Diane's Lunch Review : Greywacke Winery June 27, 2017 14:06

I was recently fortunate enough to be invited to a wine tasting lunch with Kevin Judd of Greywacke Winery (I know, it’s a tough life – and to think I gave up a career in surveying…). 

Described by the wine journalist, Tim Atkin, as “arguably the most famous exponent of Sauvignon Blanc on the planet”, Kevin Judd was the man behind Cloudy Bay, the iconic New Zealand wine brand and is known and revered throughout the wine world.  If I hadn’t known, I would never have guessed.  Kevin comes over as a quiet, totally unpretentious and unassuming man – I liked him a lot!

Although Kevin’s career is intrinsically linked with the global profile of New Zealand wine, he was actually born in England and grew up in Australia.  He moved to New Zealand in 1983 and subsequently became the founding winemaker at Cloudy Bay, a pivotal role during which he directed the company’s first 25 vintages. He left Cloudy Bay in 2009 to establish his own label, Greywacke, (pronounced “grey-wacky”), named after the drab grey stone that is found everywhere in New Zealand.  There he leads a tiny team and everyone gets stuck in.  It’s not unknown for Kevin’s wife, Kimberley, and the office staff to be commandeered to pick grapes when the need arises!

Kevin’s particular wine-making passion is the use of wild yeasts to ferment his wines.  The more “normal” approach is to add cultured yeast to the juice and ferment it in stainless steel tanks where everything can be monitored and controlled - this is largely the method used in Greywacke’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.  With his Marlborough Wild Sauvignon, however, the juice is put directly into old French oak barriques and is left to undergo spontaneous fermentation at the hands of wild yeasts circulating in the air.  This is not an approach that would suit anyone with control issues! The reason Kevin favours it, is that it adds complexity and personality to the wine.  I must say, that having tasted both in succession, it really does make a significant difference.

All the wines we tasted were fantastic.  I think my own favourite may have been the Marlborough Pinot Gris, with its luscious off-dry richness balanced with just enough crisp acidity. I imagine it would be great with Provender Brown’s duck liver mousse and some onion marmalade.  Much as I would like to stock them all, we simply don’t have space so I have limited myself to the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and the Marlborough Wild Sauvignon, for which the brand is best known.  The Sauvignon Blanc would be great with our new Seafood & Eat It crabmeat, whereas the Wild Sauvignon has the complexity to take Thai or Chinese food or seafood in a creamy sauce.  If you would like any of the others, just email me and I can order them in for you.

Oh, just one final thing, Kevin is also a very talented photographer.  If you have a moment, check out some of his photos on Instagram 

Greywacke, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (13.5%) £17.99

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A delicious fusion of ripe summer fruits and delicate floral perfume, citrus blossom and elderflower entwined with nectarines and white peaches, mandarin and cantaloupe with a twist of lemon. Intensely flavoured, succulent and crisp with a delicate herbal infusion.

Greywacke, Marlborough Wild Sauvignon 2015 (14%) £25.99

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Transformed by naturally occurring fermentations this is a Sauvignon Blanc of considerable depth and opulence. The bouquet has the lushness of a lemon crème brûlée, with sweet vanillin notes infused with thyme and toasted sesame. The palate is generous and crammed with savoury complexity – a ‘wild child’ sauvignon that is rich and creamy with a lingering chalky texture.

Greywacke, Marlborough Pinot Gris 2015 (14%) £21.99

An autumnal bake-up of soft sweet figs, poached pears and quince, scented with a hint of mulling spices and almond crumble. An opulently ripe expression of the Pinot Gris grape with great texture and a luscious off-dry richness that finishes crisply with considerable power and length.

Greywacke, Marlborough Riesling 2014 (12.5%) £21.99

A virtual fruit salad of mandarin segments, white fleshed peaches and crisp apples, sprinkled with lemon blossom and a dollop of honey. A lively, aromatic off-dry style that delivers a sherbet-like balance of bright, natural acidity and a subliminal touch of sweetness.

Greywacke, Marlborough Chardonnay 2014 (14.5%) £32.99

An alluring combination of cumquats, peaches and yellow grapefruit melds with the more savoury aromas of almond nougat, vanilla beans and marzipan – an opulent concoction that is infused with a charry smokiness. The savouriness carries through onto a wonderfully dry, but rich and powerful palate that has great texture and concentration.

Greywacke, Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014 (14%) £32.99

A sweet-scented compote of poached Black Doris plums, raspberries and black cherries with a spoonful of homemade strawberry conserve stirred in for good measure. A highly fragrant style of Marlborough Pinot with cinnamon and clove spiciness – a dense structure, generous palate weight and a long, lively finish.

Greywacke, Marlborough Botrytis Pinot Gris 2013 (12.5%) £24.99 (37.5cl)

An opulent potpourri evoking dates and sun-dried figs, Red Delicious apples and quince paste – intermingled with aromatic fragrances reminiscent of rosehip syrup and Middle-Eastern spices. A lavish interpretation of the variety that is richly flavoured with dried fruits and liquored oranges – concentrated, luscious and delicious.