John Hawkesby

John Hawkesby is a wine writer for Canvas Magazine.

Wine: Land shares its secret

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Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Loveblock is the latest creation of that winemaking-cum-clever-marketing power couple, Kim and Erica Crawford.

Their new venture is impressive for its packaging, scope of varietals, quality and price. As veteran winemaker Kim explains, "We started with a blank canvas so there's not the pressure of any history."

With former Huia viticulturalist Matt Oliver they've come up with a portfolio of excellent whites from Marlborough's hills overlooking the Awatere Valley and pinot noir from grapes grown at Bendigo in Central Otago.

"To be honest," says Oliver, "I fell in love with the view before anything else."

Be that as it may, the new release wines are most appealing and can be attributed to the care taken in the vineyard and the canny skills of Crawford. His Bone Dry riesling is very much a serious drinker's riesling, and the gewurztraminer is just as a decent gewurz should be - a hint of sweetness balancing the traditional flavours of lychee, melon, turkish delight and ginger.

Rich and full, it is hard to believe it is the first Kim Crawford has made.

"We've learned that you don't go in and tell the land what you're doing. It will tell you," says Erica.

The whole venture has been a labour of love; hence the name, Loveblock, and the Crawfords are off to a flying start, with many of the wines already destined for the American market.

Enter veteran American fine wine importer Anthony Terlato, a genial, smart operator with a fine palate and a keen eye for an excellent product.

"What I like about Loveblock and Kim Crawford as a winemaker is that he never talked about cases, he only ever talked about the soil and the wine.

"We've been importing wine into the United States for 60 years," he says.

"We have a select profile, we're not case-sellers, we're brand builders."

Terlato loves wine so much he's bought four wineries in California.

Having an enthusiastic importer and distributor is essential for a start-up brand, especially if it intends to sell overseas.

As anyone will tell you, making wine is the relatively easy part. Selling it has become far tougher. It's a competitive global market and you need all the friends and contacts you can muster.

"Eighty per cent of wine in the US is under $6 - it's bag-in-the-box - but quality endures. If you're at the bottom someone will always come along and undercut," says Terlato.

A reminder that New Zealand wine needs to protect its premium position.


Recommended

2011 Loveblock Bone Dry Riesling - $24

Exactly how it's described on the label: bone dry. A wine of exquisite precision, elegance and with restrained, understated fruit and a pleasing lightness with hints of honey, citrus and crisp acidity.

2011 Loveblock Pinot Gris - $24

Marlborough grapes create a wine with lovely mouth feel, a dash of minerality and dry finish. Not overt but with enhanced flavours of yellow wildflower, musk, melon, almond and lychee. A smart wine.

- NZ Herald

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