Loveblock was forged from a love affair with a view and a challenge. Loveblock is perched on top of the hill overlooking Marlborough's Awetere Valley, far removed from the agricultural bustle below. You can almost see the end of the planet; the peace lifts you above your troubles. Loveblock is charged with creating the best wine to express this special place.
“Loveblock,” says Erica, “is a love story.”
Loveblock is founded by Erica, and her husband, Kim, renowned veterans of the New Zealand wine industry. Erica, a graduate from the University of Cape Town, started her career as an aspirational medical scientist, progressing into the pharmaceutical industry. Erica made New Zealand her home after marrying her husband. Kim trained at New Zealand’s Massey University and specialized in Oenology at South Australia’s Roseworthy College. Kim returned to his native New Zealand following stints at Arrowfield in Hunter Valley, Stags Leap Winery in Napa Valley and Backsberg Estate in South Africa.
Erica and Kim began making wine under their own label in 1996 and later sold that business. However, both were lured back by an untamed parcel of land on a hillside in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley and the prospect of making wines that showed “true and naked terroir.”
“We wondered what we could do with this wildness: How would the unique terroir translate to flavors in wine?” Erica says. “Can we make wine that is elegant, restrained and complex? Wine that speaks of its place and a season?”
To make the wines, Erica jokes that she “hired the best winemaker I know – my husband."
That would be Kim, a past “New Zealand Winemaker of the Year” and colorful industry personality. “I am Erica’s husband,” says Kim, “and the winemaker here at Loveblock. Making wine is really the only thing I have ever done. I’ve been doing it for almost 30 years now.”
Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc and Loveblock Pinot Gris both hail from the Loveblock vineyard in Marlborough. For the Loveblock Pinot Noir, Erica and Kim have turned to their “Someone’s Darling” vineyard on the Bendigo Loop Road in Central Otago.
Loveblock’s “Someone’s Darling” block was named after a legend that in the mid-1800s, the farmer who owned the land found the body of a young man on the property. The farmer buried him and for the lack of name, identity and kin, he simply engraved on the course wooden cross “Someone’s Darling.”
These vineyards, one at the north end of New Zealand’s South Island, the other at the south end, might be hundreds of miles apart, but love surely connects them.
“The land has its own rhythm and we respect that,” Erica says. “We don’t try to change that rhythm. We submit to that and the deep, intimate relationship it demands from those who work the land. We are the custodians of the land, and our reward is the elegant, yet complex wines made from the grapes we grow.”
The Loveblock farm in Awatere Valley is certified organic by BioGro New Zealand, the country’s leading organic certifier. The Central Otago property, purchased in 2008 and dedicated solely to Pinot Noir, is SWNZ (Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand) accredited.
“Our philosophy was anchored in 2000 when life forced me to carefully and progressively examine the chemical nature of our immediate environment,” Erica says. “As a result, we are creating a self-sustaining estate with meticulous soil and plant management, leading to the production of grapes like no other.”
He has made Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc with lifted aromatics with peach, juicy citrus notes underscored with blackcurrant and tomato plant spice. The palate is elegant and restrained with peach combining beautifully with the citrus flavors and fresh acidity. The wine lingers long in the mouth, with inherent minerality.
Pinot Gris plantings are about one-eighth those of Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand (20,215 hectares to 2,400), but the varietal is quietly drawing increasing interest. Erica and Kim believe the harsh environment that makes the Loveblock Farm ideal for Sauvignon Blanc – most notably, strong winds that slow vine growth and leads to very small berries with high aromatic concentration – also makes it suited to whites in general, including Pinot Gris.
The Loveblock Pinot Gris wine is a potpourri of yellow wildflowers underscored with lychee and musk melon and almond flavor. Finishing dry, the wine has great minerality and length – a product, in part, of the extra year in bottle before release.
“Anything from the Pinot family is better with a year in the bottle,” Kim says. “The secondary flavors start to appear and the wines have more interest.”
Pinot Noir is now the second-most planted variety in New Zealand, and the Central Otago region – the southernmost wine growing region in the world – has become known for producing the most distinctive Pinots in the country.
The Loveblock Pinot Noir is big and rich with sweet berry fruit flavors, hints of mushroom and oak and balanced dry tannins. Aromas of dark fruit with perfumed violet notes and a hint of oak.
“I thought the flavors we could extract had the potential to be quite special and distinctive, intense yet elegant. I am just lucky enough that we are in a position to experiment,” Kim says, “return the balance to the land and make the best wine I can, doing what I love.”