On the Trail

Greywacke Continues Cloudy Bay's Legacy

Ryan Woodhouse

I was excited about the prospect of reporting from the road this year in anticipation of my 2016 trip to New Zealand. The addition of our On the Trail blog a few months back was just the outlet I was looking for to provide both captivating images and information to our customers at home. One of the producers I was most excited about visiting was Greywacke, run by a man named Kevin Judd—the former winemaker from Cloudy Bay. Kevin is one of Marlborough’s pioneer winemakers whose career is intrinsically linked with the global profile of New Zealand wine. In 1983 he joined Selaks Wines and subsequently, he became the founding winemaker at Cloudy Bay performing a pivotal role during which he directed the company’s first twenty-five vintages. Kevin is undeniably one of the most experienced, respected and celebrated winemakers in the entire southern hemisphere. After decades in that role Kevin decided to move on from Cloudy Bay. Together with his wife Kimberley, they stuck out alone to start their own boutique label called “Greywacke” (named after the local rock found in Marlborough’s soil).

While Cloudy Bay remains a formidable powerhouse in NZ wine, I would highly recommend checking out Kevin’s wines. I think those of you who remember the “golden years” of Cloudy Bay will be transported back to when these wines took the whole world by storm. Other's not familiar with this era of winemaking will be getting to taste firsthand what decades of local knowledge can bring to the table. While mostly known for Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough’s top producers also make seriously world class Pinot Noir. Case in point the 2013 Greywacke Pinot. Marlborough's best Pinots typically come from what’s known as the Southern Valleys sub-region. This area is defined by ancient clay soils that give the Pinot’s lovely silky texture, mid palate weight and brightness of fruit. This wine from Greywacke is sourced predominantly from the hillside blocks of Yarrum Vineyard, a high density planted vineyard renowned for its quality fruit. Grapes are handpicked, fermented with wild yeast; hand plunged and then put to rest for 16 months in 30% new French oak barrels. The aromas and flavors and exotic and lifted. Asian spices, sandal wood, ripe red fruits, floral hints, clove; the palate is perfectly proportioned, medium bodied, soft fruit, silky tannins, the spice lifts the finish and well integrated oak teases out long on the palate. Very expressive and representative of this excellent vintage. A well judged synthesis of a great vineyard and expert winemaking talents; this is sure to be a winner.

You'll also notice that Kevin is a brilliant photographer. I wish I could say that I took the above photos, but—alas—I cannot tell a lie. The shots I took aren't nearly as inspiring. I'll have more stories from the road as soon as my next break permits!

-Ryan Woodhouse