Smith & Sheth have landed

(L-R) Brian Sheth, Claudia Weersing, Steve Smith MW and Mike Weersing at Pyramid Valley, which was purchased by Sheth. (Photo: Smith & Sheth Wines)

Talented viticulturist/winemaker Steve Smith MW and American software billionaire Brian Sheth have joined forces to launch a new label, simply called “CRU”. They plan to specialise in Hawke’s Bay chardonnay and syrah as well as have a bit of a dabble with Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

Why “CRU”?

“Cru is a French word meaning ‘vineyards of exceptional quality’,” explained Smith, “and that’s what we are all about. We are making wine by hand selecting the best parcels from exceptional vineyards.”

“The concept was partly inspired by British negociants who develop strong relationships with grape growers to source great parcels of grapes and wine. Their reputation is built on the strength of the wines they sell. We have made the most of over 35 years of experience with the growers and makers of New Zealand – forging relationships, hand selecting the best parcels from exceptional vineyards only, then nurturing, blending and bottling these wines.”

I tasted three wines – all impressive considering they are the first release from a brand-new producer.I tasted three wines – all impressive considering they are the first release from a brand-new producer. The Smith & Sheth 2017 CRU Wairau Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough is a taut and powerful wine, an impressive result from a challenging vintage. I enjoyed a glass with dinner a few hours after opening the bottle. With a little air time, the wine had opened up revealing an even greater depth of fruit than I had at first experienced. It promises to develop well with bottle age. (NZD $27)

The Smith & Sheth 2016 CRU Howell Vineyard Chardonnay from Hawke’s Bay was even more impressive, although it too was still very youthful with locked in flavours. A stylish and quite “modern” chardonnay with appealing hazelnut and mineral/struck flint characters. (NZD $60)

My favourite of the trio was the Smith & Sheth 2016 CRU Heretaunga Vineyard Chardonnay from the Bridge Pa subregion of Hawke’s Bay. It was a little more open and approachable than the Howell Vineyard Chardonnay with stone fruit and mineral characters. A weighty and sophisticated wine with cellaring potential. (NZD $40)

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