“From here you can almost see the end of the Earth; the peace lifts you above your troubles.” Erica Crawford.
Perched high in the hills overlooking Marlborough’s Awatere Valley, Loveblock feels a world away from the agricultural hustle & bustle below.
Kim and Erica Crawford acquired this wild and untamed patch of land in 2004 and have turned their organic farm into a haven of biodiversity. It is here they make a Sauvignon Blanc of constrained elegance and an emphasis on texture. While in Central Otago, Kim and Erica farm five different clones of Pinot Noir on their 9-hectare ‘Someone’s Darling’ vineyard, planted on sand over schist close to Bendigo, in the warmer climes of this most southerly wine region.
Kim & Erica
Kim and Erica Crawford are industry legends who need no introduction – but we will give them one anyway!
They created New Zealand’s first genuinely negociant brand, the eponymous Kim Crawford wines, which they sold prior to setting up the Loveblock farm.
Kim is the Loveblock winemaker and draws together all of his life’s work in the vineyard and winery to make wines that are true to his heart and true to their origins.
Erica is the CEO and face of Loveblock, an inspirational brand builder and mentor as well as an active member of the Global Women NZ Advisory Board, an organisation working to expand the influence of women and helping to guide emerging leaders.
Their CVs sound impressive, and they certainly are, but above all they possess a warmth and generosity of spirit that comes across in the Loveblock wines.
What makes the Awatere Valley stand apart from the rest of Marlborough? It faces the Pacific Ocean, which means the sea winds can be challenging but combined with intense sunlight and dry, free-draining soils mean the vines have to struggle – usually a good thing – and berries are thick-skinned.
It is this cooler, more rugged environment that can contribute a more complex, ‘Old World’ style perhaps to the region’s wines.
All in all, the Awatere Valley accounts for roughly one-third of Marlborough’s plantings and of course the majority of these are Sauvignon Blanc but there is a lot of Pinot Noir grown here too.
Sustainability goes to the heart of everything that Loveblock is about. When Kim & Erica arrived at the farm in the Awatere Valley in 2004, they found a wild haven for biodiversity and their deeply held belief is they are custodians of this land for future generations.
They farm in accordance with organic certification, Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand principles and low chemical intervention farming.
Loveblock Farm and the winery are certified organic by BioGro New Zealand and here Kim, Erica and their team incorporate centuries-old methods while drawing from modern technology and equipment to make the vineyards more carbon efficient.
'Tee' and zero sulfites
Something that makes Loveblock stand apart is their commitment to innovation, and nowhere more striking than in their zero-added sulfites winemaking.
For a few years now, they have been experimenting with green tea powder as a preservative in place of sulfites. As the story goes, they made a Sauvignon Blanc in this fashion and produced a stable, delicious wine but which ‘pinked’ soon after bottling, creating a light orange colour. The experimental wine, of which only a few hundred bottles were made, became known as ‘Orange’ but contrary to the belief of some, it wasn’t an orange or skin-contact wine.
Subsequent vintages didn’t change colour and so the wine is now named ‘Tee’, a nod to Erica Crawford’s South African heritage (tee is Afrikaans for tea).
Now the wine doesn’t taste remotely of green tea! Tiny amounts are added so this isn’t some sort of matcha-sauvignon cocktail. The tea is there to stabilise and protect the wine – which it does successfully – but the process undoubtedly creates a wine that is distinct from Kim & Erica’s regular Sauvignon Blanc.
Production remains small but this world-first is a real game changer and above all, a delicious New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in its own right.