Loveblock Wines – Redefining New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

If there is any wine with a quintessential style, it is New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Grassy, herbacious and zingy, it is hard to miss it when it is in your glass. But, more and more, New Zealand winemakers are showing more restraint and making a different, more elegant, style of Sauvignon Blanc. One of those wineries is Loveblock Wines in Marlborough, owned by Kim and Erica Crawford. The same people famous for that classic style are making wines of balance, elegance and beauty, which I wrote about recently in the Napa Valley Register and am sharing here.

When one thinks of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, it is typically of a wine with big pungent aromatics of lime, gooseberry, grapefruit, passion fruit, pineapple, lemongrass, fresh-cut grass, green bell pepper, and jalapeno and zesty, high acidity on the palate.

This style of Sauvignon Blanc put the wine region of Marlborough on the international wine map. And, one of the brands that is the epitome of this style is Kim Crawford Wines. Today, the same people who started Kim Crawford Wines, Kim and Erica Crawford, are defining the style of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and more.

Erica Crawford, originally from South Africa, has a background in medical science. She met Kim Crawford, a New Zealand winemaker, and moved to New Zealand with him. In 1996, while working as head winemaker for Cooper’s Creek winery, Kim Crawford started a virtual winery. Buying grapes from contract growers and making wine in leased facilities allowed them to make wine with little overhead.

Erica, who had two babies 13 months apart, was not looking to go back to work full time. So, she started helping Kim with his virtual winery, managing and developing the brand. It was 1996, and New Zealand was just starting to develop on the global map. Kim Crawford Wines was one of the first three New Zealand wines to come to the United States, and within seven years, Kim Crawford Wines was the country’s 10th largest winery in global sales.

In 2006, the Crawford’s sold the brand name, Kim Crawford Wines, to Constellation brands. But they kept the property, the Eros Vineyard in Marlborough, that they had bought in 2002. Originally planted to Pinot Noir, today it is planted to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. And, in the mid-2000s, they purchased a property in the hills of Awatere Valley in Marlborough. Named Loveblock Farm, the land was a former sheep station that they converted to plant-able land. During this process, they also shifted to organics.

Shifting to organics was an evolution that started after Erica had an accident when she bumped into a lamp post. She first changed her diet and noticed that she felt happier. She changed to natural skin care and then looked at the cleaning solutions used in the house. Step by step, Erica removed chemicals, additives and stimulants in her life and embraced organics.

Loveblock Farm is an integrated organic farm that is certified organic by BioGro New Zealand. In addition to grapes, they also have a herd of cattle and their own composting facility on the property.

In 2015, Loveblock Farm Wines was launched. Of course, Sauvignon Blanc is one of the white grapes they produce. But, unlike the typical over-powering, intense-aromatic New Zealand style we are most familiar with, the Crawfords have taken a big departure. Unlike the typical nose that jumps out at you with a wine that Erica describes as “a wine on steroids,” the Loveblock Farm Sauvignon Blanc is a more restrained and elegant style that focused on mouthfeel more than aromatics.

Tasting two vintages of Sauvignon Blanc side-by-side, it is apparent that the terroir and the vintage shine through in the wines. The grapes are picked when they are ripe, and the flavor has fully developed.

As a result, the 2018 Loveblock Estate Sauvignon Blanc has aromas of white grapefruit, white nectarine and crisp pear. On the tongue, the acid is sharp and hits the top of the tongue while the sides of the mouth water.

The 2017 Loveblock Estate Sauvignon Blanc has aromas of white peach and passion fruit and on the palate, it has softer acidity, a fuller body and a tarter finish than the 2018.

The key to both vintages is that they are well-balanced wines and can be enjoyed with oysters and seafood as well as chicken and pasta.

In addition to Sauvignon Blanc, Loveblock Farm produces other white wines, including Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Moscato and Pinot Gris.

Pinot Gris is considered the fasting growing variety in New Zealand and Australia, and it is apparent why when tasting the Loveblock 2018 Pinot Gris. The wine has floral notes as well as aromas of melon, pear, lime and green tea. On the palate the soft acidity coats the tongue and there is a touch of minerality on the finish. This is a wine that easily pairs with Asian flavors but also stood up to a squash blossom pizza.

Loveblock also produces Pinot Noir. The Crawfords purchased a vineyard in Central Otago in 2008 and grow Pinot Noir in the free-draining sandy loam and schist soils. The Loveblock 2018 Pinot Noir, Central Otago is a beautiful ruby-garnet color with notes of cranberry, cherry, raspberry, tea and a hint of earthiness. I enjoyed the wine with a fried chicken sandwich, but it can also be paired with salmon or lamb.

The Loveblock Farm wines are elegant, balanced wines that will make you rethink any existing notions you have about New Zealand wine.

Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.