When I took the Master of Wine practical paper last year (2013); three blind red wines were lined up and we were asked this question:
Wines 3-5 are all from the same country of origin, but from different grape variety(ies). For all three wines:
a) Identify the country of origin. (15 marks)
For each wine:
b) Identify the region of origin and grape variety(ies). (10 marks)
c) Comment on quality in an international context. (10 marks)
Many candidates, including myself tried the wines and found the classic elegance with traditional wine making techniques an indicator of a French origin. The overall quality of the wines (identities revealed below) and subtle complexity paid tribute to what many critics have been saying for years – that the New World is now more than a contender for the Old World in the age worthy premium stakes.
3. Pinot Noir, Peregrine. 2010, Central Otago, New Zealand
4. Te Kahu, Craggy Range. 2010, Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
5. Syrah, Elephant Hill. 2010, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
As you can see Craggy Range’s Te Kahu Wine was featured in that line up; a blend of Bordeaux varieties (69% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec and 9% Cabernet Franc to be exact) the wine is elegant and restrained. In the words of Anthony Rose, wine writer in The Independent in the UK –
“If you don’t know Craggy Range, get acquainted, because I can’t think of another wine company that’s managed to roll Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire and Rhône styles into one harmonious group of wines so successfully.’
Owners Steve Smith MW and Terry Peabody aspired to start a winery where single vineyard wines came to prominence. Their belief is that every piece of land has potential and this can lead to a rainbow of new wines with different qualities and characteristics. They make wines in a traditional way, with subtlety and restraint to the fore. The grapes come from areas suited to that variety; Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes’s Bay on the East coast of NZ is perfect for the Bordeaux reds and especially Syrah. Tuki Tuki Valley has the soil for Chardonnay and this is where most of their Kidnapper’s Chardonnay fruit comes from.
There’s a growing culture on drinking wines that are at the bottom of the price tree. Whilst this is a necessity in many cases, the world of wine is still out there waiting and exciting wines are sitting on the shelf, waiting to be introduced! Craggy Range epitomises this band of mid premium wines which encapsulate terroir, complexity and identity in a bottle. So if you have been feeling that the wines you have sampled of late have left you feeling numb perhaps look at your spending and consider taking it up a level for the odd bottle. Sunday’s ‘raison d’être’ in our house is a good roast and fantastic wines… have you got a special day for those better bottles?
We’re going to be tasting a couple of the Craggy Range wines with Steve Smith MW live on our Google + page. If you’d like to join in, just plug in to the event on our google page at 7pm on Tuesday 21st of October. For those of you who’d like to ask questions and taste wine live on air with us; we’re sending out samples to the first 6 who contact us either on Twitter, Facebook or by email – email@example.com.