Greywacke goes wild

Kevin Judd (pictured) also has the distinction of being New Zealand’s leading wine photographer. (Photo: Bob Campbell MW)

Kevin Judd founded Greywacke after working as chief winemaker and later general manager at Cloudy Bay for (by my estimate) 24 years before launching his own brand. Judd is, in my estimation, the country’s top specialist wine photographer. The genesis for Greywacke Wild Sauvignon was Cloudy Bay Te Koko; a funky, barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc that bent all the rules when it was made in 1992 and initially sold only through the cellar door.

Greywacke Wild Sauvignon is a blend from 10 different Marlborough vineyards which are machine-harvested at night. After pressing the juice is settled before being pumped into mostly old barrels and fermented using indigenous yeasts (about 15-20 different strains). The wine undergoes a partial malolactic fermentation and lees stirring (which reduces buttery characters).

A feature of Greywacke Wild Sauvignon is the distinctive mineral, struck flint, struck match characters that vary in intensity from vintage to vintage. Judd acknowledges the role of wild yeast fermentation and the use of solids in the formation of sulphides, which are controlled to some degree by controlling the level of solids in fermentation.

Greywacke Wild Sauvignon has gained minor cult status and is in high demand despite its relatively high price (for sauvignon blanc) of NZD $37.95.

The two “new” wines featured here are the 2015 and 2014 vintages of Greywacke Wild Sauvignon, whilst the previously reviewed 2013 to 2009 vintages fall into the “noteworthy” category.

The 2015 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon is a typically tight yet expressive wine that’s a little closed but promises to develop well with bottle age. This label can be enjoyed on first release but does need a little bottle age to express its full potential.

2014 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon has a little more richness and weight than the 2015, although bottle development might be at least partly responsible. It shows pronounced struck flint character.

The 2013 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon is less funky than the 2014, with more obvious stone fruit flavours. It has an impressive weight and mouth-feel. I liked this slightly more fruit-focused style and rated it with the same score awarded a little over one year ago.

2012 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon was from a cool vintage and has more herbal and capsicum character than usual – seems to have become more obvious after bottle age. I dropped the score by one point.

The 2011 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon is a remarkably youthful wine with overt struck flint character that slightly dominates stone fruit and citrus fruit flavours. Quite an austere style that needs food.

2010 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon is beginning to mellow. It has less funky character and more obvious stone fruit flavours. Accessible and appealing.

The 2009 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon (unsurprisingly) showed the most development but is still reasonably fresh. Score increased by one point to 94.

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