Craggy Range Sophia Merlot Cabernet Franc 2009
Craggy-Range-Sophia-Merlot-Cabernet-Franc-2009

Craggy Range Sophia Merlot Cabernet Franc 2009

Sale price$135.00
Gimblett Gravels, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Style: Red Wine

Varieties: Merlot (65% ), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Cabernet Franc (7% ), Petit Verdot (3%)

Closure: Cork

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Craggy Range Sophia Merlot Cabernet Franc 2009

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Burke Road
Camberwell VIC 3124
Australia

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Producer: Craggy Range

Country: New Zealand

Region: Hawke's Bay

Vintage: 2009

Critic Score: 20/20 and 97

Alcohol: 14.0%

Size: 750 ml

Drink by: 2030


This is every bit as good as many classed growth chateaux wines from the outstanding '09 Bordeaux vintage - James Halliday

Sophia is Craggy Range's flagship wine, a Bordeaux blend sourced from their best parcels of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in the famous Gimblett Gravels vineyard. The wine is made at the Giants Winery complex in a specially designed circular fermentation cellar containing 8000 litre French oak cuves. Each of the cuves are used for fermenting the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot parcels of wine that come from the Gimblett Gravels Vineyard. Below the Sophia cellar is an underground barrel cellar named The Quarry where the blended components of Sophia are aged together for its final 12 months.

"Bordeaux beware: this blend is every bit as good as that of many classed growth chateaux wines from the outstanding '09 Bordeaux vintage. The colour is superb, the ultra-expressive bouquet with blackcurrant and cassis to the fore, then awe-inspiring drive through the length of the classic medium-bodied palate, fruit tannins and quality French oak seamlessly sewn together."  James Halliday 

 

The Top Winery of New Zealand 2023: Craggy Range

Expert reviews

"Very dark, near impenetrable, purple-hued, ruby red in colour, this has a full, intense and concentrated nose of dark plum and spicy berry fruits, beautifully layered with aromas of earth and truffles, and notes of lavender perfumes and lifted oak.  Rich and concentrated, this is nearly massive in its density and body, the fruit flavours filling the palate, showing succulent dark plums, liquorice as well as pepper, soy sauce and Oriental spices.  The extraction is serious, and provides a powerful structure, yet the tannins are fine and powdery.  The wine features incredible tension and freshness from the acidity, and the palate has great length.  The balance of the wine offers remarkable accessibility, but this will develop greater interest and complexity over the next 10-15+ years.  Match with beef and venison as well as firm cheeses. 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot fermented to 14.2% alc., the wine aged 18 months in 45% new French oak barriques."  Raymond Chan – 20.0/20 points  ★★★★★

"Bordeaux beware: this blend of 65% merlot, 25% cabernet sauvignon, 7% cabernet franc and 3% petit verdot is every bit as good as that of many classed growth chateaux wines from the outstanding '09 Bordeaux vintage. The colour is superb, deep crimson grading to magenta on the rim, the ultra-expressive bouquet with blackcurrant and cassis to the fore, then awe-inspiring drive through the length of the classic medium-bodied palate, fruit tannins and quality French oak seamlessly sewn together. 14.2% alc, cork Drink to: 2024."  James Halliday, The Weekend Australian - 97 points

"Medium deep colour. Lovely fragrant plum/violet/praline aromas with touches of cedar/spice. Deep set buoyant wine with plum/dark chocolate flavours, velvety tannins and cedar oak. Very smooth and seductive wine. Power and elegance. One for the long haul."  Andrew Caillard MW – 19/20 points

"Delicious rich, ripe and smooth in its youth, this Gimblett Gravels blend of merlot (65%) and cabernet sauvignon (25%) also has splashes of cabernet franc (7%) and petit verdot (3%).   Matured for 18 months in French oak barriques (45% new), it is deeply coloured, full-bodied, sweet-fruited and supple, with highly concentrated, ripe cassis, plum and spice flavours."  Winestate Magazine ★★★★★

"Very deep garnet-purple, the 2009 Gimblett Gravels Sophia is blended of 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The nose is very youthful and a little closed, giving notes of ripe plums, mulberries and crushed blackberries over cloves, pencil shavings, cedar, mace and coffee beans with a hint of dark chocolate. Medium-full bodied, the tight-knit palate gives balanced, medium-high acid, firm grainy tannins and lots of berry and spice layers, finishing long. Consider drinking it 2013 to 2022+."  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate - 95 points

"Deep purple-red. Quite strongly oaked aroma; intense flavour, clean and fresh; but also smooth and the tannins are ripe and balanced. Fine texture and good length. Very smart wine. Drink: 2011-2030."  Huon Hooke, The Real Review - 95 points

"Big, ripe plum flavors with toasty oak and hints of spice, blackcurrant and florals on the finish. Seamless and rich. Approachable with soft, ripe tannins and plenty of fleshy fruit but should age.Bob Campbell MW, The Real Review - 95 points

"Oak has a clear influence here but it's such sexy oak and so well knitted with the fruit that it's difficult to view it as anything other than a positive. The fruit tastes of blueberries, iodine, dried herbs and oyster shells. There are chicory and nut and pencil-like notes and texturally the wine is creamy. For all its power and oak it feels like an effortless kind of wine. Like it still has a bit in the tank. I'd be cellaring this to get the best from it. Drink: 2015 – 2022."  Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front – 94+ points

"Produced entirely from Craggy Range's Gimblett Gravels Vineyard nestled on the right bank of the Ngaruroro River, this is a blend of the very best Merlot and Cabernet Franc parcels of the vineyard. Always classy, always evocative and always richly textured. Dark plum, blackcurrant, dried rosemary, cocoa dust and a hint of vanilla vie for attention. Brooding and ripe. The palate is layered with fine dusty tannins providing the structure for the ample flavor and length. Exceptional balance between fruit richness, tannic backbone and acidity is immaculate."  Jancis Robinson MW – 17.5/20 points

The vineyards

We took an innovative position of pursuing a multi-regional approach to wine growing meaning we didn't have to compromise. After discovering the promise of New Zealand, the Peabody family decided on the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing district in Hawke's Bay and Te Muna Road in Martinborough to produce a collection of wines that speak very much of their place.

Gimblett Gravels

Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Vineyard

A place of warmth and gravelly soils, the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing District resulted from a flood in 1876 when the Ngaruroro River changed its course and a vista of gravel was left behind. The area is a place of warmth, stone and sandy alluvial soils. This unique combination alongside other climatic factors such as sunshine hours, humidity and rainfall means the gravels retain heat and lead to optimum ripening for Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet. The characteristics of red wines from the vineyard are richness, ripeness and elegance with a distinctive fine dusty tannin finish. Chardonnay is also grown on the vineyard with distinctive floral notes and pronounced minerality on the palate.

Te Muna Road

Craggy Range Te Muna Vineyard

The Te Muna Road Vineyard is located some 7 kilometres outside of the Martinborough township. The vineyard consists of two distinct terraces, the higher comprising very old, stony clay-infused soils perfect for Pinot Noir. The lower terrace of younger stony soils interleaved with limestone provides an excellent environment for Sauvignon Blanc. The cooler climate of Martinborough ensures the wine is aromatic with steely minerality while the rocky soils give intensity to the fruit. The region's warm, dry summers and mild winters have led to complex and structured wines with subtle aromatics and an elegant finish.

Kidnappers Vineyard

Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard

Our Kidnappers Vineyard is located on the Hawke's Bay coastline at Te Awanga where the spring and autumn are warm and sunny and the summer is tempered by the cooling sea breeze. Its ideal location allows the development of intense Chardonnay flavours in the grapes producing a wine with lifted aromatics and a mouth-watering finish.

The craggy range story

Craggy Range Vineyard

When Terry Peabody arrived home from a four-week business trip in the fall of 1993 his wife Mary, and daughter Mary-Jeanne, cooked him dinner. The meal was long and leisurely, but not without purpose. Terry wasn't allowed to leave until he had agreed to go into the wine business. The specification was that the business must never be sold. It was to be a family business, an enduring heritage legacy.

That night, Terry made a commitment to the most important people in his life, and he intended to honour it. The search for a winery began traditionally enough - in France and America, spreading then to Australia. Other business brought him to the edge of the world, to New Zealand: a land of mountains, fire and ice - geographically the youngest country in the world – situated in the sweet latitudes for winegrowing.

'When I pictured a life among the vines, I didn't immediately think of New Zealand, but New Zealand was wonderful because we were interested in clean air, green fields and a culture of care for the land. We didn't want to inherit or extend other people's mistakes.'  Mary Peabody

Terry had always been impressed with the quality of New Zealand wines and he sensed a new and exciting possibility. In New Zealand he saw potential he hadn't seen elsewhere. The country's exceptional climate, the youth of the wine industry and the pioneering spirit of the people aligned with his own philosophy and desire to cut a different path. His ambition was not merely to buy into an existing vineyard or to emulate the greatest examples of wine styles in the world - it was bolder. He wanted to create new benchmarks with wines that would become internationally known as the New World classics.

Fate played its part. An acquaintance introduced Terry to noted Kiwi viticulturist Steve Smith, who had been named by Decanter magazine as 'one of the 50 most influential people in the world of wine going into the next millennium.' He was in good company alongside Chateau Margaux's Paul Pontallier, Pierre Henry Gagey of Louis Jadot, and Jancis Robinson MW. He'd just become a Master of Wine - the only specialist viticulturist in the world to have the distinction.

As some collect antiquities or vintage cars, Steve collected land for vintages. A consultant with a rare instinct, and experience in South Africa and Bordeaux, he received more than 350 parcels of wine annually from all over New Zealand. He saw that some pieces of land came through with distinction every time and he'd pinpointed some special places. Gimblett Gravels in Hawke's Bay on the east coast of New Zealand was an area with the perfect growing conditions for his favourite wines – the Bordeaux reds and particularly Syrah. The spectacularly beautiful Tuki Tuki Valley had the soil for Chardonnay and would be the ideal home base from which to build a new kind of winery.

Steve, who always wanted to stretch the boundaries and to whom 'it's nice' would be the ultimate insult about a wine, joined Terry. They made an important decision from the beginning to exclusively pursue the Single Vineyard Philosophy of winemaking – fresh thinking back in 1997. They took an innovative position of pursuing a multi-regional approach to wine growing meaning they didn't have to compromise. After discovering the promise of New Zealand, the Peabody family decided on the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing district in Hawke's Bay and Te Muna Road in Martinborough to produce a collection of wines that speak very much of their place. Craggy Range was the first in the Southern Hemisphere to adopt making single vineyard wines from multiple regions of the country. Grape was matched to place.

About the winery

Craggy Range

Craggy Range is a family-owned winery situated in the shadow of the spectacular Te Mata Peak in the premium wine growing area of Hawke's Bay. It was established in 1998 by Terry Peabody and his wife Mary to create a family legacy, one that could be handed down to future generations. To honour their pledge to the family they established a 1000 year trust, meaning the winery can never be sold.

Their search for a winery began traditionally enough, in France and America then spreading to Australia. An opportunity then brought Terry to New Zealand. Here he saw the potential he hadn't seen elsewhere – the country's exceptional climate, a rich history in farming the land and the pioneering spirit of the people.

It was here that Terry Peabody was introduced to noted Kiwi viticulturist Steve Smith, and together they sought out the best sites in this relatively young country with the ambition of being recognised as one of New Zealand's iconic wine producers. And so they settled on the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing district, an ancient river bed of the Ngaruroro River in Hawke's Bay. The Gimblett Gravels are the perfect place to grow Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet, as the gravels retain heat which aids ripening.

They then took their search to Martinborough, and more particularly, a spectacular piece of farmland in Te Muna Road. It has two distinct terraces, the higher comprised of very old rocky clay-infused soils that are perfect for growing Pinot Noir. The lower terrace of younger gravelly soils interleaved with limestone allows for a unique style of aromatic, minerally Sauvignon Blanc.

As the vineyards have matured over the years so have the wines. The winery was recognised in 2014 by renowned US publication Wine Enthusiast as ‘New World Winery of the Year'.

The wines of Craggy Range are produced at two sites, the Gimblett Gravels Winery and Giants Winery (refer to the map below). Most of the Craggy Range wines are made at the Gimblett Gravels Winery located in the heart of the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowing district.

The Giants Winery, 25 km away, is at the base of Te Mata Peak in the Hawke's Bay region. The Giants Winery complex and vineyard is home to the Craggy Range cellar door, restaurant and a collection of three cellars. Their flagship wine 'Sophia' is made in one of these cellars, a specially designed circular fermentation cellar containing 8000-litre French oak cuves. Each of the cuves are used for fermenting the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot parcels of wine that come from the Gimblett Gravels Vineyard. Below the Sophia cellar is an underground barrel cellar named The Quarry where the blended components of ‘Sophia' are aged together for its final 12 months. The third cellar is a temperature controlled secondary fermentation cellar. 

 

Craggy Range Wineries and Hawke's Bay sub-regions

Craggy Range Wineries and Hawke's Bay sub-regions

Wine region map of New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand is home to more than 700 wineries across 14 wine regions. The regions are Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Central Otago, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, Martinborough*, Nelson, Northland, Waikato, Waipara Valley, Wairarapa and Waitaki Valley. * Martinborough is a sub-region of Wairarapa, however, as it is world renowned it is considered here to be a region to avoid confusion.

The wine regions in New Zealand stretch from latitudes 36°S (Northland) in the north (comparable in latitude to Jerez, Spain), to 45°S (Central Otago) in the south (comparable in latitude to Bordeaux, France). New Zealand's climate is maritime, producing cooler summers and milder winters than would be expected at similar latitudes in Europe.

Viticulture in New Zealand dates back to 1836 when British resident James Busby produced wine in the far north, but it wasn't until 1985 that the wine industry came of age when Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc garnered international attention and critical acclaim.

New Zealand is internationally renowned for Sauvignon Blanc (particularly from Marlborough), Pinot Noir (Central Otago, Martinborough and Waipara Valley), Chardonnay, Bordeaux-style blends of mainly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (Hawkes Bay) and Syrah (Hawkes Bay). Sauvignon Blanc accounts for 63% of the area of the national vineyard, followed by Pinot Noir (14%), Chardonnay (8%), Pinot Gris (7%) and Merlot (3%).