Back in 2009 when Erica and Kim Crawford planted grapes on a windy, elevated sheep paddock on the hilltops overlooking Marlborough’s Awatere Valley, they reserved one block for experimentation, and for the ‘love’ wine.
On the challenging G block they planted singular varietals: Arneis, Chenin Blanc, Moscato, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, St Laurent, and Tempranillo, Loveblock now releases Erica and Kim’s playthings.
“As the name on the label indicates, a lot of what we do at Loveblock is for love and from love of wine,” says Erica. “We are devoted to organic farming and experimentation. We are pleased to be able to produce unique, small crops from this challenging growing environment on the top of the hill, to see what this different microclimate offers, and make wine with grapes we have not grown before. It has not always been easy.”
Noble Chenin Blanc
The star of Loveblock’s festive season release is undoubtedly the 2014 Noble Chenin Blanc, says founder Erica Crawford.
“The warm spring of 2013 brought ideal early growing conditions and a tip top flowering season. However, unexpected and heart breaking rain in April in Marlborough persisted for a few days and conditions made it dangerous and impossible for machinery to harvest the grapes on the hill block.
“When we returned after the rain, we found the Chenin Blanc grapes were in good condition and had botrytised 100 percent. A fortunate accident indeed.”
The wine is reminiscent of the Noble Chenins of the Loire, with a strong botrytis influence while retaining evidence of varietal character and its famous assertive acidity, Erica says.
Sadly, the experimental block has been ‘retired’ following the 2015 vintage ensuring it is unique in Loveblock’s portfolio.
“A combination of difficult soil, an extremely cold wind regularly pummelling the grapes, and a sustained attack by bronze beetle has forced us to take the decision.
“Hopefully, in future we will be able to redesign plantings for that part of the hill, now we know the conditions and the soil intimately. I guess it is the nature of experimentation,” says Erica.
For winemaker Kim, the harvest provided an opportunity to experiment with Moscato ‘two ways’, in sweet and dry sparkling styles.
“I have had a bit of experience with Moscato in South Africa many years ago,” says Kim “where it is known as Hanepoot. The flavours of this varietal are so seductive, a lot of grapes are eaten by the pickers during harvest time.”
Kim says the sweet wine is made in a Beaumes de Venise style which involves fortification with grain alcohol. “In contrast, the ripe fruit and orange blossom on the nose belies the dryness of the sparkling methode traditionelle wine, where peach and honey plays on the palate.”
The G block vintages are joined by two certified organic wines from elsewhere on the Loveblock Farm, low alcohol Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
The acidity of the 2012 Riesling – also from the high hill top of the farm – balances its semi sweetness, Kim says. “This, together with the low alcohol, makes for perfect and safe afternoon sipping.”
“Gewürztraminer, with its rosewater and orange zest, pairs unexpectedly well with ‘African’ chicken, where cloves are used, a Sunday night tradition in the Crawford home.”
Loveblock wines are available at all Glengarry stores, Glengarry online or at selected Auckland New World and fine wine shops nationwide.
Loveblock 2014 Moscato Brut, Loveblock 2014 Gewurztraminer and Loveblock 2012 Riesling RRP$24.99.
Loveblock 2014 Noble Chenin Blanc and 2014 Loveblock Sweet Moscato RRP$29.99.
An unrelenting passion for winemaking and a strong belief in ethical farming are the founding principles behind Loveblock. For owners Kim and Erica Crawford, it’s about evoking the essence of their terroir to the best of their ability while keeping their environment – a treasured and formidable 85-hectare landscape in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley. Loveblock makes a collection of earth-loving organic and sustainable wines.
For more visit www.loveblockwine.com