Midas Touch

The WineNZ tastings are set up so the result can only be influenced by what’s in the glass. It is impossible for those of us involved to have favourites – wines that might do a little better than they otherwise would because we know the owner of the winery, or who the winemaker is.

And that’s exactly the way it should be. However, when the great reveal takes place after the scores are in and the stars have been awarded, it is always nice to see some of the good guys of the industry end up on top.

It happened at our winter chardonnay tasting when the EIT stewards pulled back the metaphorical curtain to let the judges see which of the line-up of wines was their pick. There on top of the pile was Greywacke.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the person behind Greywacke —Kevin Judd — for a recent issue of WineNZ, and he’s an impressive guy.

For those who are unfamiliar with the New Zealand wine scene, Kevin was the founding winemaker at Cloudy Bay and his wine was one of the driving forces that created the Marlborough sauvignon blanc phenomenon. He then established Greywacke about a decade ago and his success has been phenomenal, with every variety he touches turning to gold. Kevin has entered WineNZ tastings only a handful of times, yet he has had a top sauvignon blanc (of course), the country’s best pinot noir (with a Marlborough wine) and now the best chardonnay for the second time.

Kevin Judd – top winemaker.
Picture: Jamie Goode.

It is a result that would be statistically near impossible if the judges were not utterly consistent and the wines were not spectacular. Kevin’s 2013 chardonnay was top in 2016 and now his 2015 is top wine.

There are a lot of decisions when making wine, sometimes compromises are made, sometimes not. Clearly with Greywacke, compromises are never made. Ever.

The judges for the chardonnay tasting all thought this wine was bonzer. Barry, possibly the most excitable of the trio when it comes to chardonnay, said “I love it, I love it”.

Simon said, “I want to recognize this wine for its excellence.” Earlier he had said New Zealand’s top chardonnays are now among the best in the world, so as the highest scoring of Kiwi chardonnays, this is really up there – and at a spectacularly good price. Goodness knows what you’d pay for a wine of this quality if it came out of Burgundy.

Matt said it was plush, with perfect fruit weight.

So there we have it – a wine made by a genius, whose assistant winemaker is a sheepdog. He doesn’t have his own winery buildings, doesn’t have many of his own vines, but produces one of the best chardonnays in the world.

But isn’t that the magic of the wine business? There are billionaires who have bought wineries in this country, along with many millionaires, but money can’t buy the success achieved by a winemaker with the Midas touch.

While Greywacke was top wine, it was a 2015 vintage, which had matured delightfully. The top 2018 wine, however, was snapping at Kevin Judd’s heels and should be recognized for its quality, and also its potential. The wine in question is the Jules Taylor OTQ (On the quiet). It is a reductive style and was the equal of the Greywacke with one of the judges. Chief winemaker is Jules Taylor, who is assisted by her husband George. They’re clearly doing a lot of things right with their chardonnay, as well as their sauvignon blanc, which has had a great reputation for the past 18 years.

Interestingly, three of the four five-star wines are from Marlborough, with one being from Hawke’s Bay. Get your act together Gisborne – isn’t chardonnay supposed to be your thing? It’s one thing having promotional events to tell people how good your chardonnay is – it is another proving it by entering professional tastings and collecting five stars.

And that’s exactly the way it should be. However, when the great reveal takes place after the scores are in and the stars have been awarded, it is always nice to see some of the good guys of the industry end up on top.

Mendoza chardonnay grapes that are used to produce Greywacke wine.

It happened at our winter chardonnay tasting when the EIT stewards pulled back the metaphorical curtain to let the judges see which of the line-up of wines was their pick. There on top of the pile was Greywacke.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the person behind Greywacke —Kevin Judd — for a recent issue of WineNZ, and he’s an impressive guy.

For those who are unfamiliar with the New Zealand wine scene, Kevin was the founding winemaker at Cloudy Bay and his wine was one of the driving forces that created the Marlborough sauvignon blanc phenomenon. He then established  Greywacke about a decade ago and his success has been phenomenal, with every variety he touches turning to gold. Kevin has entered WineNZ tastings only a handful of times, yet he has had a top sauvignon blanc (of course), the country’s best pinot noir (with a Marlborough wine) and now the best chardonnay for the second time.

It is a result that would be statistically near impossible if the judges were not utterly consistent and the wines were not spectacular. Kevin’s 2013 chardonnay was top in 2016 and now his 2015 is top wine.

There are a lot of decisions when making wine, sometimes compromises are made, sometimes not. Clearly with Greywacke, compromises are never made. Ever.

The judges for the chardonnay tasting all thought this wine was bonzer. Barry, possibly the most excitable of the trio when it comes to chardonnay, said “I love it, I love it”.

Simon said, “I want to recognize this wine for its excellence.” Earlier he had said New Zealand’s top chardonnays are now among the best in the world, so as the highest scoring of Kiwi chardonnays, this is really up there – and at a spectacularly good price. Goodness knows what you’d pay for a wine of this quality if it came out of Burgundy.

Matt said it was plush, with perfect fruit weight.

So there we have it – a wine made by a genius, whose assistant winemaker is a sheepdog. He doesn’t have his own winery buildings, doesn’t have many of his own vines, but produces one of the best chardonnays in the world.

But isn’t that the magic of the wine business? There are billionaires who have bought wineries in this country, along with many millionaires, but money can’t buy the success achieved by a winemaker with the Midas touch. 

While Greywacke was top wine, it was a 2015 vintage, which had matured delightfully. The top 2018 wine, however, was snapping at Kevin Judd’s heels and should be recognized for its quality, and also its potential. The wine in question is the Jules Taylor OTQ (On the quiet). It is a reductive style and was the equal of the Greywacke with one of the judges.  Chief winemaker is Jules Taylor, who is assisted by her husband George. They’re clearly doing a lot of things right with their chardonnay, as well as their sauvignon blanc, which has had a great reputation for the past 18 years.

Interestingly, three of the four five-star wines are from Marlborough, with one being from Hawke’s Bay. Get your act together Gisborne – isn’t chardonnay supposed to be your thing? It’s one thing having promotional events to tell people how good your chardonnay is – it is another proving it by entering professional tastings and collecting five stars.



Leave a Reply