Vino

Joelle Thomson's online wine guide

Category: Martinborough

Craggy’s new top shelf reds launch…

It was frosty, clear, cold and intense start to the week at Craggy Range in Hawke’s Bay, but in the upstairs wine lab at Craggy Range, the following trio of reds shined a warmer light on the third strong New Zealand vintage in a row – 2015. Like all top shelf reds, this trio have been mellowing in barrel prior to their official release onto shop shelves and into our glasses this week.

Craggy’s top trio of 2015 reds

Craggy Range’s new Prestige Collection reds launched in June this year and represents the third consecutive strong vintage in a row, says winemaker Matt Stafford, who says yields were down 50% for 2015 Craggy Range Aroha Te Muna Pinot Noir and also, to a lesser extent, for 2015 Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah, due to a cool start to vintage but a warm dry summer resulted in these beauties.

New Craggy Sophia

 2015 Craggy Range Sophia $115

Three grapes vie for attention in this top new red – made from 73% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Cabernet Franc, all contributing body and fruit weight. The soft richness comes from the hefty Merlot component while the two Cabernets provide dark fruity notes.

The 2015 Craggy Range Sophia was aged for 19 months in French oak (45% new).

It drinks… well right now but will further age for 9 to 10 years; possibly longer.

 

New Le Sol Syrah

2015 Craggy Range Le Sol $135

A cool spring provided plenty of nervous anticipation to the Craggy Range wine team but a warm dry spell in mid to late January saw temperatures rise over 30 degrees Celcius and the result is this lovely wine that’s intense in every way from its deep purple colour to its full body, high but balanced tannins and acidity and its long, smooth finish.

The 2015 Le Sol was aged for 17 months in French oak (30% new oak).

It drinks… well right now and has strong aging potential for 9 to 10 years +.

 

New Pinot

2015 Craggy Range Aroha Pinot Noir $135

First made in 2006 and produced every year since, with the exception of 2010, this Martinborough Pinot Noir is made 100% from grapes grown in the Te Muna area; 9 kilometres west of the township. A higher proportion of whole bunches are used than in the past – now 50%, which add what Stafford describes as a spicy note. And there has also been a significant reduction in the use of new oak (now at 30%).

The 2015 Aroha was aged for 9 months in French oak (30% new).

It drinks… well now with smooth full body, and can age for 9-10 years.

 

These wines are in store now at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington where I spend a portion of my week working on tastings and all manner of other fascinating, tasty wine related things.

Meet the maker… Colere wines…

He uses unknown grapes to make uncommonly good (and sustainable) wines with ancient artwork on the labels and modern-with-a-twist flavours in the bottles… Meet Julian Richards and his new(ish) wine brand – Colere.

Richards was born and bred… in the South Island and remains there at his home base in North Canterbury (New Zealand’s most under rated wine region, in my view, but that’s another story).

He has worked everywhere from… the vineyard to the cellar floor of wineries, and his brand Colere is a new opportunity for him to curate, create and cultivate interesting and different wines made from mostly mainstream grape varieties and often from grapes that need to find a home – hence, the word sustainable in the headline of this story. That said, Richard’s is a pretty big fan of Pinot Blanc (a man after my own heart then). Even though there is a scant amount of this interesting French white grape still growing in New Zealand – a mere 29 hectares – he is a big champion of it. So much so that his latest one is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, which adds strong commercial appeal (since ‘Gris’ is better known), and this wine was then aged for a massive four years in old oak barrels, where it softened, gained savoury flavours and yet retains its varietal stamp of freshness (citrusy flavours) and white fruit (pear).

The word Colere is Latin… and means to farm, cultivate and worship. It’s a complex message that Richards wants to convey in wines that remain, importantly, extremely affordable. It’s incredibly refreshing to see a new wine brand like this one, which champions old artwork on the labels (it’s from the early 1800s and it really is a story for another day, so let’s park that for now).

Inside the bottles, the wines are modern with a twist… These are not orange wines and Richards is not pigeon holing them under any  ‘natural’ banners, either. He came into Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington this week (where I spend a portion of my working week on tastings and education) to taste his new wines with a group of us.

The wines speak come from… vineyards around Marlborough and Martinborough and, as you read this, he is in the process of making a quirky new take on a traditional French blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend from North Canterbury. Quantities will be small and it is from the 2017 vintage. I look forward to trying it as I love the outstanding North Canterbury Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend  from Pegasus Bay. But I digress.

Try these… 

Big beautiful Chardonnay

2011 Colere Kerner Marlborough Chardonnay 

Big, buttery and beautifully crisp – this Chardonnay was made from grapes treated like royalty – they were hand picked, whole bunch pressed, native yeast fermented in barrels for 8 months and then further aged in tanks…

Tastes of… tangy citrus fruit with big buttery and creamy mouth feel; like big fresh crisp Chablis with body to burn.

Silky seductive Pinot Noir 

2014 Colere Pinot Noir Wairarapa 

This new Martinborough Pinot Noir is bright ruby with juicy flavours of red plumd and cherries, with succulent acidity adding a long finish. A big elegant beauty from Te Muna – 9 kms east of Martinborough township.

Check out Colere winemaker Julian Richard’s new website: Colere.co.nz

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