This wine was slipped surreptitiously into a blind tasting lineup with several others of the same varietal provenance. That's a good thing I feel as the wine is tasted with no preconceptions, other than you know what the grape variety is, and in this case, Pinot Gris. If you have checked out my blog entries
this week, you will read that I'm excited about Pinot Gris once again. Well, actually, I've been quite positive about this variety for a while because some deliciously tasty and very drinkable, food-friendly wines are being made. But what's even more exciting is that some recently released wines from vintage 2009, and the current vintage 2010, seem to be converting even the most outspoken of the anti-Pinot Gris brigade.
I rated several wines 5 stars, most notably Neudorf Moutere 2010, Spy Valley Marlborough 2009 and Mahi Marlborough 2009 – and I mustn't forget the benchmark Dry River Martinborough Pinot Gris 2009, reviewed earlier this year.
But this week's Wine of the Week is none of the above. In fact it is a debut effort for the variety from this fairly new label. And when you discover that it's a Kevin Judd creation, the reason for its excellence lies right there.
Greywacke Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009 is clear and bright in its light gold hue. The bouquet has scents of pear, peach and vanilla and perhaps a hint of nut too. It's vibrant and spicy to the taste while maintaining texturally complexity with nectarine and apricot fruit adding to the richness and tropical fruit emerging on the long, lifted honeysuckle finish. It's long in flavour with a zing of underlying freshness and a smidgen of botrytis adding to the complexity, perhaps. "Quite yum on the finish," I wrote.
We saved the leftover wine from the tasting and matched it successfully to a slow-cooked (3+ hours) hock of pork on a bed of sliced red onions and sliced oranges, with fennel and ground coriander for seasoning and a bottle of Mac's sour apple brew.
Kevin Judd sourced the fruit for this wine from the Wrekin Terrace vineyard in the Brancott Valley. He used two clones – the long-established Mission Clone dating, it is believed, back to the 1850s in New Zealand, and another clone (and one I've never heard of before) called Selection Ovaille, which actually has been in New Zealand for some thirty-plus years.
Half of the grapes were fermented in stainless steel with cultured yeast while the other half went into old French oak barriques to ferment on its own with indigenous yeasts. The 8.5 grams per litre of residual sugar left in the wine makes it technically 'medium' in style, and the low acidity (5.5 g/l) and the moderately high alcohol (14.5%) makes it seem quite heady and luscious. But there's a savoury element to the wine that keeps the sweetness in check and makes it seem almost 'off dry'.
This is a gorgeous wine not only in taste but also in presentation. The label is one of Kevin's own genius photo creations – a variation of a corkscrew grapevine tendril originally published in his book, The Colour of Wine. Actually genius is the word here – genius photographer, genus winemaker.
Expect to pay around $29 a bottle in retail and with Negociants as the distributor it will be available in top-end restaurants – although you could be paying nearer $29 a glass in some. I'd rather have a bottle so find out more from www.greywacke.com.
© Sue Courtney
30 Nov 2010