Craggy Range Tasting Dinner

Pips - Las Vegas

Tasted April 22, 2009 by pgm with 330 views

Introduction

This tasting dinner showcased the wines of Craggy Range, which I wasn't familiar with. Overall, they were serious wines of very high quality, but I wasn't quite wowed (in part because they are expensive relative to their NZ and AUS peers). The Te Kahu was a thoughtfully done, and the Le Sol was quite provocative. In fact, the Le Sol was the one wine that I really would love to taste again, though I'm not positive I would really like it: it was just very distinctive and a forceful expression of... well, something different that I could quite come to grips with. It was my WOTN mostly by virtue of the intrigue. Others preferences seemed to vary based on their preference for each varietal.

In truth the food was the real star. The chef at Pips is a genuine talent. Each dish was inventive and very tasty.

Flight 1 (4 notes)

White
2008 Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Single Vineyard Te Muna Road Vineyard New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough
88 points
Lots of grapefruit, with some tropical (lychee?) notes, backing it up, and just the slightest grassy/vegetal edge to it. It's tart, but not overly so, with gooseberry coming on in the mouth, with the grapefruit present all the way through to the finish.
Red
2006 Craggy Range Pinot Noir Single Vineyard Te Muna Road Vineyard New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough
89 points
The oak dominates the nose, with everyone at the table identifying buttery vanilla and smoke. I thought it was precisely toasted marshmallow. But I don't want to overstate it or make it sound flawed: I thought the oak was backed up and balanced very well with good cherry fruit and pinot earthiness. Not a huge wine in the mouth, but the palate was bright again with pinot fruit. Very nice, but not extremely exciting. 89-90
Red
2004 Craggy Range Te Kahu Gimblett Gravels Vineyard New Zealand, North Island, Hawke's Bay, Gimblett Gravels
90 points
Has a rather old world profile, with the fruit showing lower ripeness levels from a cool climate location: pure currant fruit, with nice tobacco leaf and bell pepper. You won't confuse this with Napa. Highly enjoyable and distinctive.
Red
2005 Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol Gimblett Gravels Vineyard New Zealand, North Island, Hawke's Bay, Gimblett Gravels
90 points
An unusual style for syrah, unique in my experience. Lots of cracked pepper on the nose, and a very herbal stemmy quality comes on strong over the wild berry. Black currant in the mouth, with brambly tobacco and slightly green tannins, turning mineral and peppery on the finish. This seems very focused on the syrah varietal in a primal, natural kind of style.
I'm mixed overall: I think this wine could likely show very differently under different conditions (e.g., a long decant?) and be potentially amazing, but it seemed on this tasting to be quite austere and a little too restrained. Call it a 90, but with a big question mark.

Closing

We finished with a Prosecco that was not that great (and I didn't capture what it was).

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