I was lucky enough to be invited to a tasting of prestige wines held at the marvellous Corrigans restaurant (I was too busy enjoying the food to remember to take any photos, sorry).
The occasion was a tasting of recent vintages of Craggy Range, one of the exponents of really top class wines from unique terroirs from the new world, in this case New Zealand. Whilst many wine drinkers might think that the concept of single vineyard, terroir-driven wines might be the preserve of the ‘old’ world, this is really not the case. I am seeing more and more of this style of wines reach the UK consumer from places like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and, of course, California which might finally be starting to make people notice – but will they believe it, and more importantly, pay the difference?
I have not been a great fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc recently (I feel that many have lost subtlety and have become hard to drink and enjoy rather than taste) so it was really refreshing to taste some absolutely wonderful crisp, mineral Chardonnays from single vineyards such as Gimblett Gravel, and earthy, dark fruit and herbal Pinot Noirs, such as that from the Calvert vineyards along the famous Felton Road.
What stuck with me was the straight-talking (sometimes achingly frank) style of the winemaker Rod Eastman which was captivating, particularly since it was clearly combined with great wine knowledge. This is exactly the kind of voice I would love to follow online on a blog, or vlog, to educate me about his wines, about this quality of wine, and about his country. Rod was able to give his wines context, which included some critical assessments of particular vintages, grapes and closure decisions (he happens to really hate cork).
You rarely hear brand spokespeople making any such admissions, and it reminds us that as well as being the winemaker, he is still a wine drinker himself, and therefore “one of us” – and someone we can trust. In fact many of those whose views I trust most have managed to combine a professional view with an honest, personal opinion too.
At this time Craggy Range are not active in social media, but I know it is on their agenda (is it not on everyone’s yet?) and I look forward to learning a lot more about the unique terroirs and regions of New Zealand from them one day soon, and I hope the winemakers’ views feature clearly on whatever they do.
Thank you to Warren Adamson for arranging for me to attend.