Craggy Range is one of the most widely respected Hawkes Bay wineries, one visit to their winery and restaurant by the Tuki Tuki river with a panoramic view of Te Mata Peak is hard not to be taken in by the surroundings alone. Craggy wines have had mixed fortunes over the vintages, I have found a distinct and widening difference between the 'Estate' wines and their Prestige range.
Originally the Prestige wines were a quartet - the Sophia (meaning 'Wisdom') is the Bordeaux blend, a carefully constructed assemblage of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Le Sol (meaning the Soil) 100% Syrah. Both of these come from their best fruit on the Gimblett Gravels, readily recognised as a special sub-region of Hawkes Bay. Les Beaux Cailloux (the beautiful pebbles) was their top tier Chardonnay, with the Aroha (love) a Pinot Noir added to the range in 2006 from their Te Muna blocks in Martinborough.
It hasn't been smooth sailing though - the Chardonnay block that produced arguably one of NZ's best was ravaged by a virus, forcing Craggy Range to uproot the entire site making 2011 the last vintage of Les Beaux Cailloux. If you can get your hands on one of these beauties it is one of the closest comparisons you'll find to a French Meursault. To add to that, the 2012 vintage in Hawkes Bay was an annus horriblis - a cold wet growing season meaning inferior quality fruit, unsuitable to making both the Sophia and Le Sol wines of the range.
Then comes one of those years that vingerons and winemakers dream of, 2013 is roundly considered to be the 'Vintage of the Decade' for Hawkes Bay. Good fruit set, long hot summer, and even tempered dry picking meant the fruit is of exceptional ripeness and quality. The combination of the lack of 2012 wines, and the international acclaim for the 2013 season means the Craggy Range prestige wines are in high demand.
The 2013 lineup is released from the winery in the first week of June, we were lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the Sophia and Le Sol - both looking outstanding in terms of their length, ripeness and tannins... of course well before their prime and we will look forward to seeing how they will develop over the coming years. If prior great vintages are anything to go by the Hawkes Bay reds will need a bare minimum of another 5 years before opening, developing further for yet another 5 after that. The Aroha should be more approachable earlier in life, hitting its prime in about 4 years from now.
Wineseeker has a small allocation of these available for pre-order at special prices until 1 June 2015. Purchase below by adding to cart and proceed to checkout. Your order will be ready after 1 June 2015 and we will confirm once it is ready for shipment or pickup in store as you choose. Or if you have any questions you can contact Michael Hutton in-store by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 04 473 0228.
It may be some time before we see a vintage of this quality again so make sure you get your cellar in shape.