This is a story of a wine that is named after a rock. Greywacke rock. It's the grey sedimentary rock that forms the backbone of mountain ranges in the north and south islands and is often decorated with thin veins of snow white quartz. It's a rock you quickly learn to recognise in Geology 101 and distinguish from lookalike volcanic-derived andesite by its tight granular composition. It's actually siliceous sandstone and it's hard, which means it erodes slowly. As boulders tumble down the slopes of the mountains, any coarse edges are rounded. As they continue on their journey to become sediments on the alluvial plains they decrease in size to become stones and by the time they form beaches on the coast line they are mostly no bigger than pebble size.
Kevin Judd, winemaker, was wondering around the Wairau Valley one day not long after arriving in Marlborough. There were stones everywhere. He picked one up and felt the smooth, riverworn surface. Someone told him it was greywacke. He liked the name and registered it. When he bought a vineyard he named it after the rock and experimental wines made at Cloudy Bay beared that vineyard name.
Last year Kevin left Cloudy Bay to start his own venture. His vineyard had been sold but he still owed the Greywacke brand name. He decided to make a wine. Not just any wine but a Sauvignon Blanc wine. He approached good friends and former colleagues at Cloudy Bay, James Healy and Ivan Sutherland, owners of Dog Point Vineyard. The vineyard was planted by Ivan in the early days. Somwhere in that vineyard is where the grapes were sourced from and a space was made available in the Dog Point winery for Kevin to craft his first Greywacke wine.
Greywacke Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 has an underpinning of lime and passionfruit to the spectrum of herb flavours that range from earthy sage through to chervil and basil. The colour is lemon gold with a citrine lustre, the texture has a slight pear-like graininess and the acidity is elevated but in balance. There's some complexity from the yeast lees, almost a hint of caramel as if there's been wild yeast (yes there has, with a portion in old barrels). Tropical fruit and stonefruit emerge with some apple/snow pea/capsicum and nettle nuances to the flinty finish and the lime and passionfruit lingering around long after the wine is swallowed. This is nothing like the sweaty, punchy loud styles of Marlborough savvy, it's fleshy and satisfying and one that at least I enjoyed a second glass of.
This screwcapped closed wine has 13.5% alcohol by volume, retail price is just under $26 and the wine should be reasonably available in fine wine retail stores.
The launch of Greywacke coincides with Kevin's new book, 'The Landscape of New Zealand Wine'. Full of stunning wine landscape photographs by the genius Kevin Judd, with text by Bob Campbell.
Find out more from Greywacke website.
© Sue Courtney
7 Dec 2009