When Clearview Estate owners first purchased their Te Awanga, Hawke’s Bay vineyard in 1986, they weren’t quite sure what an unusual grape variety already established on the land was. But after a bit of investigation, they discovered it was Chambourcin, a French-American hybrid that had only become available in 1963.
While its parentage is uncertain, Chambourcin is a teinturier, a grape whose juice is pink or red, rather than clear like most red vitis vinifera cultivars. After some experimentation, this coloured juice was transformed into a deep-coloured, vibrant rosé, which has become an increasingly popular wine for Clearview Estate.
Black Reef Blush, is a multi-award winning wine that was originally called Dave’s Blush, after one of Clearview Estate’s original growers, David Ward, who was the instigator of the idea to use the ruby coloured juice for wine.
Tim Turvey, Clearview co-owner and original winemaker, says the philosophy and process hasn’t changed much over the intervening years. “We’ve just been polishing it up a little. Right from the start we wanted to make a statement with our wines, and this highly coloured, highly flavoured rosé does just that.”
The string of awards that Black Reef Blush has achieved consistently over the years, is testament to this. As is the increasing demand for the wine, and the fact that despite increasing plantings and production year on year for the past five, supplies have run out a few months every year prior to the next season’s bottling.
“Rosé is no longer considered just a spring and summer drink, it is being drunk all year round. Restaurants and cafes have responded to this change and you’ll find it on many wine lists continually now,” says Turvey.
With the 2015 Black Reef Blush sold out months ago, Clearview has bottled its 2016 vintage earlier than ever before so that it could be delivered into the hands of its waiting consumers.
Bottled at Wineworks in Hawke’s Bay earlier in June, Clearview despatch staff were busy within days, sending out orders to anticipating trade and VIP customers keen to taste this year’s offering.
“This wine has an opulent taste of raspberry and cherry that’s balanced by a long refreshing finish,” says Tim Turvey, while co-owner Helma van den Berg says “Black Reef Blush is our most popular lunch wine choice, across all seasons. With the first burst of fruit on the nose and its lower alcohol, it’s an easy match with our full menu – from mains and desserts to our platter and cheeseboard.”
For Matt Kirby, this is his second season winemaking the Blush. He says the red grapes used in the wine were given up to 12 hours skin contact, except the Chambourcin, which was crushed and de-stemmed straight into the press, and then pressed out. The wine was cool fermented and bottled early to safeguard the abundant berry character.