Craggy Range

Owner(s) Terry Peabody, Peabody Family, Steve Smith
Web site www.craggyrange.com
 
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Craggy Range is a partnership between business man Terry Peabody and accomplished viticulturist Steve Smith MW. Formed in 1998 with the purchase of wine growing land in Hawke’s Bay Gimblett Gravels subregion (a parcel eventually sold by Gimblett Gravels, an international concrete company), Craggy Range has since acquired several Pinot Noir vineyards in other regions, including Martin’s Road, Central Otago Station, and 350 acres on Te Muna Road in the Wairarapa region of Martinborough. The 230-acre Te Muna Road Vineyard was planted in 1999 in the Martinborough Terraces subregion of Martinborough, separated from the Terraces by the Huangarua River. The vineyard is largely planted to Pinot Noir, with lesser amounts of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling. Craggy Range oversees a total of 550 acres. Reportedly, Peabody has invested at least $60 million in the venture.

Steve Smith was the first viticulturist to earn an MW and earned his reputation by revolutionizing canopy management with Dr. Richard Smart. He researched phylloxera at University of California at Davis and Robert Mondavi Winery. A native of Invercargill at the southern tip of the South Island, and the son of a bootlegger, he has risen to the top of the New Zealand wine industry. He is one of the country's nine Masters of Wine.

Craggy Range specializes in single vineyard wines that are produced in limited volumes and represent the most complete expression of the vineyards. The winery makes about half a dozen different Pinot Noirs made of grapes grown on single sites.Production is 45,000 cases annually.

American Doug Wiser, a protege of Ted Lemon (Littorai), was the winemaker here until his tragic kite surfing accident in 2004. The current Pinot Noir winemakers working under the direction of Steve Smith are Adrian Baker (Martinborough wines), Rod Easthope (Hawke's Bay wines) and Matt Stafford who has worked alongside Rod Easthope and became chief winemaker in June, 2012, with Easthope assuming a consulting role. Craggy Range is an ambitious project that could only be accomplished with significant financial resources (the vineyards alone are reportedly to have cost $36 million!).

Both Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc I have sampled are superb examples of New Zealand's bounty. Annual production is 55,000 cases. 100% of Martinborough wines are estate grown. The wines are generally available through fine wine retailers in the United States (imported by Kobrand Group, NY, NY).

Reviewed Wines

2011 Craggy Range Kidnapper’s Vineyard Hawkes Bay New Zealand Chardonnay

13.0% alc., $19, screwcap. Imported by Kobrand Corp, NY, NY. · Very pale straw color in the glass. Fresh aromas of green apples, lychee and marzipan. Crisp, juicy and slightly viscous on the palate with flavors of citrus, baked pear, apple galette, and walnuts, finishing upbeat with a good cut of citrusy acid. Very good. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $35, screwcap. Imported by Kobrand Corp, NY, NY. Indigenous yeast fermentations, aged more than a year in French oak barrels without racking. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Slight reduction and oaky upon opening, becoming very savory over time with aromas of bramble, herbs and wild, dark red berries. Fruits in the redder spectrum are featured with a green, herbal tone. Moderately light in weight with supple tannins and an acid-driven, juicy finish. Good. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 Craggy Range Kidnapper’s Vineyard Martinborough New Zealand Chardonnay

13.5% alc., $17. Imported by Kobrand Corp, NY, NY. The 2008 vintage was stellar for Chardonnay in New Zealand. · Very light straw color. Pleasingly clean aromas of white peaches and citrus. Discreetly rich flavors of white stone fruits and apples with a citric peel lift on the refreshing finish. Good (+). Reviewed November 7, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 2,600 cases, $33. Indigenous yeast, aged over 12 months in French oak without racking. · Moderately dark in color. The nose is typical of a young wine, needing time to reveal its charms. Black cherries, spice box, cut flowers and prominent oak aromas. Intense purple fruits on the palate with hints of pine sap and oak. Smooth and sexy with a lingering finish bright with fruit. Beautifully balanced. Very good. Reviewed April 23, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Martinborough New Zealand Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $33. Imported by Kobrand Corp, NY, NY. Vineyard planted to 8 clones in more than 40 different parcels. Indigenous yeast fermentation, aging for 1 year in French oak barrels without racking. Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. · Complex nose offering scents of black cherries, strawberries, sandalwood, and dried herbs including sage. Very tasty essence of dark red cherries and berries with noticeable persistence of cherry flavors on the generous finish. A very subtle green note and hint of tobacco and mushroom peeks out. Softly textured and very smooth in the mouth and very approachable now. Very good. Reviewed November 7, 2010 ARTICLE »

2006 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Martinborough Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $45. Imported by the Kobrand Group, NY, NY. · The nose turned me on and I wanted to dive in. Fragrant melange of red fruits, especially cherries, with a sidecar of brown sugar, grass, earth and wet stones all of which carry over to the juicy flavors. All silk and satin with impeccable balance, perfectly integrated oak, and a notably persistent aromatic finish displaying cherries and raspberries. This is pinotosity exemplified. All world. Tasted twice. Reviewed October 13, 2008 ARTICLE »

2003 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Martinborough Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., $37. The Te Muna Road Vineyard was planted in 1999. Imported by Kobrand Corp, N.Y, N.Y.. · This is a particularly charming wine. The attractive nose features wild, crushed strawberries and cherries. Luscious black cherry fruit and sandalwood burst on the mid palate. The tannins are velvety, the texture is creamy, and the finish is clean and brisk. Reviewed April 16, 2006