Have you ever been unimpressed with a wine on first taste, but then fallen in love with it over the course of a meal?

Well, according to a very interesting article by Decanter’s Andrew Jefford “digestibility is as much a hallmark of truly fine wine as is sensorial intricacy and harmony.” Jefford goes on to explain:

Twenty-five years of reading wine assessments, as well as providing assessments of my own, have convinced me that tasting without drinking is, in fact, a monstrous (if inevitable) flaw in all wine criticism. I’d like to see wine critics append a ‘D’ or a ‘*’ to any numeric score or tasting note for a wine which has been drunk rather than merely assessed by tasting. Any critic who claims that they have never had to adjust, after drinking, an initial assessment based on tasting alone is lying. (Jefford on Monday: Thinking about Tasting by Andrew Jefford, Decanter, 7 November 2011)

Jefford’s comments resonated with me when I attended a tasting last night of the Craggy Range lineup hosted by NZ Wine Online. The event was held at the Roof Top Bar of Coast, but the sun hadn’t set so I was hot and thirsty. Not the best state to be in when tasting wines! Fortunately the weather cooled and big plates of antipasto arrived in time to whet our appetites.

All the wines on show were excellent, but the Craggy Range Old Renwick Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (26.95) was definitely an example of a wine that opened up with food. I was initially perplexed by its unusually dry, stoney and mineral character, but over time its delicious lime and grapefruit flavours also shone through.

Initially struck by the dark rich purple red colour of the Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2009 (37.95), I was almost surprised by the wine’s subtle, complex flavours and tautly elegant structure. Aromas of bright ripe black fruits with gorgeous peppery notes were complemented by clear fruit flavours and fine-grained tannins. The wine went beautifully with the prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella cheese on hand.

The Craggy Range ‘Le Sol‘ Syrah 2009($106.95) could be described as the Gimblett Gravels Syrah’s big brother. A very big, intensely flavoured, complex wine underpinned by elegant structured tannins and a luscious silky texture. This a wine that makes you understand why New Zealand’s top syrahs are giving their Australian counterparts a run for the money! In fact, I wasn’t surprised to hear that the wine had just won Wine of the Year in the Australasian Winestate awards, the first time Australia has handed over its shiraz trophy crown to a syrah.

Pinot Noir is also a variety that reveals its depth of character when drunk with food. You’ve already heard me wax lyrical about the exquisite Craggy Range Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2009. The Craggy Range Calvert Pinot Noir 2009 ($59.95) was sublime. Made from biodynamically grown fruit from the Felton Road Central Otago Calvert Vineyard, the sweet ripe, vibrant red-berry fruits are complemented by a minerally acidity and elegant silky tannins.

On first taste the Craggy Range offerings are sure to impress, but these are wines designed to be savoured over a long meal!

Merrill Witt, Editor


Prices quoted are from NZWineOnline.com.au.