Kevin Judd is a busy man. Legendary for his involvement in New Zealand’s iconic Cloudy Bay, of which I fell in love at the first sip back in 2011 during a Cloudy Bay wine pairing dinner, Kevin produced the first 25 vintages at Cloudy Bay, and introduced the world to the fantastic Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.
He left Cloudy Bay in 2009; but he must have pinot noir running through his veins instead of blood, for instead of retiring or settling down in another vineyard, Kevin decided he wanted to continue wine making, but now under his own label, Greywacke.
It’s one thing to be involved with an established vineyard, but quite an entirely different ballgame to set-up your very own wine brand, beginning from selecting the best grapes from around the region to aging and bottling every bottle.
Then it’s the marketing and education; making the world accept your brand, a new brand in this business where “old, vintage” are the accepted norms, and yours is just beginning to make its mark.
No doubt Kevin is a veteran in his field, but venturing out on your own is a big step nonetheless considering he could have retired with wine photography, travel the world (which incidentally what he’s doing now) and take long walks with his dog.
But no, it is a fulfillment of a long held dream and Kevin is seeing it to fruition.
We met and spoke over New Zealand beef and the famous Kapati cheese recently. The wines are pleasant, very easy to drink; somewhat a characteristic of New Zealand vinos and it’s definitely my kind of wines.
Tongues and tense muscles loosen in the beautiful resort of Casa del Rio Melaka. Chef Allan Ho prepared a scrumptious dinner. Most importantly, the wines flowed freely.
We begin with the Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, a very lively refreshing wine with good crisp finish; a good choice for a dinner starter. This was matched with a Vietnamese inspired rice rolls with naked vegetables, which on the other hand dry and uninspiring. Not to worry, the Sauvignon Blanc makes one forgiving.
My favourite of Kevin’s Graywacke is the Riesling. No doubt the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chardonnay are the highlights, but I’m a strange woman, with a peculiar wine palate maybe? 🙂
The Riesling is sweet and liquid nectar on the tongue. Smooth down the throat, melodious and delicate with strong hints of caramel. Yes, this is the wine of the night for me, paired with the 2nd course, Tartar of Baby Abalone, flavored with Spring Onions and Tarragon.
Food begin to be a bit more palatable by the 3rd course. I love scallops and eagerly wiped the plate clean, taking sips of the next wine – a personal favourite of Kevin’s, the Chardonnay.
Kevin said the Chardonnay is a wine close to his heart. It displays a nice savouriness and it’s not just fruity. It’s sharp, intense with concentration of flavour and crisp acidity. He went on to share a bit about the winemaking process; hand-picked grapes at high ripeness levels and whole bunch pressed before being left in 20% new and 80% old French oak barrels with little control or checking. The juice are allowed wild juice fermentation and it ages nicely with smoky characters from the barrels.
The main of New Zealand Wagyu Sirloin matched the red Greywacke Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir shares the same smoky characteristics as the Chardonnay since the grape juice were fermented in the same barrels.
This red is full-flavoured with dark fruit richness and fortunately, not dry nor does it give that astringency mouthfeel. It uses 100% wild yeast during fermentation too.
I won’t be surprised if Kevin is planning to cultivate his own grapes soon. That man is a dynamite. Soft spoken and affable in person, but the passion is very much on the surface where the topics of wines are concerned. It was nice to be able to share a table with Kevin and his good-natured wife Kimberley for dinner that evening. They are currently touring countries hosting wine dinners so if you do hear of them at a location near you, do grab the opportunity to meet them! 🙂
Dessert – Burnt Kapiti Mascarpone Cheese; Vanilla poached Turkish Dried Apricot. Truly fabulous. I love it!
We have Kapiti ice cream now in Malaysia (check out my post HERE) but not so much Kapiti cheeses. I did saw Kapiti cheese in Jaya Grocer at The Intermark but it was only one variety. I hope to see more Kapiti cheeses in our supermarkets soon!
Venue: The River Grill
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