Good magazine caught up with Cloudy Bay operations winemaker Daniel Sorrell at the launch of the famed winery’s pop-up in Parnell.
As food and wine pairing experiences go Marlborough winery Cloudy Bay has taken it next level by collaborating with Auckland tapas bar 46 & York to open a pop-up in Parnell.
The sunny bistro has had a temporary makeover for the pop-up experience Cloudy Bay Sail Away, though Cloudy Bay operations winemaker Daniel Sorrell assures me it has nothing to do with sailing. It’s more about creating that ‘sailing away’ feeling and experience Cloudy Bay-style and it certainly does that.
Temporary decking has been created to make the most of the afternoon and evening sun, complete with comfortable outdoor furniture, and the interior is lush with greenery. But it’s the wines and the tapas menu created by chef Sam Mannering that is the focus. Oysters, lobster, pork belly and lamb wrapped in herbs and bacon, paired with Cloudy Bay vintages including its famed sauvignon blanc.
Which brings us to this question, ‘how does Cloudy Bay consistently produce this wine – year after year – with such a distinctively consistent favour that we’ve come to love, and expect’?
Sorrell believes it’s mostly because Cloudy Bay founder David Hohnen invested in the best land in the Wairau Valley, Blenheim. The winery sits in the middle of the Wairau Valley over dry river beds and greywacke stones.
“It is a massive reason why the style is what it is and we haven’t deviated from that from day one,” says Sorrell. “We believe that quality is number one and that starts out in the vineyard. The legacy that David started is true to the winemakers today, where the first glass of Cloudy Bay that we ever loved is based around that vibrancy of kaffir limes, lemon zest, white flowers, stone fruits and minerality which we believe comes from our vineyards.”
While site selection is key for producing Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, so is “picking day”.
“You get the picking date wrong with sauvignon and it’s very brutal,” says Sorrell. “If you get it too early it’s green and in about six months to a year’s time you can have what people describe as tinned asparagus and very herbaceous. If you pick too ripe they become very oily and flabby – ultimately what we are chasing is those stone fruits and those citrus notes.”
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is also great for cellaring though often it doesn’t make it there. One of the reasons is that Cloudy Bay can never produce enough wine to meet the demand but if Sorrell had his way sommeliers would be holding it back for five to 10 years.
At Cloudy Bay’s 30-year anniversary they went back through the library and he and senior winemaker Tim Heath and Sorrell “were blown away” by the wines. “These wines age extremely well,” he says. “Up until 2001 we bottled everything under cork. So back in the day New Zealand probably didn’t have access to great cork. We didn’t cellar things that well but when you found a bottle that had a perfect seal and opened it up whether it was 25 or 27 years old, they were fantastic. They had this extra complexity with nougats and developed characters. Just beautiful. More creamy textures, the acid had softened a little bit but they were still vibrant and fresh.”
As for his favourite food pairings with Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc, according to Sorrell you can’t go past oysters but agrees Mannering’s lobster dish created for the pop-up is a “cracking combination”.
The pop-up at 46 & York is open until November 16. Bookings are highly recommended. 46&york.co.nz