The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2014

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Page 82 of 128

82 / the tasting panel / march 2014 BRAND PROFILE H igh above the vast Awatere Valley in Marlborough, New Zealand, love is in the air. It's a tough love, however, for the land is rugged and was plied not long ago by sheep—not the trappings of viticulture. And many miles to the south, a compelling anguish of the heart influences a Central Otago vineyard. There, a legendary, mysterious soul is becoming dear again. These are the vineyards of Loveblock, the intrepid creation of Erica Crawford and husband/winemaker Kim Crawford—but in marked contrast to the heavy- weight, ubiquitous brand they once built under the latter's name. Now, with Loveblock, their footprint is lighter—thanks to organics and sustainability. But the new label has no shortage of impact; the Crawfords' determination sees to that. "We arrived at these gorgeous, peaceful places off the success of Kim Crawford, and thought we could change the world," says Erica. Both were visu- ally transformed by that world when they saw the breathtaking view from the hillside above Awatere: "You can see the ocean, and across the valley," she says. "It's really like you can see the end of the earth." Nature is filled with awe-inspiring vistas but no guaranteed success with winemaking. So, much is owed to Erica's tenacity and a personal life journey, which provide the impetus for Loveblock wines. "With Kim Crawford, we built a brand—a challenging brand," says Erica. "We worked jolly hard, and the stress forced me to examine the chemical nature of our immediate environment. So, I started cutting things out. I eliminated addi- tives and stimulants. The effect was cumulative; I embraced organics, and that's how we got here." Which is actually two places: Loveblock Farm in those hills above Marlborough, where the Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc are produced—certified organic by BioGro New Zealand—and the Central Otago property, which yields Loveblock Pinot Noir and is SWNZ (Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand) accredited. The Loveblock 2011 Pinot Gris ($24) is a small-production (1,500 cases) example of elegance: beguiling floral aromatics on the nose, and a palate of cantaloupe and wildflower, plus a hint of lime on the finish. "I love the linearity of Pinot Gris," says Erica. "It sits so beautifully underneath food." A uniquely green nose of fern leaf and even sweet pea is a fantastic lead-in for the Loveblock 2012 Sauvignon Blanc ($24), a standout within a varietal so widely planted in Marlborough. Stony minerality and tropical fruit alternate nicely on the palate. The vineyard that produces the Pinot Noir is called "Someone's Darling," perhaps the most poignant association with love of all. Legend has it that a body of a young man was once found on the property, with no identity. Buried by the landowner, his grave was marked simply: Someone's Darling. The Loveblock 2011 Pinot Noir ($34) is big and earthy, with great mid-palate structure of dark fruits, with a touch of smoke. "My vision is an integrated farm, not just a vineyard," says Erica. "What's impor- tant is how we're doing it, and then why we're doing it. And the why comes from 'Why would you do something the same way again?' You don't learn from that." Loveblock is imported by Terlato Wines. Locked in Love AFFINITY FOR THE LAND INSPIRES LONGTIME NEW ZEALAND WINEMAKERS ERICA AND KIM CRAWFORD IN LOVEBLOCK by Tom Caestecker, Jr. Kim and Erica Crawford have cre- ated Loveblock wines, showcasing a bond with the most unique terroir in New Zealand.

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