I am fortunate to have received an annual tasting case from the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association. This year the vintage under the spotlight is 2016 and there were eight blended reds and four syrahs in the dozen. Andrew Caillard MW selected the wines.
I must take my hat off to this industry body because, if more wine regions in the world undertook these thoughtful initiatives, wine writers would be able to taste more widely than we do without having to incur prohibitively punitive travel expenses. Interestingly, Craggy Range had two bottles in the box and they ended up being my top two wines. I tasted this pair again at the annual New Zealand tasting in London within days of my first tasting and they shone brightly, taking every corner of the country into account, not just Gimblett Gravels.
Gimblett Gravels makes the most structured and age-worthy of all Kiwi red-wine styles and 2016 is a powerful and focused vintage. In addition to the epic, peppery, blood-drenched syrah, with its smoky kindling touches and succulent core, the 2016 Craggy Range Sophia (about £50, arriving into Jeroboams, Farr Vintners and Hedonism imminently), a merlot/cabernet franc/cabernet sauvignon blend, looked both regal and belligerent, hinting at greatness beneath its earth-driven, not fruit-driven, suit of armour. Both wines will be drinking within five years, but they will make the long haul, too.
• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com).