New Chief Winemaker Julian Grounds was an inspired if slightly avant-garde choice after the previous sets of steady hands that had driven Craggy’s reputation for very well mannered, classical wines with no edges, with a strong following amongst those who enjoy the slightly old school luxurious vibe of the Prestige Collection. Julian is clearly mindful of the pedigree and weight of expectation attached to the Prestige range, seeking to make changes slowly rather than a lurch into the unknown, but it’s also clear from the wines that he’s brought a new energy.
Veteran Hawke’s Bay winemaker Kate Radburnd has over 35 years of experience, including 26 years as head winemaker of Pask Wines. In 2017 Kate established her own label; Radburnd Cellars, focused on making three wines – chardonnay, syrah and merlot cabernet – that she says represent “my absolute best without compromise.”
Te Mata has a long-established and rather enviable reputation in New Zealand but appear not to rest upon their laurels nor resist change. The past few years have seen the passing of the torch from long-time senior winemaker Peter Cowley to Phil Brodie – a seamless transition given Phil’s near 30-year tenure making wine at Te Mata…
It seems only reasonable that New Zealand’s top wines should command decent prices – this after all is the way of the world. Perhaps we have just become used to our wines being too modestly priced and we should rejoice in the upwards trend. That the three wines have now sold out shows price was no barrier to their fans – indeed, perhaps it was even an enticement?
The recent arrival of a couple of high profile 2018 Hawke’s Bay chardonnays piqued my interest and I thought it might be interesting to add a couple of other 2018s from different regions. It turned out to be a mini masterclass in the stylistic debate that has been raging around chardonnay the past few years.
Jenny Dobson is one of New Zealand’s most experienced red winemakers and to date her focus has been firmly on the classic French varieties that seem to do so well in Hawke’s Bay. It is therefore interesting to see her look further afield for inspiration and explore an Italian variety.