Cloudburst owner Will Berliner guided HKWS and friends through his Chardonnays(flight vintages 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016) and also the Cabernet Sauvignons( 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016) in lunch event hosted last Friday at Giando on Star Street, Wanchai.
All Chardonnay vintages show consistently peach and nectarine fruit, Provençal herbs, and a subtle note of tropical passionfruit laced with creamy lees complexity. The palate is always full flavoured on entry. Reflecting the same nose, the palate radiates grapefruit and citrus rind. The taste is long, elegant and still natural - lingering with bright fruit flavours and a hint of caramel and barrel toast. While the Chardonnay acidities are uplifting, sturdy and textural, they are being rounded off by the quite natural oakiness. Alcohol is between 13% to
2010 Chardonnay is almost Puligny-Montrachet like on the first nose with its 8-year of ageing; its palate seems 'over' at the end of the lunch though. 2012 shows particular yoghurt feel on the upper palate with long, layered fruit and spice, showing quite some potential. 2014 has a big nose, albeit a smaller yet mineral palate like a Chablis Fourchaume showing ripeness, structure and spice. 2016 fruit is the ripest of all. Fruit is even more significant, with oak slightly unresolved, which point to the prospect of how the passage of time would benefit the forming of a mature Cloudburst Chardonnay.
All Cabernet vintages are sprinkled with 7% Malbec. There is always a ripeness, and floral scent like rose clinging onto the stable cabernet expression of blackcurrant, bringing black tea, aniseed, green peppercorn. There is also raw clay, capturing the essence of the earth itself. The palate has the zing of blackberries, some spiciness of black pepper and savoury complexity. All bottle can age. For example, the oldest Cabernet here being 2010 is still youthful, lively with tannins and oak reconciled fully. The other Cabernet vintages surprise with fine tannins to create an excellent structure and a meaty finish. Alcohol is at 12.5% to 13.5%.
In additio, 2010 surprises us with a brooding colour after all those years getting into a full expression of leather, dark chocolates, green pepper and earthiness. It is still fresh round fruit. 2012 shows Margaret River cabernet typicite with peppermint. 2014 is with lots floral tones. 2016 expresses a bit of greenness and capsicum, with the alcohol bit yet to be resolved, which tells that this 2016 is to have a future.
Points of interests mentioned by Mr Berliner include, first, Cloudburst being a micro vineyard of 1.2 hectares(and only 0.5 hectare is with vines!) has with very very close plantings(30 vines per row x 31 rows in a hectare total?); second, cutting manually with scissors to contain the spread of disease; third, minimal intervention with no chemical; final, 1/3 new oak, oak fermentation and oak ageing. Finally, the grapes are phylloxera-free(from Cullen and Moss Wood). Vines prosper on his soils which has good drainage, while the high clay content enables good water retention throughout summer.
The wines fetch the price of Cullen's Vanya, the cult wine of Margaret River and surpass some of those from the most prestigeous Bordeaux and Burgundy Crus. However, all his wines are well awarded. 2010 Cabernet is awarded The Best Wine of the Show(Margaret River Wine Show 2013). It is also Best Cabernet Sauvignon and Best Single Vineyard Red Wine. (Photo of CloudBurst Cabernet 2012, left).