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MARY-JEANNE HUTCHINSON FROM CRAGGY RANGE TALKS WITH THE NEW ZEALAND CELLAR

July 17, 2019

MARY-JEANNE HUTCHINSON FROM CRAGGY RANGE TALKS WITH THE NEW ZEALAND CELLAR

Who do you admire most in the world of wine and why?

When I was studying Wine Marketing (late 1990s, early 2000s) I read ‘The Vines of San Lorenzo’ by Angelo Gaja. His ability to take a risk and have faith had a huge impact on me. I’ve collected Sori San Lorenzo since. 
Cheesy, but I have to add Dad in too. For turning what I pictured a hobby farm (trying making great wines nevertheless) into a true family legacy.

What wine variety are you most excited about for it’s future in NZ?

Too hard!
We did a Masterclass in Australia a few days ago with Julian Grounds our chief winemaker, around Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

NZ is seeing a maturity of understanding of site and clonal selections for Chardonnay that means you will see Chardonnay with complexity and cellar potential like never before. We are planting more Chardonnay on our Gimblett Gravels Vineyard in the soils closest to the Original gravel mine, stony soils and Chardonnay are a great combo!

We also did a 5 year vertical of Aroha, our Prestige Pinot Noir in the class. The wines tell the story of the vineyard but also so beautifully of their year. 
We have recently bought more extraordinary land on Te Muna Road from 4th generation sheep farmer, John Donald. The opportunity around trial blocks, massale ( a French wine growing term for the practice of replanting new vineyards with cuttings from exceptional old vines) and bringing the best of old Te Muna is incredibly exciting.  

Have you had a “wine moment” ? 

So many ‘wine moments’ ! 
I’d worked in hospitality running mainly charity events, and in my mother’s restaurant and Queensland Cultural Centre , so it didn’t feel like a stretch .
Dads businesses were all waste management and trucking. We wanted something we could be involved in. Particularly at that time (talking early 1990s) , the businesses were not very female friendly. 

What are your 5 favourite wines available at The New Zealand Cellar?

In no particular order: 

Felton Road Block 5 (funny story behind this fabulous Riesling when I first met Blair).

Kumeu Mates Chardonnay .... earliest inspiration around what great Chardonnay in NZ can be. Mum and dad had been on the world search for an established winery. Dad was in NZ with his truck distributor and went to visit the Brajkovitch family. He tasted Matès Chardonnay, came back to Australia and said "We need to look at New Zealand" . 

Started the realisation that we could start from scratch . A lightbulb moment . 


Egg envy over Tony Bish Wines ..

I cooked staff meal a couple of weeks ago at Craggy and opened some great bottles from my cellar .

Zen was exceptional ... I’m not sure if you will have , but you should . 


Nuedorf 

Love the people : I’m going to say Rosie’s Vineyard because I can see she is a bucket of joy and will continue in fab family footsteps . And Mel loves Rosie


Ata Rangi Pinot Noir.

A family with a relentless drive for quality (as do all listed) , without going into vintages . 


I opened a bottle of 1999 Trinity Hill Syrah recently that blew my mind. Still with freshness of fruit and incredible complexity and layers of flavour.


That’s more than 5

Is there a specific wine region you benchmark your wines against?

Yes, of course. We wanted to make wines that can sit on any world stage (and we are). Our Vineyards have their own DNA or Terroír but inspiration is all around. The obvious suspects ; Burgundy, Bordeaux and Northern Rhone are always with us.

What is your biggest learning curve you’ve met working in the industry?

By default, I became the distributor for Craggy in Australia from our first vintage in 1999. We had tiny quantities, and I had friends with restaurants and resorts who became clients. It made sense for a number of years, but the distribution side of the wine industry has changed enormously over the years. Recognising when someone else can do a ‘me’ job better is a steep learning curve. We work closely with all our distributors, Mezzanine Wines in Australia included, just a more emotional connection for me. 

We have recently opened our other half ‘The Australian Cellar’ - Have you tasted many Australian Wines and if so which region are you most excited for?

I was born in Australia so my palate pre Craggy is most defined by Australian wines in a general sense. Margaret River was always our go to, and Cooler climate regions (for me) are the stars.
I was at Dark MOFO in Hobart two weeks ago (bucket list if you like weird, dark fabulousness). We had a Moorilla Estate Chardonnay at MONA that blew my mind. The step up in 5 years since my last visit was astounding. Tassie bubbles also really surprising and delightful.

Set the scene for us. You are having the night of your life ….

What are you drinking (from your own range)? 

We don’t make bubbles because we believe they will never be as good as the best, but I do love great champagne. So ignoring the question, we will start with a few great bottles and then Craggy Riesling from different vintages and offer LBC 2011, Sophia 2013 and Le Sol 2007.  

Who are you drinking it with?

I always prefer small and family and/or closest buddies... they know who they are. And Mel! 

What are you eating?

In no particular order...
My dad catches mud crabs that money can’t buy, and Whiting. 
Faux Gras
Tossed spinach with chilli
Wagyu
Brie de monde 

And What music is playing?

Favourites I’ve seen live on my running playlist at the moment are...
Pulp
Cake
Damian Rice
Lou Reed
Iggy Popp
Connan Mockasin
The Cure
David Byrne
Gorrilaz
New Order
Janes Addiction 
Leonard Cohen 
DePeche Mode




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