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Tasting Reviews

Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2015 – 2009 and Chardonnay 2014 – 2009

To any wine enthusiast, it would have come as no surprise that Kevin Judd would succeed with his own label after leaving Cloudy Bay following 25 years of making ground breaking wines. In 2009, Kevin and his wife Kimberley launched ‘Greywacke’, named after the ubiquitous New Zealand bedrock found in the soil of most vineyards.

The Greywacke label has the classical Marlborough varieties of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as the focus, supported by Pinot Gris and Riesling. However Kevin, from my perspective, has taken his wines to another level of interest and enjoyment from the norm in the region, and in doing so, has made for himself a place among the leaders of Marlborough expanding the boundaries of wine style. This has been done subtly and with sensitivity, giving the consumer an accessible pathway to appreciate differences in style and greater complexity.

Greywacke’s production nowadays is approx. 30,000 cases made annually. 95% of the output is exported, the U.K. and U.S. markets the strongest. Kevin notes that each market has its preferences, the U.K. keen to see the breadth of his portfolio. The Americans are keenest on the Sauvignon Blanc and make the second largest market for this wine. Interestingly, Norway is the second largest taker of the 'Wild Sauvignon'. The New Zealand market has a strong interest in Chardonnay and Pinot Gris and has the largest uptake of these wines.

I should mention that the Kevin and Kimbeley Judd have been joined by Richard Ellis, a young man with plenty of winemaking experience as well as good time in sales and marketing. I had a good relationship with Richard when he was my Negociants N.Z. representative when I was at Regional Wines. Richard came on board in 2014, and is an integral part of the Greywacke team. Already he has helped me in my understanding of Greywacke.
The ‘Wild Sauvignon’ and Chardonnay
Kevin would say his ‘Wild Sauvignon’ is the Greywacke flagship. It is in the ‘alternative’ style of Sauvignon Blanc, incorporating oak fermentation with ‘wild’ or indigenous yeasts, along with lees work and other inputs such as MLF to build in greater textures and more interesting flavours. This is the most promising future style for invigorating the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc category. The wine makes a fascinating comparison with his more conventional Sauvignon Blanc, which in itself has more richness and texture than most other Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs. His development of the ‘Wild Sauvignon’ is in some ways a continuation of the Cloudy Bay ‘Te Koko’ which he and James Healy (now of Dog Point) created. The Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ is vinified differently to the ‘Te Koko’, for another style, and the comparison between the two is not really valid, though enthusiasts will not be able to help themselves. It is more educational to look at the Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ in comparing its different vintages.

For many critics and enthusiasts, the Greywacke Chardonnay is arguably a better wine than the ‘Wild Sauvignon’. Though not as provocative as the ‘Wild Sauvignon’ is, it can be seen as one of the best Chardonnays made in Marlborough. Kevin’s use of mature Mendoza clone fruit, and high solids barrel-fermentation with indigenous yeasts and clever working of the lees, as well as oak choice, has yielded a complex, mouthfilling wine that retains elegance. The level of funkiness is quite restrained, but is sufficient to make it an adventurous style. I believe that secretly for Kevin, his Chardonnay could be the Greywacke flagship. There is no doubt he is immensely proud of both wines, as he continues to refine them with each consecutive vintage. The Greywacke label is not yet a decade old, so Kevin and Kimberley know that their journey is in the early stages. Knowing this, they both see their wines, these two ‘flagships’ included, with a great sense of humility as well as a degree of pride.

Kevin Judd - Greywacke
He can be very pleased with the 'Wild Sauvignon' and Chadonnay
The Tasting
Kevin Judd recently visited Wellington to show a group of media and trade full vertical line-ups of the Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ and Chardonnay released to date. For the ‘Wild Sauvignon’, this was from 2015 back to 2009. For the Chardonnay, it was from 2014 back to 2009. All of the vintages tasted are regarded as very good to excellent, with 2012 being the coolest and least. The tasting was conducted at Noble Rot Wine Bar. Following are my notes on the wines.
Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ 2015 – 2009
The wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, from different sites in the Wairau Valley, mainly from the Southern Valleys, though some Awatere fruit was included for the first time from the 2017 vintage. The fruit is both hand-picked and machine-harvested, and at the riper end of the spectrum. There are no set numerical parameters for decisions such as picking, the process made more on taste and intuition! The yields work out on average at 700 L per tonne. Kevin approaches the winemaking with the philosophy of being a non-interventionalist, avoiding ‘over-protection’. He believes the key to making wines with longevity is all in the careful processing. The wine is fully barrel-fermented with some solids by ‘wild’ yeasts, and spends 11 months in barrel, less than 10% of the oak new. There is a small amount of batonnage in barrel, with more for the wine in tank. Two-thirds of the wine undergoes MLF. The wines range between 13.0% to 14.0% alc., with around 3-4 g/L RS, though the 2009 is around 6 g/L RS.

Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Pale straw colour with slight green hues. The nose is very elegant and fine, quite tightly bound, with aromatic and green stonefruit notes, along with herbs and florals, with some ripe fruit elements and subtle flinty funkiness. On palate this is fresh and lively with good intensity of ripe stonefruits and a range of herb notes. Very elegant in proportion with fine textures and bright acidity. A youthful wine. 18.5+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $37.85

Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Even straw-yellow colour. This is very tightly bound on the nose wig very good depth and intensity, showing ripe, green stonefruits with minerality. This has richness that unfolds in the glass. On palte , the fruit richness and sweetness is a feature, with up-front flavours of ripe green stonefruits, along with a range of florals and herbs. This has good weight and presence allied to fresh acidity, Subtle flinty nuances, quite in balance with the fruit here. This just grows in richness and layers in the glass. Still a fresh wine that has plenty of time. 19.0-/20 Sep 2017 RRP $N/A

Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Very pale straw colour with slight green tints. This has a firm and densely packed nose, rich fruited and interwoven with complexing nuances of oak, lees, flint, but the green stonefruits predominating. This is rich, deep and layered on the palate with savoury green stonefruits, herbs and subtle nutty notes, The palate carries some texture and structure, still to resolve and integrate. The fruit richness is nicely balanced with the acidity. Still some time needed. 19.0/20 Sep 2017 RRP $N/A

Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Straw-yellow with slight light golden hues. The bouquet is showing some secondary development with asparagus and bean notes, but underlined with green stonefruits and herbs. Some breadth appearing. On palate, beginning to broaden out, but this is up-front with some intensity. Good fruit core and some asparagus and bean, but in a harmonious mix. Slight phenolic grip and the acidity keeps the mouthfeel fresh and lively. Drinking now, maybe drink up. 17.5+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $N/A

Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Pale straw-yellow, even and with a glint of yellow-gold. This has ripe tropical fruit and green stonefruits with subtle complexing nuttiness, lees and flint, and savoury earthiness, beginning to show secondary elements. Full and quite broad on the palate with soft layers of fruit and inputs, including gunflint, with secondary interest all coming together. Lovely ripeness and tropical fruits unfolding a little earth with toast. This has blossomed and shows with integration and harmony. Drinking well, but no hurry. 19.0/20 .Sep 2017 RRP $N/A

Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Very pale straw-yellow colour and a hint of light gold. This is very firm and taut on the bouquet, still youthful and with development ahead. Green stonefruits, some flint and nutty inputs showing, the nose a touch restrained. On palate very elegant and with good depth and intensity. Fresh green stonefruits some herbs, flint and mineral. Very fine-textured and bright acidity here. Very good length. This will keep and needs time to unfold. 19.0+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $N/A

Greywacke ‘Wild Sauvignon’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Bright, light golden-straw colour. The bouquet is soft and full with ripe, sweet tropical fruit and subtle green stonefruit residual flavours. Some density to the nose. Secondary earthiness, somewhat ‘old-fashioned’ in its obviousness. Soft and sweeter on the palate, ripe tropical fruit intermixed with green stonefruits. Quite lush, the palate now beginning to mellow. Drink up. 18.0-/20 Oct 2017 RRP $N/A
Greywacke Chardonnay 2014 – 2009
The Chardonnay is based on mature Mendoza clone with some clone 95, the proportions varying, though the Mendoza usually predominant. The fruit is sourced from various sites, including a smaller amount from Rapaura, Woodbourne and more from the Brancott Valley mouth, the latter being the Dog Point vineyards. The fruit is hand-picked and WBP, approx. half with high solids, straight to barrel the other half with less solids, and indigenous yeast fermented to around 14.0% to 14.5% alc. The wine spends 18 months in 20% new Mercurey oak. medium+ toast, undergoing 100% MLF.

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2014
Very pale straw colour with slight green hues. The nose is elegant with very fresh and intense white stonefruit and citrus fruit aromas and subtle gunflint complexities with other input nuances. On palate very tightly bound, but intensely concentrated, with stonefruit and barrel work plus gunflint. The fruit is underlined by fine structural textures, balancing the fruit sweetness. The acidity is crisp and refreshing. This has it all there for aging 4-5+ years. 19.0-/20 Sep 2017 RRP $41.95

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
Pale straw-yellow with green hues. This has a full, broad and deep nose with voluminous stonefruit, nutty oak and sulphide gunflint aromas all melded together. Rich and fulsome on the plate, this is openly accessible and broad with mouthfilling flavours of white stonefruits, complex flinty notes nutty oak and lees, with mineral elements. The acidity is still refreshing, and the textures integrated. Complex, ripe, and complete on the palate, this is drinking well but will do so for another 3-4 years easily. 19.0/20 Sep 2017 RRP $N/A

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2012 
Very pale straw colour. This is elegant in expression with some secondary earthy and herby notes to the white stonefruits, nuts and a little flintiness. This shows a cooler vintage with its more modest dimensions. Still rich and sweet fruited, quite luscious even, and finely concentrated, Some flinty and nutty interest, a touch of cool herb suggestions. The freshness will allow it to keep 3-4 years. I was quite taken by this in its youth, the wine beautifully elegant and showing plenty on release. Its true character has slowly revealed itself to me now. 18.5/20 Sep 2017 RRP $N/A

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2011
Very pale straw colour, quite brilliant. The bouquet is very firm, concentrated and intense with density and real presence. Intense white stonefruits with deep flinty reductive notes. Quite elegant on palate, but rich and sweetly fruited. Lovely balance and style of deep stonefruits and complexing flint. Very fine textures and fresh, lacy acidity. The finish is quite remarkable in length. This is youthful, but its potential can be seen. 19.0+/20 Sep 2017 RRP $N/A

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2010
Pale straw-yellow colour. The bouquet is very tightly bound and concentrated with a complex amalgam of white stonefruits, gunflint reduction, creamy barrel-ferment, nutty lees and oak. On palate, this has real size and presence. The flavours show well with breadth, and layers of stonefruit, oak, and complex inputs. Yet there is a dense and taut core that promises much more. This has an undeveloped character at heart, but has revealed much. The finish is particularly long and nuanced. This is great wine. 19.5/20 Sep 2017 RRP $N/A

Greywacke Marlborough Chardonnay 2009
Bright straw-yellow colour. The nose is full, soft and broad with rich and ripe yellow stonefruits, citrus fruit and tropical fruit aromas, the componentry integrated and harmonious, quite complete and mature. Somewhat restrained on palate, the flavours soft in expression and quite broad and subtly mouthfilling. Ripe tropicAl fruit, oak and hints of nuts and toast. The acid is integrated, and the softness is growing. Mature now, and one to drink up. 18.0/20 Sep 2017 RRP $N/A

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