We first enjoyed Kim Crawford wines well over a decade ago just about the time his wine was first hitting the US market. They were bright and exciting and gained immense popularity. Crawford helped put New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on the world stage and innovated with the now so popular screw tops.
Fast forward about 15 years and here we are tasting three contemporary bottles from the winery that still bears his name, a new wine maker, Anthony Walkenhorst, is creating wines that serve the Crawford legacy well.
The wine that started it all, Sauvignon Blanc, is where we started, paired with a “Mod Oz” inspired dinner, it was most enjoyable. More mature, fuller and refined than I remember the wines of the early 2000s to be. Those were firecracker bright with exploding flavors the world had not seen before. This 2014 vintage bottle had much excitement but a deeper beauty that to my mind always comes with maturity.
We tasted a sip of the well-crafted unoaked Chardonnay and the flavorsome Pinot Gris, but the Sauvignon Blanc was the perfect match for our smoked Arctic Char, and the farm fresh steamed asparagus and roasted baby potatoes. We accompanied the food with a vivid dill sour cream sauce and one made with peppery harrisa. As potent as these flavors where the wine resonated and persisted with layers of perfect flavors.
A couple of weeks earlier I found Anthony Walkenhorst’s Chardonnay on the menu while on vacation at the Carmel Valley Ranch Resort and enjoyed a glass by the pool. I told you Crawford wines are ubiquitous. it was impressive but muted by the plastic glass required for poolside sipping. It was not until we poured a bottle into good Riedel glasses and served it, two days old, with a homemade turkey soup brought by friends to another dinner that this wine really shined. At first on first taste the fruit was too colorful for me, but with air it settled into a beautifully balanced glass that we loved.
The Pinot Gris was an instant favorite too. Called Pinot Grigio in Italy, Pinot Gris in France, and by either name elsewhere around the world, depending on the style and marketing design, this grape that put Italian wine back on the map with Santa Margarita has been much exploited, a victim of its own success. It is a pleasure to enjoy the conscientious work of a wine maker that allows this grape to be all it can be.
I hear that Kim and his wife Erica are on to other projects, but what you might call a dynasty that they began in there Auckland Kitchen two decades ago lives on with glory and we are so happy it has.