Previewing the 2019 Kim Crawford Vintage

You can expect more of the same from Kim Crawford in 2019 — and that’s a good thing.

Now a name brand, this New Zealand company was launched in 1996 by Kim and Erica Crawford. It was one of the first businesses in New Zealand to source grapes through contract wineries. Kim Crawford implemented an impressive marketing campaign that gave rise to the brand in America in the early 2000s.

The success of that campaign is a big reason why U.S. consumers have such interest nowadays in New Zealand wine — especially the country’s beloved sauvignon blanc.

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“It’s a style so distinctive that people can remember their first New Zealand sauvignon blanc,” says Kim Crawford Winemaker Anthony Walkenhorst. “The style is so fresh, lively, fruity and accessible.”

“It’s a style so distinctive that people can remember their first New Zealand sauvignon blanc,” says Kim Crawford Winemaker Anthony Walkenhorst. “The style is so fresh, lively, fruity and accessible.”

Walkenhorst was in New York earlier this month to taste media through the 2019 vintage of Kim Crawford’s sauvignon blanc, rosé and pinot gris.

Fans of the brand’s sauvignon blanc will be happy to know that the new vintage continues the same traditions as past iterations. The wine is clean, crisp, fruity and dry.

“We know that this is many people’s go-to wine,” Walkenhorst says. “The important thing for us is consistency. As head wine maker, I’m not trying to make any big changes in style here.”

In terms of Kim Crawford’s 2019 pinot gris, it should also taste welcomingly familiar. Fans will find the same flavors and aromatics of passion fruit and guava, with that consistent, high, juicy acid that ties the whole palate together. It’s about as balanced as a wine can be.

Maintaining Kim Crawford’s level of consistency is not without challenges. Fruit yield was down in the 2019 New Zealand vintage, due to drought conditions in the early part of the season. Some vineyards suffered from their fruit not filling out as much, Walkenhorst says. Altogether, this setback resulted in a smaller harvest.

For Kim Crawford, this means fewer bottles released of the 2019 vintages. But the quality and flavors remains the same. Including for the 2019 rosé.

Four years ago, Kim Crawford ramped up rosé production, in line with the booming global trend. Today, the brand’s rosé is growing around 22% annually in U.S. sales — not bad for a New Zealand take on this classic French style.

“Rosé is no longer only about Old World wines,” Walkenhorst says. “There’s so much room for it to grow now in the New World. People are happy to experiment around in this category. There’s a lot of potential to grow.”

Kim Crawford’s rosé is merlot-based. Accordingly, it’s more full-bodied and fruity. Following the hallmark of Kim Crawford and most New Zealand wines, a lovely juicy acidity again ties everything together.

So what’s next for Kim Crawford? Walkenhorst says to keep an eye out for the 2018 pinot noir, which is now coming onto market. And the brand has also become the official wine sponsor of the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

As for the 2019 vintages, they should arrive on shelves by November. That’s in time to open any three of these food-friendly wines alongside your turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or on Twitter @kswartzz or Instagram @cheers_magazine. Read his recent piece, 11 Alcohol Trends to Watch in 2019-20.

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