In 1984 a group of Kiwis carried Sauvignon Blanc back from their land when they visited the Cape Mentelle winery in Margaret River a lesser know wine region in Australia then. David Hohnen the owner of the winery who was already creating ripples with his Cabernets tasted their wines and the rest is history! David Hohnen in 1985 launched the Cloudy Bay in Marlborough which eventually placed New Zealand Sauvignons on the world wine map and were often touted as an answer to the French from the Loire valley. Cloudy Bay now owned by the LVMH group is available in 30 countries and continues to grow as it celebrates 30th year in business. We celebrated their glorious 30 with Bruno Yvon the Managing Director of Moet Hennessy India who hosted us for a dinner in Vetro at the Oberoi Hotel.
Their flagship Sauvignon Blanc 2014 began the proceedings for the evening, it revealed elderflower, subtle green pepper notes with a burst of fruit with moderate acidity, the hall mark of a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Cloudy Bay took its name from a place located in the eastern end the Wairau Valley in Marlborough and it was named so by Captain Cook who also discovered Australia. Wairau Valley where most of the Cloudy Bay vineyards are situated also enjoys the most number of sunshine hours in New Zealand, it helps in the extended ripening season resulting in more flavours.
The second wine of the evening was the Te Koko 2011, a barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc. It was elegant, suave and had depth to it. What impressed us was the symphony of the varietal characteristics and the oak influence. This was beautifully paired with a smoked cauliflower soup. Oak aging of sauvignon blancs was a popular styles in the 80’s and then the unwooded trend came in and still continues. Expressions like Te Koko are done only when they really see the potential in the fruit to take the might of the oak. Fume Blanc, they are popularly called in the US.
Chardonnay is the third most popular in the Marlborough region after Sauvignon and Pinot Noir and the Cloudy Bay’s 2012 expression had restrained oak with citrus and stoned fruits to the fore. It paired with gnocchi in an aromatic bell pepper sauce; the caramelized onions added some sweetness to the sauce which played well with the refreshing acidity in the wine. The menu put together by Chef Adriano Baldassare and Rohan Jelkie the Brand Ambassador of Moet Hennessy in India was showing up very well indeed.
We ended the evening with a fruity 2013 Pinot Noir with some hint of tobacco and to compliment it were a range of cheeses, the Italian Gorgonzola, Provolone and Taleggio, an English Cheddar and the French Brie. The Kiwi Pinot Noir again akin to the Sauvignon Blanc is the new world’s answer to the big daddies of the old world and the Indian palates are very much ready for this style. Cloudy Bay to mark the 30th has come up with special editions of their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir to reflect upon the last 29 vintages and to evolve further.
Last thoughts, Marlborough has approximately 109 wineries and they continue to flourish, amidst such stiff competition Cloudy Bay has to keep up their 1985 passion of wine making and we wish them good for their 4th decade in business!!!