A great Bordeaux chateau hosts…

… A New Zealand wine tasting

For the second time around and within its ‘extra-ordinary’ tastings cycle, Château Brane-Cantenac, second classified growth, Margaux, France, welcomed wineries from « elsewhere in the winemaking world » !

And boy am sorry to have missed this!

Two years ago, Henri Lurton had opened the doors of Château Brane-Cantenac to the California Vintners Association and conducted a tasting of 12 California cabernets. This time, together with Ch’ng Poh Tiong, the wine writer and publisher of The Wine Review, and Steve Smith, MW, general manager of Craggy Range in Gimblett Gravels, he welcomed 6 wineries from the East of the Northern Island of New Zealand and again invited neighbors and friends to an interesting discovery of these great wines, quite unfamiliar to us. A brilliant idea and for all involved, a beautiful stroll amongst various vintages and terroirs of New Zealand.

The time : 10 :30 am

The format : a free-standing tasting, with 6 stations for the wineries, each featuring 3 vintages of the same wine, followed by a luncheon afterwards

List of the wines tasted : Craggy Range, ‘Sophia’ : 2009, 2007, 2005
Craggy Range, ‘The Quarry’ : 2009, 2007, 2005
Trinity Hill, ‘The Gimblett’ : 2009, 2007, 2004
Church Road, ‘Tom’ : 2009, 2007, 2005
Sacred Hill, ‘The Helmsmann’ : 2009, 2007, 2006
Villa Maria, ‘Reserve’ : 2009, 2007, 2005

The region :
The Gimblett Winegrowing District is a winegrowing designation and appellation defined by the statutes fo vignerons that own land and make wine on an ancient riverbed. It was created because there exists no operational appellation or designation in New Zealand that applies to winegrowing.
This designation is defined by the rules of the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association withthe ultimate expression of those rules allowing the members to use the trademark Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing District. One can only use that name if at least 95% of the source of the grapes composing a wine come from a soil within the boundaries of the the district. The soil in the vineyards is scientifically described to be a particular phase of gravelly alluvial soil left high and dry after the floods of 1967.

The varietals : A typical bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec, petit verdot and merlot.

List of the Bordeaux guests which attended the event and then rated the top three wines :

Domaine Edmond de Rothschild : Georges Alnot and Yann Buchwalter
Château Palmer : Thomas Duroux
Château Léoville Barton and Langoa Barton : Lilian and Michel Sartorius
Château Carbonnieux : Eric Perrin
Château de Beauregard : Vincent Priou
Château Léoville Las Cases : Tamara Mc Intosh
Château Léoville Poyferré : Anne Cuvelier
Château la Conseillante : Bertrand Nicolas
Château Dauzac : Christine Lurton
Château Coutet : Aline Baly
Château Latour de Bessan : Marie Laure Lurton
Châteaux Giscours et du Tertre : Alexander Van Beeck
Château Poujeaux : Christophe Labenne
Château Beychevelle : Philippe Blanc
Château d’Angludet : Allan Sichel
Château Pichon Baron , Petit Village et Suiduiraut : Christian Seely
Château Clerc Milon Rothschild : Jean Emmanuel Danjoy
Château Calon Ségur : Vincent Millet
Château Lafon Rochet : Michel Tesseron and Lucas Leclerc
Château Kirwan : Nathalie Schyler
Château Pétrus : jean Claude Berrouet
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande : Gildas d’Olone
Mr Viaud, Michel Rolland Lab
Mr Eric Boissenot, Oenologist
Mr Laurent Ehrmann, Barrière Frères, négociant
Mr Yann Jestin, Broker
Mr Philippe Chatonnet, University of Bordeaux
Jane Anson, Decanter.com
Thibault Reichell and Alain Aviotte : Planet Vins et Spiritueux
Guy Charneau : Tast

The three wines which won the ‘contest’ as the favorite of our guests :

1)Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ 2009 :
60% merlot, 28% cab sauv%, 9% cab franc, 3% petit verdot
Yield : 40 hl/ha, 20 months in 45% new oak
Sophia is the ‘grand vin’ of Craggy Range’s Gimblett Gravels Vineyard. Always based on merlot with proportions of cab franc and cab sauv forming the next two components. In some vintages, some malbec and some petit verdot play an important part in the blend. Traditional winemaking but highly tuned with fermentation and maceration in large vats, followed by ageing in small French oak up to 20 months. Assemblage (blending) takes place after 6 months in the oak barrel and a careful egg fining before bottling. The price is roughly 35-40£ a bottle.

2)Craggy Range ‘The Quarry’ 2007 :
83% cab sauv, 9% merlot, 8% cab franc,
Yield : 37 hl/ha
20 months in 64% new oak
The Quarry is sourced from the heart of the stoniest soils of Craggy Range’s Gimblett Gravels Vineyard. Its production is driven by a passion to make fine wines from Cabernet Sauvignon and a great love and respect for the wines of the Médoc. In most vintages, the cuvée is made up of at leat 85% cabernet sauvignon with a small portion of merlot. The vines used to make this wine grow very close to the gravelly soil and since 2006 are made up entirely of clonal planting material from Bordeaux. Winemaking is almost identical to that of Sophia.

3) tied…Church Road, ‘ Tom’, 2007 and Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ 2007 :
Craggy Range Sophia 2007 : 81% merlot, 10% cab franc, 7% cab sauv, 2% malbec
Yield : 43hl/ha, 18 months in 50% new oak. See notes on Sophia up above
Church Road Tom 2007 : 81% merlot, 19% cabernet sauvignon,
Yield 58 hl/ha, 13 months in 75% new oak
Church Road is one of the oldest working wineries in New Zealand with a history of winemaking on the current site dating back to 1897 . For most of the 1900’s the winery was owned and managed by Tom McDonald, a pioneer of the modern quality wine industry in New Zealand. A love for the great wines of Bordeaux saw Tom McDonald establish the first commercially made Cabernet Sauvignon in New Zealand, a wine that went on to receive multiple accolades from both local and international wine writers of the day. Today our flagship red wine, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is now named in honour of Tom and is made only in the most favourable vintages.

Excerpts from Steve Smith’s welcome address :
‘For those of us on the other side of the world much of our fine wine inspiration comes from the great wines of France and their producers. Many of us have visited these great producers and all who have ambitions to make fine wine have crafted their inspiration from those visits. Two weeks spent in Bordeaux in the summer of 1991, as a young man with no money, set me on a path that has become my life’s ambition. Here I tasted the young wines of 1990 from barrel, a seminal moment for me not just because of the wines but because of the place that is Bordeaux.
So I am deeply honoured to be in Bordeaux today, at Château Brane-Cantenac , with our wines and those of some fine friends and colleagues from my region. These wines , all of them, are crafted by the inspiration of Bordeaux, are from a young fledgling part of New Zealand, the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing District. They represent some of the very best of the wine styles that are produced in our country. They make no aspiration to be ‘Bordeaux like’ as these wines are ours. THey make no statement of a comparison. They simply speak for our place and our people and we invite you to that experience.

The inspiration for a tasting such as this reflects the natural inquisitiveness fo those involved in the fine wines of the world and where our future as wine producers lie. ‘
Some quotes from our guests :
‘We loved the tasting of this new region from New Zealand. It was interesting to note that the terroir is also important and that vintages are very distinct too. I found that the 2007s are fresh and well balanced. We had a great time and look forward to our next bottle of Gimblett Gravels wine’. Lilian Barton Sartorius, château Léoville Barton (St Julien)
‘Great Bordeaux varietals put in music in the antipodes by talented winemakers from new zealand. A marvelous exchange, to be done again as soon as possible’. Vincent Priou, château Beauregard, Pomerol
‘A tasting of New Zealand wines in Margaux… a welcomed, enriching set back between two worlds with always the same objective, that of finding the perfect balance in a different reality’ Jean Emmanuel Danjoy, château Clerc Milon Rothschild, Pauillac
‘A magnificent tasting ! Remarkable 2007’s…great balance, finesse, great harmony and complexity’Nathalie Schyler, château Kirwan, margaux
‘A unique opportunity to taste a great sampling of red wines from New Zealand. Some of them are beautiful wines , well balanced, classy and elegant’ Christophe Labenne, château Poujeaux, Moulis
‘A beautiful tasting which revealed great New Zealand cabernets from Gimblett Gravels which will enthrall all the amateurs of fine wines’ Anne Cuvelier, château Léoville Poyferré, St Julien
‘A fantastic Kiwi wine tasting ! Elegant, balanced, most enjoyable wines ! Looking forward to presenting our wines to our New Zealand counterparts down under !’ Philippe Blanc, château Beychevelle, St Julien
‘Rather impressed, notably by the 2007’s for their depth and balance, and particularly by the Craggy Range Series’ Laurent Ehrmann, Barrière Frères, négociant
‘It was extremely interesting to taste Bordeaux’s varietals and blends in a completely different environment and still being able to recognize the strength and elegance of Bordeaux’s wines. The ambiance was great, the company wonderful and the wines were a treat !’ Marie martinez Ojeda, Quality control manager, Brane Cantenac.
‘From New Zealand where men of character enhance an original nature by producing wines with unexpected complexity and subtlety. They do not create wines that compete with ours but rather wines which are our embassadors, expressing the classic basics taught in college, namely harmony and balance, and which do not fall into the trap that excess is so as to give the illusion of quality. Basically, they are the image of their rugby : they defend the real values of life !’ Jean-Claude Berrouet, château Petrus, Pomerol

Media contact : Corinne Conroy, Château Brane-Cantenac, 33460 Margaux, France, +33 557 88 83 27
[email protected]

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