I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
This excerpt from Robert Frost sets the stage for the sentiments of my brief but poignant encounter with Ms. Erica Crawford, Founder & CEO of LoveBlock Wines.
As the saying goes, “the best way to make a small fortune in the wine business is to start with a large one.” Hopeful for this outcome, Erica Crawford with her husband, none other than the illustrious winemaker Kim Crawford, known best for his exotic, intensely flavored Sauvignon Blanc, the grape that literally put New Zealand on the global wine map chose this perilous route. Little did they know, the vineyard and wine Loveblock fabricated from a love affair swiftly turned into a challenge or shall we say troublesome teenager?
Undeterred and strong in their faith, Erica and Kim recently released their fourth vintage from their vineyards Loveblock located in Awatere Valley and Someone’s Darling in Central Otago. I had the pleasure to taste their latest releases over lunch at the seafood-centric Disney Springs Boathouse restaurant.
Perched on top of the hills overlooking the Awatere Valley, Loveblock Vineyard with its northerly aspect, windy orientation warding disease and bugs at bay, and higher concentration of clay providing greater moisture retention is specifically suited and devoted to growing premium aromatic white varietals. The main vineyard area produces Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris predominantly, as well as experimental Pinot Blanc, Tempranillo, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, and Riesling.
Pinot Gris 2013 Malborough: An exemplary example of organic effects where the vines are forced to struggle by competing with wild flowers and cover crop. A tad shy of being rubensque, Loveblock Pinot Gris 2013 boasts floral aromas with tropical notes of ripe pineapple, luscious lychee, reminiscent of sweet Asian pears. Finishing dry with underlining lingering minerality.
Biodynamic farmers consult the Lunar Calendar for showcasing their wine’s potential. Erica crawford, a staunch advocate of organic living brought to our attention that we were tasting on a root day. Thankfully, January 19th being a root and flower day, turned out to be a good day to experience aromatic whites. Perhaps there is merit to this philosophy since the Pinot Gris literally changed 360 degrees in my glass. From sweet Asian pear to intensely floral and stone fruit notes. All I needed was a side of Pad Thai to transport me to my happy place!!
Fun Fact: New Zealand is rampant with rabbits. Don’t get psyched when you catch the rolling hillsides literally moving. It’s just the rabbits going about their business. Speaking of which, Loveblock utilizes honey bee netting to keep the pesky bronze bettles at bay.
Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Malborough: Rich in volatile thiols, particularly 4MMP 4-mercapto-4-methylpentan-2-one, the grapefruit, passion-fruit aromas we typically recognize in Sauvignon Blanc, are certainly restrained in Loveblock 2015. Kim’s vision is to highlight the texture and mouth feel, which he achieves cleverly through natural and malolactic fermentation. A tropical backdrop of ripe peaches and passionfruit, touch of sugar, vibrant citrus acidity, it’s cerebral stimulation for wine geeks. Look out New Zealand, there is a new kid on the block and he is here to stay!!
The Loveblock farm in Marlborough Awatere Valley is Certified Organic by BioGro New Zealand, the leading organic certifier in New Zealand. The grapes are grown organically without the use of synthetic chemical products. Natural compost, cover crops, and livestock are used to maintain soil health.
Nestled amongst the snow-capped mountains, Someone’s Darling Vineyard is located in Central Otago, one of the hottest, coldest and driest regions in New Zealand. Bendigo the warmest of the Central Otago wine-growing areas ensures the grapes ripen consistently in any given vintage.
Pinot Noir is planted on sandy loam over schist alluvium gravels know as Molyneux soils and oriented to take full advantage of the Southern latitude (18 daylight hours).
Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago: “Anything from the Pinot family is better with a year in the bottle,” a sentiment I whole heartedly concur with Kim. A solid effort that shall undoubtedly receive an “approving nod” from Kim showcasing earthiness of savory mushrooms, forest floor, and dark fruit tingling with cloves and sweet spices. I for one would love to try this vintage again in five odd years.
With summer at our heels, Loveblock’s latest releases are splendid solutions to scorching temperatures. Not to mention the endless flavor possibilities with Asian fusion to home-made rustic Italian meals. So whether you are in a mood for something sassy and vibrant as a Sauvignon Blanc, or simply enjoying the sunset with a crisp and creamy Pinot Gris, or craving the earthy sensuality of a Pinot Noir, Kim & Erica Crawford’s elegant and constrained wines will have you falling in love with New Zealand wines all over again.
Embodying her life’s personal philosophy into Loveblock, Erica’s vision for Loveblock extends beyond profit and product by creating a self-sustaining vineyard estate through bio-dynamic viticulture and vineyard practice and most importantly respecting and listening to Mother nature and earth leading to production of wines of extraordinary character and flavor.
Philosopher Lao Tzu springs to mind – “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”.
It’s an undisputed fact that Kim Crawford is an exceptional winemaker. If the Crawfords are brave enough to choose a radical route surviving on their self imposed organic principals, shouldn’t we as their loyal patrons support them with an open heart and mind to a journey of sensory explosions? And Yes! Loveblock will amaze and delight our wine palates for years to come.
On a personal note, be it kindred spirits bound by our unspoken British colonization upbringing, or the ever inquisitive mind in pursuit of balance and excellence, I skipped away with a hopeful heart and conviction that anything is achievable. I look forward to a new line/style of intriguing wines as this passionate project of Erica and Kim continues to unravel.