Spy Valley Riesling

Riesling grapes are carefully selected from the best vines in our Marlborough vineyard, gently pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks to give intense floral and citrus characters. The wine is fruit-driven in style, elegant and delicate. The bouquet is typically intense fresh lime, green apple and floral aromas. The palate is vibrant and elegant with racy acid in a dry style.

Tasting Notes


New Zealand




Johnson Estate



100% Riesling



Harvest Date

28 March - 20 Aprl 2011

Brix at Harvest

20.9 - 23


Adam McCone


Shallow and stony soils with overlying sandy loam. Some Clay.


Paul Bourgeois and Kathy-Lee Sowman


Estate Vineyard blocks were picked at several ripeness levels and fermented separately in tanks and old oak vessels.


Pale Gold


Ginger, lime and floral notes with a hint of flint.


Full and rich with ripe citrus and wet-stone flavour spectrum, the finish is persistent and dry.

Release Date

September 2011


3 - 7 years


Residual Sugar:

8.9 g/L




7.7 g/L


12.5% v/v


Blue-Gold Award - 11 Spy Valley Riesling - Sydney International Wine Competition, 2012

Silver Medal - 11 Spy Valley Riesling - Decanter World Wine Awards 2012

Silver Medal - Best in Class - 11 Spy Valley Riesling - International Wine & Spirits Competition 2011

"Light lemony yellow colour. Lemon Sherbet aromas, a flick of anise and lime juice on the nose. Bright, sassy palate with hints of stem ginger, lemon/lime concentration at the core, giving a delicacy and precision that is exceptional. A very lovely wine." 

5 Stars -- 11 Spy Valley Riesling - Raymond Chan Wine Reviews

100% Riesling from the ‘Johnson Estate’ fermented to 12.5% alc. and 8.9 g/L rs, a portion in seasoned oak.  Bright, light lemon-straw yellow with green hues, this has a softly fresh bouquet of lime fruit, yellow florals, with notes of sherbet and honey.  Dry to taste, the palate has concentrated flavours of limes with hints of honey, sherbet and perfumed talc characters, the richness balanced by crisp acidity, resulting in soft, and very fine textures which lead to a sustained, dry, minerally finish.  This is a dry and finely textured Riesling with an intriguingly rich array of aromatics and flavours that is drinking well already.  The wine will match Asian cuisine over the next 4-5+ years.  18.5-/20  

89+ Points - 11 Spy Valley Riesling - Lisa Perrotti-Brown - Wine Advocate, eRobertParker.com

The 2011 Riesling presents lime cordial and lemon pastille notes with hints of grapefruit peel and beeswax. Light bodied and made to an off-dry style (8.9 grams per liter of residual sugar). it has great tension in the mouth and a long zesty finish. Drink it now to 2017+.

One of the themes on the blog for the past couple of weeks has been value -- does a wine offer more to the consumer than it costs? In this, value is not about price, because not all cheap wine delivers value. Sometimes, it's just cheap.

It's also worth noting that a wine doesn't have to be cheap to offer value. Yes, it's more difficult for an expensive wine to do this, given that too many expensive wines are expensive because their reason for being is to be expensive. But it is certainly possible, and it happens more often than I acknowledge here.

One producer who consistently does this is New Zealand's Spy Valley, which as been making $15 and $20 wines that taste like they cost much more for as long as I have been writing about wine. I had one of those sublime, geeky wine experiences with the sauvignon blanc last year, and it's not even my favorite Spy Valley wine. 

That would be the riesling ($18, purchased, 12.5%), which is as enjoyable as it is difficult to find. I only see it in Dallas every couple of years, given the vagaries of the three-tier system, so when I do see it, I buy it, even if it's a previous vintage. The producer is good enough so that doesn't matter.

The 2011 didn't let me down. It's not riesling like most consumers know it -- no sweet tea-like sugar or fruit flavors that taste like they came out of a can. Instead, it's a dry riesling, complex with layers of flavor that range from petrol on the nose (a classic riesling characteristic) to citrus and tropical in the front and middle. It's still fresh and almost aggressive after almost two years in bottle, which is a sign that it's only going to get better with age.

Serve this to someone who doesn't think they like riesling, and see if they change their mind. Highly recommended, and well worth the money.