If Charlie Thompson, a confectionary salesman, hadn’t (purportedly) dropped his tray of samples in front of a potential customer, thereby jumbling up all the sweets, liquorice allsorts would not have been invented. A serendipitous moment that gave birth to the finest of all confectionary. *
Unfortunately it seems that jumbled up wines are not so popular. True field blends are relatively rare, Austria’s Wiener Gemischter Satz, or Deiss’s Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru perhaps the best known. In a world of single varietally labelled wines, blends (whether made in the vineyard or winery) are regarded with a whiff of distrust. Here in NZ, Te Whare Ra’s Toru a notable exception.
So hats off to Craggy Range who have released 2014 Te Muna Four $42.95, a field blend of riesling, pinot gris, pinot blanc and gewurzrtraminer.
I asked Matt Stafford, CR’s chief winemaker, for his motivation in making this wine and apparently Deiss’s wine was a reference point. Matt pointed out that as Martinborough can experience different spring weather patterns each year so the resulting wines are very vintage dependent, eg. 2012 = coolish, 2013 = warm etc. He describes the wine as “our chameleon as I am always surprised what people see in the wine each time we taste it and like the chameleon changing its colours based on its social being, I think the way a person feels at the time will determine whether they view it as being flamboyant or austere”.
I must have been in a reticent social setting when I tasted the wine because I thought it restrained rather than flamboyant. My tasting note reads “gently scented, orange blossom, with a dusting of ginger spice. Just a very light touch of sweetness. Can see some spice from the gewurz, baked pear from the pinot gris but not certain I can see pinot blanc’s influence. An appealing, softly textural wine”.
Anyone who has had Deiss’s wine knows it can be a huge beastie that needs wrestling out of the glass, a honker in the very best sense. If anything I’d like to see Matt experiment and push the envelope just a bit further to give his wine a touch more palate weight and texture.
But, for a committed Alsace fan like myself, an interesting, attractive wine for sure.
* I’m talking about Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts which you can buy in NZ (for a king’s ransom) not the imitation brittle Pascall’s kind that are no longer produced. Thank goodness.