Recently, Sunda hosted a winetasting for New Zealand Craggy Range Winery. As a huge fan of this region’s wines, you didn’t have to twist my arm to attend. The Hawkes Bay winery produces both red and white wine and on this evening, it offered a tasting of five wines.
Needless to say, after trying their wines, my love of New Zealand wines continues.
Sauvignon Blanc, Te Muna Road Vineyard 2009, $24.25
A personal favorite, this kicked off the evening and it didn’t disappoint. The wine was dry, fruity with citrus and lime flavors, not too acidic and very light. This is a good all-around summer wine and more drinkable than other Sauvignon Blancs. A must buy.
Chardonnay, C3 Kidnapper’s Vineyard, 2009, $24.25
Wary of tasting it--not a fan of Chardonnays--this one was a pleasant surprise. It was light and not oaky, tasting more like a Sauvignon Blanc. It had a crispy, fruit flavor and no after taste. If you “had” to buy a Chardonnay, buy this one. It’s perfect for a hot summer day.
Fletcher Family Riesling
Not officially part of the tasting, I arrived early enough to have a sample before the sole bottle was empty. I usually find Rieslings too sweet and undrinkable, but this one was very dry and not Riesling as many American wine drinkers know it. It was light, citrusy, refreshing and very enjoyable.
Pinot Noir, Te Muna Road Vineyard, 2008, $48
One of my favorites, I started the red tastings with Pinot Noir and unfortunately, I was disappointed. I took a sip and immediately made a face (so did the guy next to me). It tasted bitter-- maybe tart—and while it was very light, I didn’t enjoy it. After I let it breathe a bit, I slightly warmed up to it but I didn’t change my mind.
Merlot/Carbernet/CabFranc/Malbec blend, Te Kahu Gimblett Gravels, 2009, $24.25
An interesting blend of grapes, this wine had a nice, spicy plum flavor. One taste didn’t stick out; it was just a nice comfortable blend that would go with everything. For the summer, it’s not too heavy.
Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, Sophia, Gimblett Graves 2005, $64
Between the year and the price, I knew this wine would be good. The thoroughbred of the group, this full blend had plum and cherry aroma with dark chocolate and licorice flavors. Save this wine for special occasions, but damn, it’s good.
Overall, Craggy Range has a great group of wines. Winemaker Steve Smith was in attendance that evening and I asked him to name a great U.S. wine city; he quickly responded San Francisco (open-mindedness). He noted that he is influenced the by Bordeaux and yes, Sophia is also his favorite.
Craggy Range Wines can be found at LUSH’s three locations.
1257 South Halsted
Chicago, IL 60607
1412 West Chicago
Chicago, IL 60642
2232 West Roscoe
Chicago, IL 60618