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Notes from New Zealand, 2011

text © 2011 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on New Zealand 2011.


kevin judd Kevin Judd is probably the most famous winemaker in New Zealand, not just as the man who built the reputation of Cloudy Bay, but as an internationally-renowned wine and vineyard photographer. We met up in Gibb's vineyard restaurant on a balmy February evening, a regular haunt of all Marlborough's winemakers for its terrific food and home to a permanent exhibition of Kevin's photography. Just a few days after our get-together I was shocked to read that Gibb's had burned to the ground in a fire started by a faulty motor in a refrigerator. Kevin tells me: "Naturally the fire led to a considerable loss, both in terms of losing our best restaurant and about NZ$5000 worth of framed photos and canvases."

On a happier note, Kevin launched Greywacke to huge critical acclaim (including a wine-pages Wine of the Week) in 2010, though in fact he had registered the name in 1993, describing the project as "the fulfilment of a long held dream." It is a négociant operation, with winery space borrowed from Dog Point Vineyards for now. He wants to grow sales of all of his seven wines, though says he has "a certain limit in mind where I knows he wants to stop." From a standing start, he is already in 12 markets.

Kevin was born in England and grew up in Australia where he studied winemaking at Roseworthy College and first made wine at Reynella. He moved to New Zealand in 1983 and soon became the founding winemaker at Cloudy Bay, a pivotal role during which he directed the company's first 25 vintages. He is proud of his history, but I wonder if, like a famous musician revered for an early album but wanting to move on, he ever feels that it holds him back. But he is pragmatic and knows that is an enviable calling card that not only opens doors, but generates enormous goodwill with the industry and wine drinking public. A wry smile crosses his face fleetingly when he says "With all the press Greywacke has had, I have only had one review so far where the words 'Cloudy Bay' did not appear. I'm happy being reviewed in context or comparison with Cloudy Bay, but just pleased to see Greywacke standing on its own feet."

the wines

Greywacke is imported into the UK by Liberty. See all Greywacke wines on wine-searcher.

Greywacke, Sauvignon Blanc 2010
A terrific expression of Marlborough Sauvignon, with huge intensity on the nose and palate. Aromas of fresh cut limes and leafy green herbs precede a palate that is hugely concentrated, with a deal of mid-palate weight and texture, but the vibrantly expressive flavours powering through. Acidity is intense too, leaving this clean and dry and with real persistence. 90/100.

Greywacke, Wild Sauvignon 2009
Wild fermented with native years, 100% in barrel. Kevin says this one took a year to finish fermentation. Huge brazil nut French oak nose with masses of green fig and bold, tropical fruit. The palate has that huge presence too, the super-sweet fruit set against a decisive core of minerality, hints of coffee and charry oak just adding a supporting layer beneath. 93/100.

Greywacke, Riesling 2009
With a modest 11.5% ABV this delicate Riesling from a single vineyard is made in a just off-dry style. It has a peach down softness on the nose, but a touch of flint too and a hint of sweet pepper. On the palate the teasing sweetness is scythed through by lemony, zesty fruit and acidity into a moderately long finish. 89/100.

Greywacke, Pinot Gris 2009
An attractively aromatic nose with a touch of dried apricot and a slight yeastiness, with a lime peel freshness and some spice too. The palate is just off dry, with lots of juicy, lemony, orange and citrus brightness that really punches through to leave it dry and savoury, tangy and really appetising. 90/100.

Greywacke, Pinot Noir 2009
Primarily from around Brancott, handpicked, sorted, partial whole bunch, wild yeast ferment and 100% new oak. Beautifully ripe and sweet, with density and chocolaty and coffee aromas, but not heavy or charry. Deliciously silky on the palate too, with long, sweet fruit and good acidity, tannins fine. 91/100.

Greywacke, Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2009
Made from fruit Kevin discovered hanging late in a vineyard he was driving past, this is only 12.5% ABV, and has 90g/l of residual sugar. Great smoky bacon glimpse on this, some lychee and grapefruity freshness too, but this is about spice and luscious apricot on the palate, a lovely mouth-feel and really fresh and orangy. 92/100. 12.5%

Greywacke is imported into the UK by Liberty. See all Greywacke wines on wine-searcher.

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