Grapevine Archive for Pinot Gris
Kevin Judd was born in Totton, Hampshire, emigrating to South Australia aged nine (“my parents went, and at that age you just go with the flow”) and then, with his wife Kimberley, on to New Zealand in 1983 where along with David Hohnen he was founding winemaker at LVMH’s iconic Cloudy Bay. He stayed there for 24 years. He says that his one regret is that he didn’t stay for his 25-year gold watch (LVMH also own TAG-Heuer!) but he certainly has no regrets about the path he has followed since.
2009 was the first vintage of Greywacke, so named because most of New Zealand lies upon the eponymous bedrock. The range comprises Sauvignon Blanc, Wild Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Late Harvest Gewürztraminer. At the end of January 60 members were fortunate enough to try six of these seven wines at Peter Gordon‘s Kopapa Café and Restaurant which had been expertly matched by Peter himself and his head chef Leigh Hartnett. We were delighted that both Kevin and Kimberley were there to talk to members about the wines in detail.
The aperitif of Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2011 was a sprightly, fresh, lime and fresh grass sauvignon which demands you have a second glass.
Kopapa’s speciality is tapas-style dishes, and so we had four shared small plates as our starters. The two dishes of goat’s curd panna cotta, beetroot yuzu salsa and black olive tuile, and then smoked monkfish carpaccio, white balsamic, caper & parsley dressing were a marvellous foil to the rounded, ripe, savoury, almost minty character of the Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2010 (due in February). Rich and yet palate cleansing at the same time, the savoury notes melded with the smoked monkfish as well as the classic sauvignon marriage with goat’s cheese.
The second pair of dishes (pan-fried Scottish scallops, sweet chilli & crème fraîche – Peter’s signature dish – and tempura spicy dhal inari pocket, caramelised coconut, plantain, pickled green papaya) were beautifully matched with Greywacke Riesling 2011 (it’s first showing anywhere in the world – due in June). The wine is fresh, off-dry, open, appealing with lime and mineral notes and should come with a label that says simply ‘Drink Me!’ The 20g/l residual sugar, and the lovely crisp acidity countered the sweetness of the coconut and the chilli spice perfectly.
Next to the cheese course, and a twice baked Crozier Blue soufflé (no mean feat to produce 64 individual soufflés all at the same time!) with Jerusalem artichoke cream and a pomegranate dressing went superbly with the soft green apples and tropical fruit of the Greywacke Pinot Gris 2010, with its 8 g/l of sweetness balancing the light saltiness of the soufflé.
The beautifully cooked main course of lamb cutlet & braised lamb shank with white bean purée, kale and fig jus fitted hand in glove with Greywacke Pinot Noir 2010 (due in June). The wine, with its lovely waft of sweet cherries and cream, showed a savoury and mineral depth of huge proportion, and a fresh, almost eternal savoury finish.
To finish, Greywacke Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2009 (we believe these were the last bottles in existence) with its 90 g/l of residual sugar and its trademark lychee and Turkish delight character, and yet a freshness rarely displayed in gewurz found elsewhere, with another signature dish of banana tarte tatin and sea salt caramel ice cream.
As well as arguably being New Zealand’s top winemaker, he is a very talented photographer. He has published three books – details and several images can be found by clicking on this link – and members enjoyed browsing through the books as we ate and drank.
It was a night to remember and to savour. Kevin and Kimberley moved on the next day to Denmark in their four week odyssey of the northern hemisphere, but we look forward to their return to these shores, as well as the very welcome arrival of the new vintages later this year.
Head of Tastings & Events
I’ve been overdosing on asparagus since the Morris Men dusted off their bells in April, and I’m not wholly sorry to wave them off for another year. Not in the least tempted by the sprue, sorry-looking spears outstaying their welcome at seasonally-challenged supermarkets, I’m now wolfing down home-produced peas and broad beans. For them, I invariably reach for sauvignon blanc, but a much more exciting match I have found this summer is Kiwi pinot gris.
This hard-to-pin-down style, that often scores 3 or 4 on The Society’s sweetness scale can vary from soft and ample to unattractively sweet, and one reason for that is vine age. My colleague Pierre Mansour, who buys The Society’s New Zealand wines tells me that younger vines – and many of New Zealand’s pinot gris plantings fall into this category – tend to produce grapes with less concentration and more acidity, which has to be countered with residual sugar, making the resultant wines taste awkward and unbalanced. It’s the subtler sweetness in the drier, more concentrated styles our Pierre seeks out that resonate best with the sugars in the peas. I also find in Kiwi whites a uniquely leguminous quality which, unless it’s totally out of balance (what we call “asparagussy”), works brilliantly here too. Try a glass of Kumeu River pinot gris with a summer risotto, pea or bean purees (lovely with grilled lamb or fish), or the classic pasta sauce of broad beans, bacon, sage and cream.
Here is an excerpt of an email sent to me today from Paul Pujol of Prophet’s Rock, one of New Zealand’s outstanding pinot noir winemakers, on the 2010 harvest in Central Otago. We will be tasting the whites later in the year and the reds when they have completed their maturation in barrel (sometime next year).
“Another vintage is officially in the bag – after finally harvesting a small block of Pinot Gris on Tuesday up at the Bendigo vineyard. The early signs are that this will be a strong vintage from Central Otago. Early in the season it seemed this would be a cooler and later picked vintage but as the season progressed harvest predictions kept coming forward, ultimately we picked in mid-April – very much a ‘normal’ picking time. Weather over harvest was perfect and the fruit was in excellent condition.”