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View from the cellar door
Steve Smith MW, the winemaking director
The famed Gimblett Gravels vineyard
A little background
Terroir is an elusive and romantic French term, frequently used to describe the inherent characters of soil, climate and culture, as reflected in a wine or the food from a particular vineyard or region. Matt Kramer of Wine Spectator defined terroir as: “A sense of somewhereness.” It’s no coincidence that Craggy Range’s award-winning restaurant is named Terroir.
This simple philosophy, to make wines that speak more of where they come from than any other, is what drives Craggy Range's entire systems of farming and winemaking. It is a philosophy like no other: to select and source the very best vineyards in the country, plant them with only the vines that are perfectly suited to that terroir, bottle them all as single estate wines.
One to watch
Craggy Range is a winery to watch. Established in 1998, it quickly developed a reputation for quality and consistency. The winery is focused on the production of single vineyard wines, mainly grown on its own Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough vineyards. Its wine-making philosophy is based on careful vineyard selection and management, with an emphasis on quality at all stages of the production process.
Hawke’s Bay, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island and to the south of Gisborne, is New Zealand’s leading wine and food tourism destination. It’s also a region steeped in history. The cities of Napier and Hastings were all but destroyed by an earthquake in 1931, and rebuilt in the prevailing art deco and spanish mission styles. Hawke’s Bay combines lots of sun and a temperate climate with an attractive rural landscape, and an abundance of good food and dining opportunities. Many of New Zealand’s best wineries are located in Hawke’s Bay, and are within easy reach of visitors. See our 2010 New Zealand Trip Notes for accommodation, dining and wine-tasting options in the area.
New Zealand has long been famed for its stunning unspoilt landscape, and its small population, isolated location and agricultural economy have earned the country a “clean, green” image. New Zealand grape growers and winemakers aim to keep it that way by protecting the environmental integrity of their wine production. To this end, Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) provides the framework for companies to continually work towards improving all aspects of their performance in terms of environmental, social and economic sustainability in both the vineyard and the winery. Craggy Range is an SWNZ Accredited Winery and Vineyard.
The Craggy Range philosophy is to expose the character of the place via purity and focus. Equally, altering the fruit or wine via the additives and treatments available to conventional winemakers is not an option. Single Vineyard wine-making only resonates in the bottle if this purist, singular mindset prevails in the cellar.
It is Hawke’s Bay, along with Waiheke Island in the Auckland region, which has perhaps contributed most to New Zealand's reputation as a serious, world-class producer of the varieties. Wines from these warmer climate regions are full-bodied and redolent of lush, ripe berry flavours.
In the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing District in Hawke’s Bay, Craggy Range has 100 hectares that were destined to be a quarry. These stony soils - located away from the cooling breeze of the South Pacific - create a warm environment, the only part of the country that is as warm and dry as the great French regions of Bordeaux and Hermitage.
Tasting Notes: Very dark colour. Aromas of dust, cedar, violets and dark cherry fruit combine for a complex bouquet. The palate is structurally firm, but also awash with pure black fruits of plum and boysenberry. This wine is full bodied, but still tightly wound in youthful structure.
Food Pairing: Merlot has less intense flavours and a softer structure. It suits a broader range of food types including leaner meats and more savoury dishes, especially stews and casseroles. Craggy Range Merlot could also be served with beef fillet and hollandaise sauce.
Wines from Martinborough have earned the highest international accolades and probably the loudest acclaim for Pinot Noir in New Zealand. Soils here consist of deep stony and silt loams over gravel, helping to produce Pinot Noir with strong, ripe plum flavours and great concentration.
In Martinborough, Craggy Range has a spectacular vineyard on Te Muna Road, home to the majority of its Pinot Noir vines, planted on their own special type of different rocky soil.
Tasting Notes: Deep blackish red. Dark brooding fruit aromas of black cherry, boysenberry with florals, truffle and tar. The palate is silkily structured, with layered fine tannins giving a texture of silk and rose petals. Flavours of the same black fruits and florals, backed with mushroom, bark, fennel and other spices. Dense yet elegant and poised. The finish gradually unwinds revealing bright red berry and violets.
Food Pairing: With its rich flavours and soft tannins, New Zealand Pinot Noir suits a wide range of dishes. Lean meats, such as veal, venison or turkey, are a good match with Pinot Noir. Craggy Range Pinot Noir would also be stunning with game birds, lamb, or porcini mushrooms.