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5 Questions for Steve Smith

Steve Smith is one of my favorite people in the wine trade, his Craggy Range is one of my favorite wineries and the Craggy Range “Le Sol” is one of my favorite wines.  Recently, Smith was in New York with Matt Stafford, who has been elevated to chief winemaker at Craggy, for a component tasting of the 2013 “Sophia” red Bordeaux blend followed by a luncheon downstairs at Jean-Georges featuring four of the 2011 Craggy reds. 

Both men are excited about the 2013 wines – both the reds that are still in the aging and blending process and the delicious, complex “Te Muna” Sauvignon Blanc that was served as a warm-up wine.  For New Zealand, Smith calls 2013 “the vintage of a generation.”

While waiting for the fashionably-late New Yorkers to arrive, I asked Smith five questions.

One:  What current wine trends most interest you?  “I like the increasing interest in things that are indigenous, the grapes and wines that are out of the mainstream.”  And? “A conscious decision to make reds with less alcohol.” And? “The natural wine movement, but not as it’s driven by ideology but more as counter-culture to industrialized winemaking.”

Two: Is there a wine or wine region that has caught your attention?  “Albarinos! I love those wines – so aromatic with great texture.”

Three: Is there anything new and exciting at Craggy Range?  “We have planted a vineyard of Alsatian whites at Martinborough – Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc – that we will pick all on the same day and will co-ferment.  It will only be 1,500 – 2,000 cases.  We’re also planting some Tempranillo, but right now we only see that as a possible blending grape.”

Four: We’re tasting “Sophia” components today – what is your favorite pairing with the wine?  “We also make honey at Craggy, and that, with a local, semi-soft, brie-like cow’s cheese called Pink and White Terraces, is ideal.  I was surprised first time I tasted them together.”

Five: You come to the U.S. often. What do you like about visiting? “You have so many great cities that I get to visit, although I am more interested in their architecture than in their museums.  And it’s also good if I have time to visit a local gold course!”

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