yes.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pioneer Gewurztraminer 2014 $25.99

From just 6 rows off the home vineyard – a very specialized, small production wine. Golden colour indicates the richness of the style. Shrivelled botrytis fruit gives a sweeter wine, with lower acidity, and oily texture that coats the mouth.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Chardonnay 2014 $22.99

Barbara Lawson loves Chardonnay and it is from that Lawsons’ have merged as very serious producers. This is no shrinking violet. Crème caramel, sizzled butter, spice, citrus, meal, toast.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Chardonnay 2015 – pre release

Marcus brought down the as yet to be released 2015 Reserve. As a comparison, this is a bit richer and more forward than the 2014 with an upfront appeal and  a texture that seems to ‘hang in the mid palate’. We look forward to its release in a couple of months.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 $23.99

It seems that when you are the underdog, as is the case with Marlborough Pinot Noir, you just try a bit harder. Lawsons may be best known for their aromatic wines, but their Pinot Noirs are very, very good and the Reserve is one of the best values around. From two vineyards in the Waihopai Valley. The floral notes on the nose give way to dark red fruits and a sauve, plush texture.

Lawson’s Dry Hills Pioneer Pinot Noir 2013 $32.99

Lawson’s ferment their Pinot Noir wine separately by block and clone. This is a barrel selection of those given extra time in oak.