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.
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…
This has been lauded by a few critics as the outstanding wine from an outstanding vintage. It may well prove to be the finest bottle of plonk I possess in my cellar:
Craggy Range Le Sol Gimblett Gravels Syrah Hawkes Bay 2013 – $$$+ – Drink 2018-21
I’m not gonna let the vagaries of my cellar affect this wine. It’s getting necked in ’18.
NZ wine critic Raymond Chan sez, “The depth and penetration is a feature. The wine follows a very flowery tannin line, the extraction significant, but refined. The acidity is perfectly integrated, and the palate has tension and drive that carries the flavours to a very long, rich and elegant finish. This is the most beautifully refined ‘Le Sol’ to date. It has elegance and finesse, with intense black fruits, minerals, florals, earth and spices.”