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Gladstone Vineyard and Craig Fryett

By March 9, 2016No Comments
Craig Fryett joined Christine Kernohan in the winemaking role at Gladstone Vineyard in August last year, after Alexis Moore left to take up a position in the Okanagan Valley, Canada. Craig’s role expanded soon after, taking on the role of vineyard manager following the departure of Kyle Mason. The roles of winemaker and viticulturist are not foreign to Craig, as he originally took up a vineyard position at Te Kairanga in Martinborough in 2003, before commencing winery work in 2004, becoming full-time in the winery in 2005. However, it is the responsibilities of these roles that will be challenging for Craig, but it is a challenge he is looking forward to, in the next phase of his career.

I visited Craig at Gladstone Vineyard as he was preparing the winery for the impending 2016 vintage. He admits that understanding the vineyards was and remains the priority, but he has the experience and knowledge of owner Christine Kernohan to call on. Gladstone Vineyard has 2.7 ha on the ‘Home Block’ at Gladstone, the original vines planted in 1986. The varieties there are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling. The company’s 10 ha block on Dakins Road was planted over 2000-2002 with Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Viognier, Pinot Noir and the Bordeaux varieties of Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Gladstone Vineyard also draws on 8 ha of fruit from contracted growers. Craig will be handling around 150 tonnes of fruit at vintage for own label wines, as well as the smaller contracted production of the ‘Stonecrop’ and ‘Lynfer’ wines. The vineyards are tended by permanent contractors and from next year, there will be the assistance of a cellar hand and vineyard worker. www.gladstonevineyard.co.nz

Craig Fryett (and Ruby) in the ‘Home Block’

Increasing Style Delineation
Craig and Christine have been in the process of making the delineation between the ’12,000 Miles’ and ‘Gladstone Vineyard’ wines stronger. The former wines will have a greater emphasis on fruit expression, whereas the ‘Gladstone Vineyard’ wines will exhibit more intensity, texture and complex flavours. The 2015 vintage white wines which Craig finished off are showing the steps towards this greater differentiation. And the Pinot Noir, yet to be blended, will no doubt show this as well. Craig showed me two finished and bottled whites – the Viognier and Pinot Gris – demonstrating the tweaks to the style of the whites. Some barrel samples of Pinot Noir tasted were very attractive. Clearly, the variety performed well, the wines showing excellent tannin structure, but yields were down approx. 50%. There will be only 2,700 to 3,000 Litres of the total 10,700 of Pinot Noir going into the Gladstone Vineyard label. The Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 may be one to seek out when released.

Tasting the Wines and Barrel Samples
Here are my impressions of the wines tasted. They were not scored as I was looking at style appreciation.

Gladstone Vineyard Gladstone Viognier 2015
This is 30% barrel-fermented. Light straw-gold colour. The nose is full with soft, but densely packed aromas of apricots with exotic floral notes, quite up-front and very expressive of varietal character. This has good ripeness. Dryish to taste, the fruit is sweet and rounded, with good depth and density. The soft textures enhance the fruit richness and exotic nature, suggesting opulence. Fine textures and acidity complete the balance. There is some underlying alcoholic power here too.

Gladstone Vineyard Gladstone Pinot Gris 2015
Tank fermented but 5% fermented with skins for spiciness, and no doubt texture. Light golden-hued straw yellow. The nose has an amalgam of stonefruits and flint. This is funky in nuance only. On palate quite rich-fruited and up-front, with accompanying body and weight. Fine phenolics keep the mouthfeel dry. Flavours of pears, stonefruits and florals are true to variety. There is no mistaking this is Pinot Gris.

2015 Pinot Noir, 10/5 clone, Dakins Road Barrel Sample
10% whole cluster, 2 y.o. oak. Light purple-red. This is gently concentrated with a firm core of violet florals intermixed with savoury, herbal and stalk aromas. This has depth. Savoury flavoured with good body and acidity. There is strength and fine-grained grip. A touch of smoky oak emerges.

2015 Pinot Noir, clone 667 and 777, Dakins Road Barrel Sample
1 y.o. barrel. Darker purple red. This has dark red and blackberry fruits with density and firmness. More aromatic with florals as well as liquorice, and subtle savoury detail. Juicy and plush on palate, more up-front, with fine tannins and acidity. Purity and perfumes rule.

2015 Pinot Noir, clone 777, Dakins Road Barrel Sample
3 y.o. barrel. Youthful purple-red. Very refined, tight and elegant. Perfumes, finesse and purity on the nose. Still very tightly bound on palate. Slender in proportion but with excellent intensity. Very fine tannins, revealing spices on the finish.

2015 Pinot Noir, clone 114, Dakins Road Barrel Sample
Deep, light purple colour. More subtle and restrained on nose, with violet florals the feature and a layering of spices. Soft-textured, stylish and restrained. Rounded mouthfeel, but this grows to show body and presence. Quite satisfying in the end.

2015 Pinot Noir, clones 10/5 and 113, Dakins Road Barrel Sample
Darker purple-red. The nose is full and solidly packed, with savoury stalk aromas, typical 10/5. But revealing floral perfumes and a degree of beauty. Full and structured on palate, densely concentrated, fulsome and seriously structured. Sweet, savoury and spice, lovely grip and presence. This will be a strong component.

Craig Fryett with the 2015 Pinot Noir barrels

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