Craggy Range Te Kahu Hawkes Bay 2015 – $$
It’s late at night. L is away at a Chiro conference in Melbourne, LG is in bed asleep, the boys are with their father, and I am sifting at the the computer, on the internet, which turns into blogging. I’m blogging about wine, while drinking this wine. Very meta.
Dark plum red. 14% alc.
The wine is showing somewhat thin and oddly structured on the nose on opening. Perhaps it’s a keeper and needs time?
Sure enough, it softened on standing in the glass, filling out and opening up, but still showed thin. There is fruit there as a backbone, with spice and heat, grunty tannin and dark cocoa, but it isn’t as rich or dense as the ’13 or ’14. A disappointment, this bottle.
It does show distinctive terroir, so I have marked it up
Commended 85 points
L and I went to the wonderful Matterhorn for the annual dinner with fellow members of the Magnum Society. Encouraged to raid our cellars for suitable bottles of wine to bring along for sharing, we would be assured of a taste or two of some very good drops from fellow diners. And so it was.
I brought a brace of older Craggy Range wines, along with an aperitif Prosecco. The Les Beaux Cailloux Chardonnay 2011 was amazing and totally delicious. It lived up to GK’s billing as one of NZs best Chards. The Aroha Pinot Noir 2007 was less good. It had not aged well, and was showing thin and confected.
Of the wines I got to taste, the Volnays stood out as very good. I don’t remember much of the rest. I must say one table had a very impressive selection of Gevrey Chambertins. Not jealous, much.
The meal was fabulous, and I hope we eat there again next time.
Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough 2016 – $$
Greenish pale straw. 13% alc.
Nose of apples and limes, cut grass.
A grainy texture to the lean citrus fruit flavours. Dry. A restrained savvy.
Recommended – 88 points
Craggy Range Te Muna Road Riesling Martinborough 2014 – $$
Pale gold colour. 11.5% alc.
Steely cut-thru on the nose, crisp and ticklish, with scents of lemon and apple and a bit of clover honey.
Off dry. Austere and linear, with crisp citrus fruit flavours, short and sharp. Young and somewhat one-dimensional, but good for the heat of a summer’s afternoon, something that this season has been in short supply of.
Commended – 84 points
L and I visited Craggy Range at their winery and cellar door situated beside dramatic Te Mata Peak near Havelock North in Hawkes Bay. We enjoyed one of the best and most entertaining and informative tasting and presentations I have ever attended. Our host was enthused and engaged and really knowledgeable. What he had to say as we looked at their wines was incredibly informative, and really encouraged me to buy up large!
Craggy Range Sophia Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$$+ – drink 2020-2029. This is a gorgeous merlot-predominant blend. Powerful. At the top of the game.
Craggy Range Le Sol Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$$+ – drink 2020-2029. An incredible Syrah. One of NZ’s finest wines.
Craggy Range Te Muna Four Martinborough 2014 – $$$$+ – drink 2020-2029. A delicious combination of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Gewürztraminer co-fermented to make a single blended white wine in the Alsatian style.
We tasted though their latest releases of Syrah, Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Aroha Pinot Noir (and a library wine!), and Riesling, and bought a few extra bottles to enjoy back in Wellington from the Fridge. The Savvy in particular was fantastic.
Craggy Range SV Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$
I reckon that the 2014 vintage in the Bay was just as good for Chardonnay as the much-heralded 2013 vintage. And this wine is a good reference point for that claim.
Medium brilliant straw colour. 13% alc. From Te Awanga near Cape Kidnappers.
Toasty oak and mealy aromas. Ripe golden stonefruit. Good density. Elegance and lightness of touch.
Plenty of ripe fruit flavours, extract and sweetness on entry. The citrus freshness you need to see in a good modern oaked Chardonnay is balanced and provides the necessary structure on the mid-palate to avoid flabbiness and bland-ness. Good length in the finish, and no bitterness that might indicate a lack of extract. A delicious and rewarding drop.
A trois of aromatics this month:
Craggy Range Aroha Pinot Noir Martinborough 2014 – $$$+ – Drink 2019-2024. Tasted at an instore presentation, and highly rated – worth the splurge.
Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$ – Drink 2019-2024. A long-standing favourite of mine, & rated by GK at 18.5pts.
Felton Road Bannockburn Riesling Central Otago 2015 – $$$ – Drink 2025. A second bottle secured for the Long Haul.
All bottles stored under the careful watch of cellarmouser Mimi. Don’t give me that look, puss….
2014 Aroha Pinot Noir, Le Sol Syrah and Sophia Melot Cabernet
I was pretty excited to read about a small pop-up tasting being hosted by Regional Wines to celebrate the release of the 2014 Craggy Range prestige wines – the Aroha, Le Sol and Sophia. Craggy Range is known for great wines, some of which I have collected in the Pool Room already, so I headed over to where winemaker Matt Stafford was on hand to take me through the wines.
It was just the three reds we looked at, starting with the Pinot Noir Craggy Range Aroha Te Muna Road Martinborough 2014 (14% $121). As with all the wines here I did not make any direct notes (it felt too gauche to do that) so I just tried to remember my impressions as I went along…we then tasted the Syrah Craggy Range Le Sol Hawkes Bay 2014 (14.5% $121), and finished up with the Merlot Cab blend Craggy Range Sophia Hawkes Bay 2014 (14% $96).
The wines all looked very aromatic and very fine. The fruit quality was there in all of them, the Aroha in particular was looking great and very varietal, with lovely red cherry fruit, and showing the developed rewarding typicity I am starting to see from Te Muna sites. The Le Sol, a much-lauded, and famous, NZ Syrah, was drinking a bit younger and less closed than its ’13 predecessor, with much beauty and grace (I did confess to Matt that I am kinda bewildered about NZ Syrahs, and am finding it hard to get my head around them). Meanwhile, the Sophia was showing much of the density and finesse you would expect of a top HB red blend but perhaps not as deep as I would want, if I have to quibble, but still a very good wine…
I would likely score all these wines in the low to mid nineties if I had the time and opportunity to do so…I liberated an Aroha for the Pool Room so I will see how it looks in five years time…
In keeping with the evening, I also bought bought a (much cheaper) Craggy Range Te Kahu 2013 for the home table…lovely, intense dark fruityness, dense & aromatic…didn’t disappoint. I have a couple more bottles Below Stairs which I will look at properly from 2018 onwards…
From the Cellar: Craggy Range SV Syrah Gimblett Gravels 2010 – $$
Inky plum. 13.5%.
A Geoff Kelly recommendation and it shows. Wow. Gorgeously floral. Dark fruits and pepper intense and powerful. Smells ripe and inviting and delightful.
In the mouth it is full and so flavoursome. Lovely pepper kick at the back. Sweet round fruit at the front. Very northern Rhone. Dense Fine tannins.
This so convinces me to hold on to our Syrahs for a min 5 years each. Hopefully the mice don’t to take a liking to any more of my wine bottle labels…
A couple of gold medal Marlborough Savvies to put to bed for a couple of years sleep-in, and a wine that Raymond Chan scored 20/20 from the “vintage of a generation”:
Hãhã Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 – $ – Drink 2015-2017. Gold Medal Royal Easter Show
Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ Merlot Cabernet Gimblett Gravels 2013 – $$$+ – Drink 2018-2023
Here is what Raymond writes of this wine: “Dark, deep, near inpenetrable black red colour with youthful purple hues. The nose is sensationally vibrant with powerful and packed aromas of very ripe black berry and black plum fruits along with a subtle cassis layer. The aromatics feature dark red, violet and black florals melded with iron-earth, minerals and tar. This has essence aromas, and the nose is extremely primary in expression, but the varietal detail is already apparent. Medium-full bodied the palate is extremely rich and lusciously succulent with bright, ripe black berried and plum fruits with currants and iron-earth, with lifted florals. Beautiful acidity lends vibrancy and vitality and the mouthfeel is alive with energy and tension. The acidity shows clarity and the palate has drive and linearity. The tannins are powdery and refined, building to provide structure in proportion, balance and harmony. This has underlying power with great elegance. This ‘Sophia’ has remarkable vitality and life, with vibrant primary fruit, great richness and structure. It will age 15+ years. A blend of 62% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot from the ‘Gimblett Gravels vineyard, fermented to 13.8% alc., the wine aged 19 months in 42% new French oak barriques. 20.0/20 May 2015.”
For more please see http://www.raymondchanwinereviews.co.nz