Craggy Range 2014 ‘Aroha’, ‘Le Sol’ and ‘Sophia’ – The Prestige Collection
It is no secret now that the best 2014 vintage wines from Hawke’s Bay will rival the best of the 2013s. The best predictors of the quality and style of the Craggy Range ‘Prestige Collection’ wines come in the form of the earlier-released ‘Family Collection’ wines. Earlier this year, I reviewed the 2014 vintage Craggy Range ‘Family Collection’ wines, and found them comparable to the 2013 releases (click here to see my reviews). The 2013 and 2014 Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels wines are dissimilar in style, this being the result of different growing conditions. The 2013s had the heat in the initial period of the season, with milder weather for the remainder preserving freshness. For 2014, the heat came later and in the end the total accumulation was higher. Craggy Range’s chief winemaker Matt Stafford sees the 2013s as having a "classical reserved feel”, whereas the 2014s have "fruit generosity and an immediate deliciousness”. The situations for 2013 and 2014 were similar for the Martinborough district too, the latter with greater heat accumulation, but also higher yields requiring crop thinning.
The extremely high quality of 2013 and 2014 will provide drinkers with the opportunity of comparing ‘twin’ great vintages for many years to come. It will be difficult to pronounce which is the better year early on, but such statements come a little easier with time. Much of the preference will no doubt come down to personal preferences. Here, I review the 2014 Craggy Range ‘Prestige Collection’ wines. They are ripe, lusciously rich and seamless in the case of the ‘Aroha’ and ‘Le Sol’, and the ‘Sophia’ shows wonderful succulence and structure. They will be released to the market at the start of June. www.craggyrange.com
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Craggy Range ‘Aroha’ ‘Te Muna Road Vineyard’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2014Pinot Noir from New Zealand - Wairarapa & WellingtonReview Date : 09-May-2016Dark ruby-red colour with moderate depth, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is refined in expression with firmly concentrated aromas of dark red berry fruits and black cherries harmoniously melded of soft, complexing layers of dried herbs and whole cluster stalk perfumes. The aromatics build in depth and intensity, unveiling dark-red florals, dark plums and earthy detail. Medium-full bodied, the palate features rich and lusciously sweet, ripe fruit flavours of dark-red berry fruits integrated with savoury, earthy plums to form a tightly packed and deep heart. The mouthfeel is soft, plush and seamless in texture with refined structure and grip. Layers of savoury dark herbs and whole cluster stalk complexities unfold to provide considerable interest. Some underlying alcoholic power carries the rich fruit, with ripe acidity lending roundness. The wine leads to a softly concentrated, gently lingering finish of savoury detail. This is a soft, plush, seamless and sweetly rich Pinot Noir with dark red berry and plum fruit with complex whole bunch complexities. Serve with casseroles and game meat dishes over the next 6-8+ years. 60% clone 114, 25% Abel and 15% 667 from the ‘Te Muna Road’ vineyard, hand-picked and indigenous yeast fermented with 50% whole clusters to 13.8% alc., the wine spending 18-25 days on skins, and aged 10 months in 30% new French oak barriques. Approx. 800 cases made. 19.0+/20 May 2016 RRP $120.00
Craggy Range ‘Le Sol’ ‘Gimblett Gravels Vineyard’ Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2014Syrah from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 30-Aug-2016Very dark, deep, near impenetrable black-red with purple hues. The nose is very full with soft and densely packed aromas, the expression a little shy and reserved, showing ripe black berried fruits with fragrant violet floral perfumes. This has a dense core that unfolds notes of liquorice and spice notes. This appears to be brooding and abiding its time. Medium-full bodied, the palate is softly full, dense and weight with plenty of presence. A hint of musty TCA is suggested? This has soft, interwoven flavours of ripe black berried fruits with violet perfumes and a supporting array of florals. This is succulent and spicy, the fruit supported by plenty of fine-grained, powdery tannins. The structure carries the wine to a long, sweet, but soft and restrained finish. This is a soft and densely packed Syrah, a little reserved in fruit expression, but showing ripe black fruits and violet perfumes and plenty of fine-grained tannin structure. This bottle a tad disappointing? The shyness could be due to TCA, but plenty of wine comes through, regardless. 10-12+ years. 100% MS clone Syrah from the ‘Gimblett Gravels’ vineyard, hand-picked, fully destemmed and fermented to 14.2% alc., the wine spending 20-25 days on skins and aged 18 months in 35% new French oak barriques. Approx. 1,000 cases made. 19.0-/20 Sep 2016 RRP $120.00 Very dark, near impenetrable black-red colour with youthful purple hues. This has a very elegant, stylishly reserved nose with beautifully harmonious and integrated aromas of ripe black berried fruits interwoven with black pepper, black plum and liquorice notes, along with Oriental spices and exotic oak. This is seamlessly melded together and quite complete in expression. Medium-full bodied, the palate exudes refinement, possessing a tight core of sweetly ripe black berried and plum fruits with liquorice and subtly integrated notes of black pepper and Asian spices. This has a very fine-grained and tightly concentrated core, and the wine flows seamlessly with satiny tannins and lacy, underlying acidity providing gentle tension and drive. As the wine flows, waves of violet florals and exotic spices emerge and are carried to a very long and sustained finish of fine, flowery textures and sweet black fruits and spices. This is a beautifully elegant, seamlessly refined, rich Syrah with a sweetly concentrated core and layers of fine spice and exotic detail. Serve with lamb, beef, venison, and Mediterranean or Middle Eastern fare over the next 8-10+ years. 100% MS clone Syrah from the ‘Gimblett Gravels’ vineyard, hand-picked’ fully destemmed and fermented to 14.2% alc., the wine spending 20-25 days on skins and aged 18 months in 35% new French oak barriques. Approx. 1,000 cases made. 19.5/20 May 2016 RRP $120.00
Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ ‘Gimblett Gravels Vineyard’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet 2014Merlot from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 30-Aug-2016Very dark, black-hearted purple-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. This has a full, deep and powerful nose with very intense, fresh and vibrant ripe dark plum and black berried fruit aromas entwined with layers of spicy oak. The primary nature of the fruit and the oak exuberance has yet to integrate, but the potential quality is clear. Medium-full bodied, the palate is tightly bound, but the fruit is rich, lusciously bright and vibrant in its richness and vitality. Blackcurrant, blackberry and blue fruit notes show with layers of dark herbs, earth and spicy, toasty oak with vanilla. The fruit is framed by fine-grained, flowery tannin structure and serious extraction. The fruit and grip is carried with energy and acid tension to a very long and sustained sweet, primary-fruited finish with notable concentration and grip. This is a rich and youthfully vibrant Merlot-based blend with mouthfilling flavours, serious structure and great potential. 12-15 years. A blend of 61% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Cabernet Franc from the ‘Gimblett Gravels’ vineyard, hand-picked and fermented to 13.8% alc., the Merlot around 25 days on skins and the Cabernet Sauvignon approx. 35 days on skins, the wine aged 19 months in 40% new French oak barriques. Approx. 1,000 cases made. 19.5/20 Sep 2016 RRP $95.00 Very dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red with purple hues. The nose is bold and powerfully intense with youthfully primary aromas of ripe black and dark red plum fruit entwined with blackcurrants and redcurrants along with an array of exotic herbs and spicy oak. The vitality, depth and power are features of the aromatics. Medium-full bodied, very rich and succulently sweet fruit flavours of ripe dark-red and black berries, and black plums intermingle with layers of blackcurrants and waves of exotic spicy oak. This has great depth and concentration, the power and richness of the fruit sweetness matched by supporting, fine-grained tannin extraction and structure. The fruit remains vibrant and full of vitality, exuding youthful primacy. The wine carries with great presence to a solid, very long and sustained finish of sweet fruit and spicy oak. This is a powerfully concentrated, succulently sweet Merlot/Cabernet blend with exotic oaking, matching fine structure and youthful vitality. Match with roasted red meats and semi-hard cheeses over he next 10-12+ years. A blend of 61% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Cabernet Franc from the ‘Gimblett Gravels’ vineyard, hand-picked and fermented to 13.8% alc., the Merlot around 25 days on skins and th Cabernet Sauvignon approx. 35 days on skins, the wine aged 19 months in 40% new French oak barriques. Approx. 1,000 cases made. 19.5/20 May 2016 RRP $95.00