Cloudy Bay new releases
|If you’re looking for me next weekend
this is where I’ll be. Stunning!
Cloudy Bay. THE Marlborough icon. The winery that, along with Brancott (nee Montana), really propelled Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc into the popular headspace. Yet it’s also a winery that – and correct me if I’m wrong – doesn’t seem to have the cache that it did say six or so years ago. What’s most surprising perhaps is that, as these wines can attest to, the quality of the range itself hasn’t exactly waned. Is this popularity drop purely due to a now crowded Marlborough market, or does this perception go a little deeper than that?
Regardless the wines are good. Well made good. Regionally and varietally assured good, if perhaps not strictly exciting (though how can they be given the brand/style?) good. In other words, they’re good.
On the topic of Cloudy Bay I’m actually going to be visiting the estate this week, as a trip to the Cloudy Bay vineyards is part of the itinerary of the Marlborough Wine Weekend (which I’ll be attending. I’m quite excited actually). How much (brand) digging that I’ll be allowed to do whilst we’re there is questionable, but I’m hoping to at least get a better perception of the state of play.
What’s more interesting perhaps is the general reaction I get when I tell Australian wine trade members where I’m going. That reaction usually goes like this ‘Marlborough eh? A weekend of Sauvignon Blanc? Hate the stuff’ (or the like. Cue diatribe about Sauvignon Blanc).
It’s an attitude that I’m actually really surprised by – sure on a commercial level Marlborough IS Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s puzzling to hear wine people echo the sentiment. Have they not had a Marlborough Pinot Gris/Noir lately? Has Marlborough become a one trick pony? More to the point perhaps, why is Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, as a wine style, treated with such disrespect? Surely I’m not the only one that can see that it’s an entirely valid grape and terroir expression?
Anyway, those sorts of questions are (hopefully) ones that I’ll be attempting to answer this week (so expect a lot of Marlborough talk here on the blog. Oh and Marlboroughians it’s my first visit to your part of NZ so be gentle).
Now back to these Cloudy Bay wines:
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Marlborough, NZ)
All stainless ferment (no oak). pH 3.2. TA 7.5. 13.5% alc. RRP $35
From first whiff this is unmistakeable Marlborough Sauv. It smells thoroughly classical, with fresh passionfruit, gooseberry and herbs with just the
slightest lilt of tropical melon. The palate follows with a rather high acid form that looks a fraction angular has a great penetration through the finish. Perhaps the main criticisms here are that the acidity is rather searing, making for a wine that is anything but soft. I rather liked this, particularly with some chilli soft shell crab action, just showing again how spicy Asian food works so well with this style. 17.7/92
Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2008 (Marlborough, NZ)
Hand picked and barrel fermented with one year in oak. pH 3.22. TA 6.78. 14.5% alc. RRP $45
Lot of play-doh oak on this, with that barrel ferment richness dominating everything. It’s still noticeably Marlborough in style, with a quite classic, nougat/vanilla slice/cream and white peach nose, even if it’s all a case of toasty oak. Palate too is tinted with caramel oak, the fruit underneath rich and quite textural, finishing long if rather alcoholic. Chewy end. I actually started with a much higher score on this but after a while that oak toastiness became a slight turnoff. Not quite. 16.8/89
|Gewurtz got back|
Cloudy Bay Gewurtztraminer 2007 (Marlborough, NZ)
Sourced from estate vineyards at Rapaura in the Brancott Valley and off vines that yield just 2.5 tonnes/hectare (compared to up to ten tonnes to the hectare for the average Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in Marlborough). Hand picked fruit harvested at 24.9 Brix, pH 3.87 and TA 4.5. Hand picked, whole bunch pressed and fermented naturally in old oak barrels where it then spent 6 months on lees. Final figures: pH 3.61, TA 4.5, RS 8.6g/l, 13.6% alc. RRP $40
A sleeper. This really snuck up on on me. At first it looked plainly too sweet and rounded, but as it warmed up it just became really rather interesting (don’t serve it too cold). From what I can see this is very much a winemakers plaything and to me it tasted like the most loved and skillfully made wine in the lineup. Big yes from me, though I think this is a pretty divisive wine.
A big, floral lychee varietal nose on this one, looking ripe and full. Palate looks initially quite light but as it warms up it looks more and more viscous and hedonistically rich. Low acid evident on the palate with just a bit of oily flab, yet with lovely, concentrated, musky graininess through the finish. A fat bottomed girl to make the rocking world go round (and sure to improve with more bottle age) though probably not fat enough for Sir Mix-a-lot. The wine I want to take home. 18.1/93
Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2009 (Marlborough, NZ)
Six clones of Pinot used with the fruit arriving at the winery with average figures of 24.3 Brix a pH of 3.24 and TA of 8.6g/l. Fruit was 100% destemmed and spent several days cold soaking. Natural fermented with three weeks on skins. One year in oak, half new. Final figures: pH 3.66, TA 5.6, 14.1% alc. RRP $45 1
Surprisingly serious Pinot! It looks just a little charry and stewed at first, with an extractive and full nose that looks very pinoty if just a bit dense.. The palate
is much fresher and lighter, the cherry/raspberry/redcurrant mid palate generosity filling things out nicey, everything cast in some nice vanilla oak. There’s a slightly soapy warm edge but the tannins, backbone and structure are really genuinely high quality. Very nice form really!