Crawfords back with organic wines


Back in the 1800s a farmer at Bendigo, in Central Otago, found the body of a young man on his property.

His identity was a mystery.

So the farmer did the decent thing, buried the body and erected a simple cross on which was engraved: "Someone's Darling".

Today the land, or part of it, is covered in grape vines - pinot noir, of course.

They were planted in 2008 in what is said to be the warmest part of Central by one of the smartest couples in the New Zealand wine industry.

Who else but winemaker Kim Crawford and his business-savvy wife Erica, who in 2003 sold their hugely successful Kim Crawford label (and that is all it was, no vineyards, no winery, just a label) to Vincor, now part of the wine giant Constellation, for a sum approaching $60 million.

The Crawfords named their little (eight hectare) Central vineyard Someone's Darling - what else?

And finding a name for the 73-hectare property they bought and have planted with vines in the hills overlooking the Awatere Valley in Marlborough was pretty straightforward, too.

They called it Loveblock Farm because they loved the place.

Both are names with which we'll become a lot more familiar over the next few years if I know the Crawfords, who as part of their deal with Vincor and Constellation were prevented from making and marketing wine on their own behalf till now.

Hence the launch in New Zealand of Loveblock Vintners' new Loveblock label just a couple of months ago.

The wines include a sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, gewurztraminer, riesling, and pinot gris, all grown organically and biodynamically in Marlborough, and a pinot noir from Someone's Darling Central Otago vineyard which should be fully organic next year.

At this stage the wines are still being produced in relatively small quantities (tempranillo, Saint Laurent and muscato are merely playthings at the moment) and are being sold mostly over the internet and in the United States, which also remains a big market for the Crawford label. When they do become more widely available and start popping up on winestore shelves they should immediately catch the eye and charm the palate.

The label is country-chic, if there is such a thing: A posy painted by Wanaka artist Pete McDonald.

And the wines? Because they are organic and the winemaker's toolbox is limited they should, says Kim Crawford, be a pure expression of the vineyard site. The hand- print of the winemaker should be much less obvious.

"The winemaker needs to be more careful. The flavours are more fragile and the of balance we strive for in the vineyard must be retained."

At Loveblock this means processing in small wineries in Marlborough and Central Otago and allowing wines to progress at their own pace.

"We want the vintage and place to speak in the fruit flavour and we want to make elegant and constrained wines in the context of these factors."

Good wines. Here are some of them:

Loveblock 2011 Central Otago Pinot Noir, $39.95
A ballsy, brooding wine that will be all the better for a bit more time in the bottle.

But for those who cannot wait, this earthy, savoury, red- fruited mouthfiller should still have plenty of appeal.

Loveblock 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, $23.95
The importance to Kim Crawford of the texture and the mouthfeel of the wines he makes is obvious in this sauvignon blanc.

White peaches and limes and trademark Awatere Valley tomato leaf.

Loveblock 2011 Bone Dry Marlborough Riesling, $23.95
The maker calls it a riesling drinker's riesling. Citrus-driven with a shake of spice and a scrape of honey and a residual sugar level of just 1.4 grams a litre. Crisp and cleansing.

The Southland Times