For International Women’s Day: Erica Crawford’s LoveBlock Pinot Noir

Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc: this is what I want all of my NZ Sauv Blancs to be like! Fresh and crisp but also sumptuous. The warm roasted olives in harrissa spices were a REVELATION and paired beautifully as did the hamachi crudo.

What better wine to toast International Women’s Day than with wine by a pioneer in the New Zealand wine industry Erica Crawford? That is, Erica Crawford, partner of Kim Crawford, and that would be Kim Crawford,  the third largest and possibly the most recognizable Sauvignon Blanc brand from New Zealand?

none other than NZ wine pioneer Erica Crawford: in the yellow glasses

Last month, Que Syrah Sue and I had lunch at Wolf on Melrose with Erica Crawford.

I have to start by admitting that I was never a fan of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. Honestly, I found it a bit rough, sharp, harsh. But what I tasted was the end result of a huge commercial venture that became the third largest in New Zealand but the time it was purchased by Constellation Brands.

What Kim and Erica are doing today is completely different all the away down to the grapes in the ground and the sheep and so much more. The wines that Kim and Erica are making today are completely different: they are nuanced, subtle, seductive, complex. And they go marvelously with food as we discovered both when we opened a bottle of the Lovelock Pinot Noir at home and when we tasted three of the wines at Wolf last month.

Lovelock Pinot gris and Pinot Noir were both wonderful with the mushroom risotto with pine nuts, sorrel, peas, and pancetta

At Wolf, Erica Crawford shared with us the history of Kim Crawford  wines and New Zealand wine making throughout the last 25 to 30 years, and how they developed their brand, then selling their brand, and becoming farmers, and then developing Lovelock. There is a differentiation between Kim Crawford the brand and “Jimmie” as his wife calls him as well as a difference between this iconic brand in New Zealand and what they are doing now.

Kim Crawford the brand is best known for Sauvignon. Blanc. Loveblock wanted to get away from this but found that they still did Sauv blanc best – the land expresses sauv blanc with such nuance and complexity that it makes sense to continue to produce it. But as I mentioned, the Loveblock sauv blanc is an exceptionally beautiful expression.

Throughout her stories, Erica Crawford emphasized how it is important to their family to find the best expression of the land through the wine and to do it while taking care of the land and the family – sustainability is key, and this tied in very well to the sustainability of the restaurant which has a huge compost heap. Both the winery and the restaurant ask: What do you do with things that are considered waste? It is not trash. This is a huge contrast with many wineries that consider anything extra to be trash and bulldoze areas because it does not fit into their idea of what is valuable. Even as the Loveblock label grows, they hope to bring in to their mission statement  an ideal of responsibility and sustainability, to keep asking what do we do with waste?

It is hard to shift gears when you have such a well known internationally recognized brand such as Kim Crawford so starting Loveblock allowed them to take off in a new direction which represents their passion.

I had my doubts about rich beef cheek with Pinot Noir but Loveblock’s hearty and earthy enough to crush it!

What does a neighborhood want as opposed to what a restaurant want? That’s a question Wolf is trying to answer.

Wolf’s philosophy is to do away with restaurant waste so bone and vegetable waste is used for stock. Skin is used to fry or add flavor or add to stock.

There are nutrients that are available in these products that are wasted when you throw them away so why not use them? Same for a winery, same for a restaurant.

Same philosophy at Loveblock as at Wolf.

Wolf uses a vegetable from pit to juice to zest. An animal piece is used from meat to fat to bone. All vegie scraps that can not be used are composted and fed to either restaurant or neighborhood pig. The stock that was used for the mushroom risotto came from the mushroom stems that were discarded.

It will be a challenge to describe how exceptional this meal was, and how much we enjoyed our conversation and the wines paired with the meal. But a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

 

As you can see, the kitchen worked hard to bring this meal together for us, and Chef is quite proud of what was served as well as the way they are sustainability and attention to details and the planet pairs with Lovelock.

Our dinner was good but no comparison with this lunch at Wolf!

at home we made mushroom risotto and salmon plus rosemary skewers with tomato and mozzarella drizzled with balsamic.

Our menu:

  • Asiago cheese bread with Olive Tapenade
  • Rosemary spears with cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella
  • Charcuterie:
    smoked provolone, salami, brie, sharp irish cheddar, procuitto and provolone wraps.
  • Mushroom with Chestnuts Risotto
  • Fried Oysters
  • Grilled salmon
  • Fresh Berry Square Pie

The wine: 

Loveblock Pinot Noir – 2013 –  13.5% alcohol – 2700 Cases Produced.

Nestled in the mountains of Central Otogo, NZ is home to Lovelock’s small Pinot Noir vineyard where the climate and terroir is ideal for producing complex Pinot Noir.  This is a beautiful example of New Zealand Pinot Noir wine offering everything that you think you want and at a reasonable price putting you in New Zealand pinot noir heaven.

Inside the hefty and eye catching bottle graced with dandelions,  you’ll find a wine with a very pretty ruby red color. At first the nose was a bit shy, but as it opened up, it became quite bold, with lots of oak and lots of fruit. Wet earth became more predominate and the florals became subtle: a hint of iris, a bit of violet.

At wolf we had an amazing menu and ti was clear that the chef had considered th wines when determining what we’d be eating

 

PAIRING

We really wanted to like this wine because we loved the bottle, the label, the nose, the color, but it wasn’t as engaging on its own as we hoped however when paired with food it came ALIVE. This wine really needs a meal that it can sing with. This is not your cocktail happy hour pinot. It went really well with the provolone wrapped with procuitto and we could imagine how wonderful it would be with the meat pies are so popular in New Zealand. Surprisingly, it did not go as well with the olive tapenade and the bread because it does not lend itself to the saltiness. It wants the creaminess of a brie or the earthy loveliness of a pate to go with a gamey kind of pinot noir. The creamy mushroom risotto was just right.

And! Ta da! On Saturday March 25, I have been invited by the Consul General Leon Grice to an exclusive wine tasting event at the official New Zealand residence in Los Angeles with a session from New Zealand’s first and only Master Sommelier, Cameron Douglas, who will present a selection of New Zealand wines to showcase the diverse varieties and styles New Zealand has to offer. So excited!!

The Women

In 2015, we toasted with Sonja’s Suds from  Casa Dumetz and last year for Women’s History Month 2016, we visited and wrote about Kimberly Smith of La Montagne, and Brittany Rice-Claypool of Millisme, plus this post about Jenny Wagner of Emmolo.  This March, once again, we are focusing on more women winemakers and women in the wine business, with in person interviews with three of these important women in wine. You might want to toast with one of their wines or check out the list of women in wine we will be writing about this month. Our list includes:

Merry Edwards, winemaker at Merry Edwards in Sonoma, CA: PINOT NOIR!
Coppersmith 2014 Pinot Noir paired with charcuterie and lamb curry

 


Lisa Anselmi, management, marketing and communications,  Anslemi winery in Monteforte d’Alpone, Italy
our notes from our interview during a March 13 wine lunch in LA

Jessica Munnell, winemaker of Mercer Wines, WA:
Sharp Sisters – Red Blend – 2013 – $26
Reserve – Cavalie – 2012 – 14.7% alcohol – $42

Megan Gunderson Paredes, winemaker of Walt Wines, Sonoma, CA: PINOT NOIR!
We have notes from our interview during World Of Pinot Noir March 3, 2017.

Plus: did you know one of the biggest wineries of Idaho has a woman winemaker? and so does Idaho’s Cinder! or that Champagne Jacquart’s winemaker is a woman? All this and more coming soon on Wine Predator?

I’ll be posting these on Wednesdays as well as Saturday March 25, but if you subscribe  you won’t miss out!

How to make a fresh fruit square pie:

  • Gently mix 2 cups of fresh berries with 1/4 c. sugar, 2 T. flour, and 1 tsp spices.
  • Place pie crust in 9″ x 9″ square pan.
  • Add fruit to pan.
  • Top with dollops of marscapone, sprinkle with additional sugar and pumpkin spice.
  • Fold over crust on to top of square “pie.;” berries will show through in the gap.
  • Bake off for about 20 to 30 minutes in 350 degree oven.
  • When pulling out of the oven, your crust should be nicely browned, the berries should be bubbling through the top of the marscapone.
  • Let cool and top with dollop of ice cream or creme fraiche.

 

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