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Rock solid base for good winemaking


Apparently, some Kiwis are proud of their rocks.

Greywacke rock is everywhere. This ubiquitous, highly compacted gray sandstone “rock” is the foundation of soils in many areas of New Zealand.

Marlborough, in particular, has Greywacke rock in abundance, which contributes to the terroir of the wine-making region.

Kevin and Kimberly Judd own the Greywacke label, named after this rock. They produce flavorsome complex wines that reflect the taut mineral quality supplied by the “rock”.

English-born and raised in Adelaide, Kevin went to Roseworthy College and made wine in Reynella in South Australia.

In the early 1980’s, the chance to work at the frontier of cool climate crisp and aromatic whites drove Kevin to travel to Marlborough.

Originally, he was to stay for three years but, three decades on, he has yet to leave.

He initially worked for Selaks wines, and then became the foundation winemaker at the iconic Cloudy Bay winery.

In many ways, Kevin is akin to a virtual winemaker because he does not own any vineyards. But through experience and well-formed relationships, he sources premium fruit from older vines on select vineyard sites, which is brought to the Dog Point vineyard facilities he uses for his winemaking (the vineyard also supplies some of the fruit).

The Greywacke label features primarily Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir varieties, though Pinot Gris, Gurwiztraminer, Chardonnay, and Riesling are made in limited quantities.

Sauvignon Blanc (SB) is the work horse of the NZ wine industry, making up 87 per cent of all wine exports.

Marlborough SB is somewhat predictable, but is always value for money.  Grown in the “sunniest” place in NZ, it can be sunshine in a glass.

It is always a pleasure when craftsmen like Kevin cajole a predictable grape into an alluring wine.

The Wild ferment SB gets special old-world attention, with wild yeast fermentation, some old French oak barrel exposure and some malolactic fermentation. Kevin developed the much sought-after Cloudy Bay Te koko SB. His wild ferment SB has some links to this, but is indeed its own wine.

Wines tasted

2013 Greywacke Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – pale yellow in color. The nose is an attractive array of gooseberries, melon and slight herbal grassy tones. The palate has medium fruit levels but fine acidity that melds into a soft finish. Have with oysters. Not your average SB, with finesse.

2012 Greywacke Marlborough Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc – the color is a light straw, with tinges of green. The bouquet exudes a complexity rarely seen with SB. No cats pee etc. in this beauty. Nectarines, lime notes and a funky, almost meaty, aroma excite the olfactory nerves. The palate is a generous, plush fruit-driven taste, but melded with appropriate acid levels. Almost creamy in nature. Have with Sashimi scallops and sea urchin. I believe this will cellar for seven to nine years and be extraordinary.

2013 Pinot Gris – pale yellow. White peach and funky rose petals with hints of Asian spices beckon the vinophile. Some old oak exposure and wild yeast marry up nicely. Super generous palate with balanced acidity make this a velvety-style suave wine. Enjoy with brie and quince paste.

2012 Greywacke Pinot Noir – nice crimson/garnet color. Dark fruit spectrum with plums and spices. Some oak charring effect and mild funky nuances waft in and out. Elegant palate with moderate integrated tannins. Described as a feminine style, this will man up in four to five years. Made for Canard!