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Few wine drinkers will be unfamiliar with the name Cloudy Bay, the wine that put New Zealand and Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc on the world wine map. Kevin Judd was their founding winemaker and made the first 25 vintages, making him a true icon of the industry. A man of few words but many ideas, in 1993 he created a single vineyard wine, Cloudy Bay Greywacke Vineyard and that wine became their Cloudy Bay Te Koko label. Judd though registered the name Greywake, which is a type of sandstone found throughout New Zealand, thinking he might use it one day, but not expecting to as he was happy in his job.
Eventually though owners LVMH offered him an ambassadorial role and feeling that his time as a winemaker was far from over, he set up on his own in 2008 under the name he had registered 15 years earlier. He rented space at Dog Point winery, set up a few years earlier by other Cloudy Bay alumni, winemaker James Healy, and grape grower Ivan Sutherland, whose vineyards had supplied Cloudy Bay with fruit from the earliest days and he also agreed to supply Judd.
Kevin Judd pretty much defined New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in his time as winemaker at Cloudy Bay and then helped redefine it, creating a wholly different beast to it with his Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc label with its very distinctive aromatics and texture.
Grapes are sourced from the Wairau plains and the Southern Valleys, crushed and settled and decanted into old oak barrels where wild yeasts start the fermentation spontaneously, the tail end of which can take months. Before the next harvest, the wine is transferred to stainless steel tanks where it rests on lees for another eight months.
The result is a wine with none of the crass grassiness often associated with the variety. It starts, like a Chablis, with struck flint or match, but then there’s candied orange or peach fruit, a subtle shortbread like note from the lees ageing and a light herbal dill note with a sour cream texture to the palate, enlivened by a lime zest finish. A triumph. A fascinating alternative to an oak fermented Chardonnay from Burgundy and at a lower cost.