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Featured Reviews

Grava Wines 2016 Martinborough Sauvignon, Rosé, Riesling and Pinot Noir

28 February,2018

Alistair Gardner and Karla Fallon have made significant commitments to the Wairarapa wine scene of late. In November 2014, they purchased the former Hudson Wine vineyard just 8 km south of the Martinborough village on Lake Ferry Road, and released their own Grava wines from the 2015 vintage. Being an established vineyard with 2.0 ha of Pinot Noir in clones 777, 115 and Abel, 1.7 ha of Sauvignon Blanc and 1.5 ha of Riesling, this gave Alistair, a winemaker with good experience in New Zealand and overseas to make a set of wines that have found ready acceptance in the marketplace. Alistair uses the Alana Estate facilities where he supported Alex Craighead making the Alana Wines, but will assume full responsibility for these from the 2018 vintage. The Grava wines continue to be made there too. Alistair has become chairman of the Wairarapa Winegrowers organisation, a popular appointment by all accounts. Here, I review the new release 2016 Grava wines, which are the result of continued work in the vineyard and show a greater understanding of the wines. Alistair is happy to include a portion of adventurous winemaking in the blends, but is very careful not to make the wines too funky. To me, the 2016s have increased in consistency across the range, which is very promising.


Grava Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Full, bright straw-yellow colour with slight green-gold hues, pale edged. The nose is a little shy and restrained with a taut core of white and green stonefruits and subtle notes of fresh herbs and mineral nuances. The fruit has good proportion and the intensity builds with aeration. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate has stylishly restrained flavours of white and green stonefruits entwined with delicate herb and nutty notes, and mouthwatering minerals. The fruit forms an elegant core and a very fine-textured line with refreshing acidity that guides the wine with good energy to a soft-textured, lingering finish of stonefruits and herbs. This is a stylishly restrained dry Sauvignon Blanc with white and green stonefruit flavours along with subtle herb and mineral elements on a fine-textured, fresh palate. Serve as an aperitif, and with seafood over the next 2+ years. Hand-picked fruit, WBP and fermented in stainless-steel with 20% in 500 L French oak puncheons and 2% on skins to 12.5% alc. and 5.0 g/L RS, the wine undergoing 4 months batonnage. 17.5/20 Feb 2018 RRP $27.50

Grava Martinborough Rosé 2016

Rose from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Bright, light strawberry pink with slight peach hues and some depth, pale on the rim. The nose is bright and fresh with aromas of quince and watermelon, along with subtle notes of soft red florals and thirst-quenching mineral elements. Medium in sweetness and medium-bodied, the palate has rich and luscious fruit flavours of quince and watermelon, along with lifted red florals and a little confectionary. The mouthfeel balances richness and fruitiness with thirst-quenching freshness from good underlying acidity. The wine flows positively along a very fine-textured line leading to a lingering, delicately nuanced finish. This is a rich and fruity off-dry rosé with quince and watermelon flavours along with floral and confectionary nuances on a mouthwatering palate. Serve as an aperitif, with canapés and antipasto over the next 2 years. Made from Abel clone Pinot Noir, hand-picked and WBP, and fermented in 500L French oak puncheons, with 12% on skins to 12.5% alc. and 13 g/L RS, the wine aged one moth in barrel. 18.0-/20 Feb 2018 RRP $30.00

Grava Martinborough Riesling 2016

Riesling from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Bright, light straw-yellow colour with slight green hues, lighter on the edge. The nose is elegantly concentrated and well-packed with a core of lime fruit entwined with subtle toast and honeysuckle detail and mineral elements. This has good depth and presence, unfolding subtle nuances. Medium in sweetness and light-medium bodied, the palate has rich lime fruit flavours along with honey and mineral nuances and a mouthwatering mineral edge. The palate balances a soft unctuousness with fine fruit extract and phenoli textures, and refreshing, lacy acidity. The fruit has good depth and weight, and the wine aling a delicate textured line, leading to a moderately sustained finish. This is a rich-fruited medium Riesling with lime and toast flavours and subtle honeysuckle and mineral elements on a fine-textured, mouthwatering palate. Serve as an aperitif and with Asian fare over the next 5 years. Hand-picked fruit with no botrytis, soaked in the press for 3 hours and cool-fermented in tank with 12% on skins to 11.0% alc., 16 g/L RS and TA 7.1 g/L. 18.0+/20 Feb 2018 RRP $29.90

Grava Martinborough Pinot Noir 2016

Pinot Noir from New Zealand – Wairarapa & Wellington


Light red colour with some depth and slight garnet hues on the rim. The nose is taut with a firm heart of savoury red berry and plum fruit along with a layering of dried herbs and whole bunch stalk perfumes, unfolding some nutty oak and hints of earth. This has good complexity and detail. Medium-bodied, the palate has sweetly rich fruit flavours of savoury red berries and plums entwined with dried herbs and subtle whole bunch stalk notes. The fruit possesses lusciousness and unfolds lifted red florals. The fruit sweetness is enlivened by fresh acidity and supported by fine-grained tannin structure that allows the fruit to prevail. The wine carries with good energy to a vibrant finish. This is a succulent and lusciously sweet Pinot Noir with complex savoury red berry and plum fruit along with dried herb and whole bunch detail, on a fresh, fine-structured palate. Match with casseroles and slow-cooked game meat dishes over the next 5-6+ years. Clones 115 and 777 fully destemmed with 35% Abel as whole bunches, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in 10% new French oak barrels. 18.5/20 Feb 2018 RRP $45.00

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