Saturday, March 22, 2008

Small New Zealand Wineries Part 2

Clos Henri is a relatively new entrant to the Wairau valley of the Marlborough wine growing region. This property is also located close to Renwick and is actually opened by the Bourgeois family from the Sancerre region in France. The first vines were planted in 2001 with emphasis on bringing out the terroir. There are a multitudes of soils here but they essentially are either clay based or rocky riverbed. Their "Bel Echo" offerings of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir show definite minerality and bely the rocky riverbed soil which it was planted on. The "Clos Henri" series on the other hand definitely is more earthy, rich and deep being planted on predominantly clay. Of all the wines tasted in this region - these wines strike me as the most "terroir transparent" I have tried so far.

Their vine planting densities are some of the highest around here of around 5000 vines per hectare. I have high hopes for this property in the future as their vines begin to acquire age and more experience is gained each year on the boundaries of each specific "terroir".

There is definite potential here for these wines - give the vines some age, more experience with the soil and LOWER YIELDS. If there is one sticking point it's the yields which tend to be on the higher end. At ~50 Hl/Ha, this is just too high to produce anythng worthy of the "ultra-premium" status and certainly world class. To get there, we are going to have to drop fruit yields by 30% or more so let's watch this space - it's a great start.

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