All of Hawke’s Bay attributes are wonderfully represented by CJ Pask. With 90 ha of vines all in the Gimblett Gravels, the wines made by Kate Radburnd and Russell Wiggins are archetype of what the region does best. The focus is on Merlot and the Bordeaux varieties, with emerging Syrah featuring in the reds, and Chardonnay with Viognier growing in the whites. Pretty much 85% of the 55,000 case annual production is exported, but the domestic market is recognised as one of the most difficult to operate in, and there are moves to see the company increase its presence.
One can sense the consolidation and building momentum if one visits the winery on Omahu Road near Stortford Lodge at Hastings. Two large, new buildings have been acquired from Hatton Estate, and this has created much increased storage ability. A revised barrel hall area has implemented and a new bottling line is on the way. The established brands of ‘Roy’s Hill’, ‘Gimblett Road’ and super-premium ‘Declaration’ have been joined by the winemaker play label of ‘Instinct’ and just recently the ‘kate radburnd’ tier that have fruit sourced from regions outside of The Bay, and incorporate bright, cotemporary packaging.
Joining Kate and Russell three months ago is Greg Allinson, in the role of commercial manager. Trained in winemaking, Greg has the directive to up the activity in marketing, and one can see this in his presence in social media. He has been responsible for the development of a fresh website which will come on line soon.
Greg took me through a tasting of some new wines just released or about to be released. The ‘Gimblett Road’ Viognier 2011 continues the tight, crisp, dry and pure-fruited examples that have proven to be very successful on the show circuit. Rather than being opulent, the CJ Pask is crisp, steely and cutting, and very versatile with food. The ‘Gimblett Road’ Syrah 2010 shows the cooler vintage in its lighter, drier presentation. However, its elegance has style and length. The ‘Declaration’ Syrah 2009 is at the other end of the spectrum, being big, fully-ripened, lush and exotic, showing the signature barrel-ferment toast. This is very special. The ‘Declaration’ Merlot 2007 is a refined, tight and remarkably fresh wine that will develop with finesse and cedary complexities over the next decade. Very Bordeaux-like. And the ‘Declaration’ Cabernet/Merlot/Malbec 2007 a rich, dense and near funky and already complex red that is an expression of generosity. This too will evolve with great interest and be a decadent mouthful for all of its life.
With such classic Hawke’s Bay wines in the portfolio, and with new and modern styles to appeal to the new wine consumer, I see CJ Pask with its fresh new edge continuing to do well in these times and in the coming years. www.cjpaskwinery.co.nz