Cloudy Bay: A tete-a-tete on the New Zealand vineyard’s iconic wines

Exploring Cloudy Bay wines with its Technical Director, Jim White

For centuries, the French regions of Bordeaux and then Burgundy dominated any discussion about the world’s best wines. However, the past few decades have seen something of a renaissance in New World vintages – a fact not lost on eager oenophiles looking to expand their horizons and their collections. Among the new crop of up-and-coming regions is New Zealand, with its crisp, flavoursome Sauvignon Blancs firmly leading the charge. Perhaps the most notable of these Kiwi vineyards is Cloudy Bay, located at the very tip of the nation’s South Island. We talk to Jim White, Technical Director of Cloudy Bay, to find out more…

Cloudy Bay Saugivnon Blanc

What made you decide to move to New Zealand and join Cloudy Bay?

I was actually offered the role while working for the winery that started Cloudy Bay in 1985, Cape Mentelle in Margaret River. I’d visited Cloudy Bay a few years prior and fell in love with New Zealand then. It’s not every day that an opportunity arrives to be involved in grape growing and making wines at such an iconic winery as Cloudy Bay, so I jumped at the chance.

Jim White, Technical Director of Cloudy Bay Vineyard
Jim White, Technical Director of Cloudy Bay Vineyard

What are some of the characteristics that set Cloudy Bay’s winemaking apart from its competitors?

We just try to make wines that speak of the soil, climate and people of our home in New Zealand, we strive for freshness, vibrant fruitiness and balance. The key to making our distinctive wines are in the vineyards, their terroirs and  the detailed work that we do during the growing season. It’s what sets us apart from other New Zealand wineries, a fact that is particularly evident in our Sauvignon Blanc.  

Passion and hard work are the driving factors behind the success of Cloudy Bay wines

What would you say are the defining characteristics of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc?

The wine always has a core of citrus (limes, grapefruit), stone fruit (peach, nectarine) aromas and flavours with hints of passionfruit, the flavours explode in the mouth, and the finish is long and dry with refreshing acidity. In one word delicious. 2018 was the warmest season on record in Marlborough, meaning our earliest finish to harvest, only by one day. The weather conditions helped create a hugely aromatic Sauvignon Blanc with ripe flavours with intense, concentrated flavour.

Fruity and dry with a long finish, the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is a true treat

Tell us a little bit about Appellation Marlborough Wine (AMW) and what it stands for.

AMW is a self-imposed quality standard covering grape varieties (100 percent Sauvignon Blanc), grape source (100 percent from Marlborough), vineyard yields and bottling in New Zealand to ensure consumers get the very best quality Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that the region is so famous for.  It is an initiative of 45 of Marlborough’s quality focused producers who want to enhance the regions wine quality reputation.

Finally, what is your own personal favourite wine?

That’s a tricky one to answer as I love a diverse number of wines from around the world, as they say variety is the spice of life. If I had to choose one only to drink every day, it would be a toss-up between a great Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, from where, well anywhere really as long as it’s delicious!

Thank you.

Interview by: Tenzing Thondup
Photos: Cloudy Bay