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Nibbles and Sips Around Town – March 2, 2015

Jordan Wright
March 2, 2015 

Kim Crawford Winery Debuts Small Batch Wines in America 

My favorite way to taste wines is over a long and languorous meal.  Not only does it afford the necessary time to let the wines breathe, but allows time enough for me to ponder their potential and assess their potability.  To that end Matt Deller, Kim Crawford’s international Brand Ambassador, suggested a dinner at Lost Society in DC.  Matt would be my guide to the micro-cuvées from New Zealand’s world-class Kim Crawford wines and I would be his willing guinea pig.  A role that when it involves food or wine, I accept graciously.

Kim Crawford wines at Lost Society

Kim Crawford wines at Lost Society

The up-one-flight-of-stairs restaurant along the 14th Street corridor apologizes in menu notes for not being the stuffy setting of your father’s expectations. Nevertheless it considers itself “a true steakhouse”.  There are also remarks preemptively excusing their penchant for indiscriminate tardiness in seating guests, even pre-apologizing for the noise level and the proximity of the tables.  They do however aspire to adopt the cozy informality of at-home dining in the hopes of achieving what they refer to as, “the injection of a dynamic, animated experience”.  Forewarned is forearmed.  So don’t expect to conduct a hasty pre-theatre supper, an intimate conversation, or even a swift business meeting.  Just sit back, relax and plan on being “in the Lost Way” as they prefer to describe the experience.

Blessedly none of these annoying lapses in comfort and courtesy came to pass at dinner.  During our three hours of sipping, dining and ruminating we had some terrific food and exceptional wines from the newly launched Kim Crawford “Small Parcel” Reserve Collection.

To set the tone I ask you to put yourself in the beautiful countryside of New Zealand.  Then conjure up the magical setting of the North Island, home to “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”.  Now leap across the water and beyond the southern tip of that region to the northernmost end of the South Island.  There you will discover the breathtaking mountains and deeply carved valleys of the Marlborough region – – the backdrop and unique terroir for these five wines.

We began with FIZZ.  Akin to champagne and made in the same tradition, it is a charming sparkler made with 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay grapes.  It signals lemon, grapefruit, apple and white peach with a yeasty hint of brioche and caught my favor with its delicate effervescence.

(l-r) Fizz, Favourite Homestead Pinot Gris, Wild Grace Chardonnay, Spitfire Sauvigon Blanc, Rise and Shine Pinot Noir

(l-r) Fizz, Favourite Homestead Pinot Gris, Wild Grace Chardonnay, Spitfire Sauvigon Blanc, Rise and Shine Pinot Noir

We moved on to ‘Favorite Homestead’, a Pinot Gris from the Awatere Valley, that was particularly lovely.  Its flavor profile develops from cooling Antarctic winds, silt loam soil and the Acacia wood barrels that are pressed into service in one fifth of the fermenting process.  As such it climaxes in ripe honeysuckle, cinnamon, apple and pear notes.

Another charmer is the ‘Rise and Shine’ Pinot Noir made from grapes grown beside Lake Dunstan in Central Otago’s cool climate and low rainfall region.  We sampled the 2012 vintage, which showed itself a tad youthful.  A couple of years cellared would reveal its full range of blackberry, cherry, oak and spice flavors.

Crab stuffed lobster at Lost Society

Crab stuffed lobster at Lost Society

Delicious dishes accompanied each of the wines which included the minerally “Wild Grace” Chardonnay, the “Spitfire” Sauvignon Blanc, and the “Rise and Shine” Pinot Noir.  Once seated Lost Society doesn’t rush you and we took our time feasting on Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Stuffed Lobster with Blue Crab, Bone-in Ribeye with Mushroom Cream, Fried Caesar Parmesan Brussels sprouts and Pan Roasted Mushrooms.  Dessert, if we had any, is a blur.  I’m sure you understand.

Recently Constellation New Zealand, the producers of Kim Crawford and Nobilo wines spoke about their excitement for the 2013 harvest, believing it will be a memorable vintage and calling it the “Vintage of a Lifetime”.

New Zealand’s Chief Winemaker, Darryl Woolley noted, “the 2013 Marlborough growing season has been exemplary.”  In addition to earning the distinction for being New Zealand’s driest growing season in about 70 years, the 2013 vintage has also benefited from the sunniest first three months of the year since 1930, rivaled in observed history only by the 1978 season.”

Speaking of the Hawkes Bay vineyards Woolley said, “We’ve had a perfect mix of warm, but not hot, days and cool nights. Rain fell at the right part of the growing cycle and, more importantly, did not fall during the critical period leading up to harvest.  This resulted in a medium sized crop of exceptionally high quality grapes.”  In-the-know wine experts around the world have also taken notice.

According to Mr. Woolley, consumers can expect flavorful, delicious white wines from the 2013 vintage. “The Sauvignon Blanc displays the complete range of ripe flavor components and zingy acidity without a hint of unripe green, vegetal notes.” In addition to the classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, the Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling “were all picked at the optimum date and are very varietal expressive with ripe, well balanced acidity.”  With the Pinot Noir harvest concluded in late April in the Marlborough and Central Otago regions, he remarked, “The Pinot Noir has an excellent field balance, with soft, ripe acidity and tannins. We are especially looking to great things from the stunning Pinot Noir harvested from our Central Otago growers.”

“The reality is, we only got serious about growing Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough 30 to 40 years ago, so that’s as far back as we can go in comparing vintages. That said, we’re feeling confident that the 2013 vintage will easily be one of the best, if not the very best, of the past 20 to 30 years.”

Kim Crawford and Nobilo drinkers can look forward to these extraordinary 2013 vintage wines.  To keep track visit

Here are some local retail stores where you can purchase Kim Crawford Wines.

Marbi – 1730 Rhode Island Ave., NW Washington, DC 20036; Whole Foods Market – 1440 P St. NW, Washington, DC, 20005; Barrel House -1341 14th St. NW, Washington, DC, 20005; Sav On Liquors – 1414 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005; The Wine Specialist – 1133 20th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036; Trader Joe’s – 1914 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009 – Barmy Wine & Liquor – 1912 L St. NW, Washington DC 20036; Harris Teeter – 600 N Glebe Rd., Arlington, VA, 22203.

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