By James Atkinson
Hawkes Bay winery Church Road is set to expand the Australian distribution of its range of New Zealand wines, which is uniquely focused on Chardonnay and Bordeaux red varieties.
The Church Road wines are currently exclusive to Woolworths, but owner Pernod Ricard will be expanding distribution to include independents and other chains from July 1.
While Church Road does make smaller quantities of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, they will not play a role in its Australian range, which includes Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Bordeaux-style red blends of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
There are three SKUs of both the Bordeaux blends and Chardonnays; the premium Church Road, the Church Road Reserve and the top-shelf TOM, which pays tribute to legendary winemaker Tom McDonald and is only produced in outstanding vintages.
Winemaker Chris Scott (pictured) told TheShout that the first tier Church Road range demonstrates a more accessible, consumer friendly style, with a palate that is "quite soft, round, rich and friendly".
He said Church Road's best vineyards that historically produce the best fruit year after year are targeted to the top wines.
"As you get to the Reserve the wine's a bit more powerful but it's all in a tighter framework, it's more linear across the palate," he said.
"By the time you get up to the TOM you're getting something quite flinty and serious, it's not just relying on fruit and oak it's actually relying on some really serious complexity from wild fermentation and high solids fermentation."
Scott said the fact that Church Road's lead varieties are not Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir differentiates it from many other NZ wineries.
"And I think the thing that comes through quite strongly is that the Church Road wines have an extra dimension of mouthfeel, there's always a real textural completeness that sets them apart for me," he added.