Cloudy Bay

  • Cloudy Bay Vineyards was established in 1985 by David Hohnen of Cape Mentelle, the Western Australian winery, which today is a part of the Moët Hennessy Wine Estates.

    The company farms 140 hectares of vines at three carefully selected sites. Vineyards planted in 1986 surround the winery in the Wairau Valley at Rapaura, with additional plantings at nearby Renwick and in the Brancott Valley, in the southern foothills. Five long term contract growers also work closely with Cloudy Bay.

    The main varieties grown are sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir with lesser quantities of riesling and gewurztraminer. The average annual crush is 1200 tonnes.

    The winery takes its name from the bay at the eastern extremity of the Wairau Valley. It was named Cloudy Bay by Captain Cook on his voyage to New Zealand in 1770.

    The wines of Cloudy Bay are exported to 20 countries worldwide, the principal markets being Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Europe and Japan. Cloudy Bay will continue to expand its operations and the company believes that the continued success of Marlborough lies in the production of premium wines from varieties best suited to the region.

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  • Wine production in Marlborough is concentrated in the Wairau River Valley where the climate is very cool yet sunny. The region gets more sunlight per year than any other region in the world. Its deep gravel beds, deposited by the river, provide an ideal soil structure for the production of fine wine. Grapes in the Wairau Valley benefit from a long hang time due to dry autumns that make it possible for growers to leave grapes on the vine until late in the season.

    The winery has three vineyards covering 140 hectares, or nearly 350 acres. The Estate Vineyard is the oldest, located near the winery in the Wairau Valley near the village of Rapaura. This vineyard is mostly planted to Sauvignon Blanc, with a bit of Chardonnay. The Widow's Block vineyard was purchased in 1998 and is mostly planted with Sauvignon Blanc and a small bit of Pinot Noir. Barracks Block Vineyard is just coming into production and is dedicated solely to Pinot Noir.
    Additional estate vineyards are located in nearby Renwick and in Brancott Valley.

    Located at the northern end of New Zealand's South Island at latitude 41°30'S, the flood plain of the Wairau River covers a land area of 105 square miles. It is 9 miles wide at its eastern end where it meets the coast at Cloudy Bay, tapering to only a few miles at its inland extremity, 16 miles from the sea. The northern boundary is graphically bordered by the Richmond Ranges whose main peak, Mount Riley, features on the Cloudy Bay label. The southern boundary is equally dramatic, marked by a series of ranges, which give rise to four tributary valleys, recognized as sub-regions within the Wairau - these are the Brancott, Omaka, Waihopai, and Ben Morven Valleys.

    The Wairau Valley has a cool maritime climate. Heat summation (measured in time above 50°F for the growing season) averages 1320 degree-days (1987-2004). Although the Wairau enjoys more sunlight hours than any other region of New Zealand, daily maximum temperatures rarely exceed 86°F in the hottest months, and day/night fluctuations (diurnal range) are pronounced. Spring and autumn frosts can occasionally occur and are potentially hazardous to yields and ripeness levels. The annual rainfall is 34 inches and is normally spread evenly throughout the year, but it can be unpredictable. The maritime influence ensures relatively cool conditions during the growing season, allowing extended accumulation of flavor and aroma. In most years, strong westerly winds prevail throughout November and December, reducing disease pressure in the vineyards.

    Geologically, New Zealand is a very young country with most rock formations having evolved in the last 300 million years. The Wairau Valley was shaped during a series of glacial periods, the last ending only 14,000 years ago. Successive flooding and re-alignment of the Wairau and other rivers of the valley have deposited glacial outwash, forming a level plain with deep, sedimentary soils varying from washed stone to gravel, alluvial silt and clay. These soils have a very good natural nutrient status. Within the deep alluvial gravels an extensive aquifer, fed by the winter snow-melt from the higher ranges, provides an invaluable resource of high quality irrigation water.

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  • Sauvignon Blanc
    The Wairau Valley of Marlborough is synonymous with the world's finest sauvignon blanc and it was this variety that inspired the establishment of Cloudy Bay Vineyards in 1985. Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc played a significant role in establishing this international reputation and is consistently regarded as one of the region's finest.

    The Cloudy Bay team combine meticulous viticulture, modern winemaking technology and traditional vinification techniques to produce a style notable for its structure, complexity and fine balance. Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is an elegant aromatic wine with appealing fruit and crisp acidity.

    Te Koko
    Cloudy Bay Te Koko is an individual expression of the sauvignon blanc grape, a complex and savory wine that is both deliciously aromatic and richly textured. Aromas of lychee and honeysuckle intermingle with the scent of thyme and a hint of smoky oak. Released as a matured wine, Te Koko is a full-bodied, alternative style of sauvignon blanc... a complimentary addition to the Cloudy Bay range.

    The winemaking philosophy of Te Koko is very much 'hands off', and is the result of winemaking curiosity, having employed similar techniques with chardonnay. After harvesting and pressing, the juice is transferred to French oak barrels and allowed to undergo fermentation using naturally occurring yeast. This primary fermentation is subsequently followed by a full malolactic fermentation in the following spring. The wine is left in barrel, on yeast lees for 18 months prior to bottling.

    The bay at the Eastern extremity of the Wairau Valley, named 'Cloudy Bay' by Captain Cook, was originally known as 'Te Koko - o - Kupe' by the Maori people of the region. Legend has it that Kupe, the Tahitian explorer dredged for oysters in the bay and Te Koko refers to the scoop used by Kupe to lift the oysters from the seabed.

    Te Wahi
    "Te Wahi means 'Our Place" in Maori, a name chosen because we believe that great pinot noir speaks eloquently of its place of origin."
    Te Wahi, a small production pinot noir from Central Otago, is the newest addition to the Cloudy Bay portfolio. Central Otago is located further south than Marlborough on the south island.

    Grapes for Te Wahi are hand picked from select Central Otago vineyards in the Bannockburn, Bendigo and Lowburn subregions. Soils are moderately old, formed over successive ice ages as the glaciers ground Schist rocks to a fine flour. Layers of Loess, of various depths, are interspersed with river gravels and sand.

    95% of the fruit is destemmed into open top stainless steel takes and traditionally enjoy a seven day cold soak before two to three weeks of fermentation and maceration. The cap is hand plunged between one and four times daily depending on the character of the vintage. Batches were lightly pressed then racked to barrel for 14 months aging in French oak, 30% new. Before bottling, the wine was racked to tank and lightly fined.

    The perfumed nose reveals subtle aromas of cherry, red liquorice and florals. The palate is plush yet defined and balanced. Dark fruit up front finishes to sour cherry with notes of leather, smoke and bittersweet chocolate. Dusty tannins linger on an elegant but generous finish.

    Cloudy Bay Chardonnay has steadily built a stature and reputation in line with that of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes are sourced from both estate and contract vineyards within the Wairau Valley.

    Traditional vinification methods are employed to produce an intriguing and complex wine. These include, wild yeast and malolactic fermentations, prolonged contact with yeast lees and ageing in French oak barriques. Alcohol levels are naturally high and produce a wine with body and viscosity. The dominant fruit characters of melon and peach blend harmoniously with toasty vanillin oak and mealy yeast autolysis characters.

    Pinot Noir
    Pinot noir thrives in Marlborough where Cloudy Bay has planted the best clones in prime vineyard locations to produce the highest quality fruit. Crop levels are carefully controlled to ensure the grapes have great concentration of flavor and this is enhanced by tried and true 'hands off' winemaking practices.

    Vinified using traditional fermentation techniques with subsequent maturation in French oak casks, the Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir is a richly flavored, medium bodied and finely structured wine. Bright vermilion with purple tints, it typically shows enticing fragrant aromas of mulled plums, cherries and tobacco and has a full lingering palate. It is a style that will gain additional complexity with medium term cellaring.

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