Cloudy Bay Te Koko is a full-bodied barrel-fermented style of Sauvignon Blanc, which is not typical of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. It is similar in style to some oaked Sancerre and is released as a fairly mature wine after 18 months in barrel and 18 months in bottle prior to release.
Cloudy Vineyards was established in 1985 by Kevin Judd (now at Greywacke in NZ) and David Hohnen (then of Cape Mentelle Vineyards, now at McHenry Hohnen in Western Australian), and is today part of Estates & Wines which is owned by the massive luxury goods company Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy. The Cloudy Bay winery and vineyards are situated in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough at the northern end of New Zealand’s South Island. This unique and cool wine region enjoys a maritime climate with the longest hours of sunshine of any place in New Zealand.
The winemaking philosophy for Cloudy Bay Te Koko is very much ‘hands off’, and is the result of winemaking curiosity. 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes are sourced from some of Cloudy Bay’s oldest vines across four distinguished vineyards producing grapes with high concentration and elegant, pure-fruited aromatics. These vineyards are in sub-regions where there are free-draining gravel based soils with shallow sandy-loam horizons. The grapes are harvested in the cool of the night so that they arrive at the winery in best condition. At the winery whole bunches of grapes are pressed and the juice is settled for 24 hours prior to racking off into old French oak barrels (8% new) where it is allowed to undergo a primary fermentation with naturally occurring (indigenous) yeasts. The primary fermentation takes 4 to 5 months and is followed by a full malolactic fermentation during the following spring. The wine then left in barrel on yeast lees for 18 months prior to bottling, and released after a further 18 months in the cellar.
The bay at the eastern extremity of the Wairau Valley of Marlborough, named Cloudy Bay by Captain Cook, was originally known as Te Koko – o – Kupe by the Maori people of the region. Legend has it that Kupe, the Tahitian explorer, dredged for oysters in the bay and Te Koko refers to the scoop used by Kupe to lift the oysters from the seabed.