Jane Anson picks her top five wines from a Cloudy Bay tasting of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir vintages going back to 1987 and 1998 respectively, organised as part of the winery's 30th anniversary.
I was lucky enough to attend the recent Cloudy Bay 30th anniversary tasting at London‘s Somerset House, held to mark three decades of the winery founded by David Hohnen and Kevin Judd, and now owned by luxury goods giant LVMH.
We tasted through the 2015, 2010, 1998, 1992 and 1987 Cloudy Bay vintages of Sauvignon Blanc and 2010, 2003, 2001 and 1988 vintages of Pinot Noir. The most recent two vintages were under screwcap.
Jane Anson’s top wines from the Cloudy Bay anniversary tasting:
On pre-release, just bottled in August. Cloudy Bay has clearly taken note of criticisms that surfaced around five years ago that over-production was dulling the style of the wine. This is back to those star bright Sauvignon Blanc aromas, thrillingly tight, packed with flavor and poise.
The emphasis is on stone and tropical fruits (they pick relatively late, and peel back canopy shade on the fruit during the growing season to chase the pyrazine away). Fresh acidities suggest good ageing potential.
I love this leap back five years, it brings a softening of the freshly cut-grass aromatics, the mid palate is a little creamier and is showing attractive savoury herbs. A portion of the fruit (20%, 6-15 year old oak) has undergone a barrel ferment to round out the structure.
This was a ripe and powerful year, but there is still great freshness and acidity on show with this wine.
Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc 1998
Stockist: At auction / Contact winery
The colour has deepened, heading to amber and gold. Bottled under cork (the first year with screwcap was 2003), there is a greater impact of oxidation – partly also due to the warmest vintage on record.
This translates into pretty smoky hazelnut and dried mango flavours, with touches of honey. Real complexity on display, still lovely power and intensity. Salted butter on the aftertaste, this sits at a very pretty stage of evolution.
Cloudy Bay, Pinot Noir 2003
Stockist: Canterbury Wines (Australia) $28*
Around half of the crop was lost to frost in 2003. I love the savoury edge to the fruit here. It doesn’t have the same aromatic impact as the 2010 vintage, but shows potential to develop complexity with a little bottle ageing. Soft tannins, gentle persistency, sweet tobacco leaf on the finish. Bottled under screwcap.
Worth exploring the more recent vintages also. More recently, there is greater emphasis on florality and red fruits, and about 25% whole bunch vinification with less new oak.
Tasted at the dinner, not in the vertical, this was the best Pinot of the night for me; full of juicy blackberry fruits with precision and a sense of restraint. Described beautifully by Tim as ‘tasty, adult Pinot’, 2010 was the first vintage of this bottling, and is developing into a complex and beautiful wine.