In pursuit of making great wines
A tale of a Vigneron's dedication and passion to set out for making some of the worlds greatest wines. Not for fame and glory. Just for the love of wine. For that deep sensation when a wine brings that smile on your face.
Hans Herzog is a true artisan wine estate where a holistic approach to farming is not just a phrase but a way of life. Absolutely everything is done by Hans himself with the help of equally passionate people including his wife, confidante and collaborator Therese, who support him in his relentless drive for quality and perfection.
Hans himself holds 500 years of wine making lineage, selling up the family estate in Switzerland to move to Marlborough. Of course, you don’t offload 500 years of winegrowing history to do something by halves and absolutely everything what Hans does is of 'uber'-quality.
He lives and breathes the vineyard, paring down the crop until there is very little left, but what is left has the goodness, warmth, light and indeed magic each vine draws from the terroir. All to itself.
Despite a Master’s degree in Oenology, Hans sees himself as a vigneron rather than a winemaker. He loves to spend his time amongst the vines and works the land and tends the vines with immaculate detail reflecting the traditional and holistic approach of his ancestors. From hand-pruning to hand-picking and all the hard yards in between, tasks are tied-in according to the astrological calendar. Together with extremely low yields the reward is exceptionally concentrated, healthy and vibrant fruit resulting in some of New Zealand’s most age-worthy wines expressing the unique terroir and a “sense of place”.
Farming for quality, with his own hands.
TERROIR - The Herzog Vineyard
Hans identified a piece of land a long way from home in Marlborough, one of the sunniest and driest climates in New Zealand. The arid sandy and gravelly soils on the right bank of the Wairau River reminded him of the Médoc region in Bordeaux with its late ripening Cabernet, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. This river creates a special microclimate and the free draining soils make it one of the warmest and most valuable blocks in Marlborough. The exceptional sunshine hours, lengthy dry and mild autumns together with Hans’ rigorous vineyard management and extremely low yields allow even late ripening varieties to achieve perfect physiological ripeness. The significant diurnal temperature range with cool nights, typically more than 10ºC cooler than the sunny days, preserve the natural acidity in the grapes and give rise to the extraordinarily intense varietal character. The vibrant succulent ripe fruit flavours making it not only one of the world’s best wine regions but providing all the elements to continue Hans’ tradition of leading the way with new grape varieties.
Soil Composition & Microclimate
Transported by the neighbouring Wairau River, eroded materials from the rocks of its catchment were deposited as exceptional free-draining layers of mostly stony alluvial soils. Deep layers of shingle with low clay content with stony and sandy loam top soil retain and reflect the sun’s heat. The deposits vary enormously, not even consistent within a row of vines thus allowing us to match each grape variety to its ideal soil type.
During the ripening period of the grapes, the stones and gravel in the mostly dry river bed soak up the sun’s heat, which the already hot prevailing north-west wind pushes directly onto the vineyard. Warming up not only the grapes but the stones in the vineyard, which consequently release the heat during the cool nights. This extra heat helps to achieve the perfect physiological ripeness even for our very late ripening grape varieties.
In spring, the higher water levels are warming up the air and protecting our vines from frosts naturally.
Facts & Figures
Estate Vineyard 11.5ha, 28 acre (we do not buy in any grapes!)
Plant density High, with 5500 to 8000 vines per ha
Yield Extremely low >3 tonnes /ha, less than 1kg per vine
Production Quality over quantity with an average of 2,500 cases
Vineyard and Winery are certified organic. All wines are crafted from our own estate vineyard!
Trailblazer & Varietal Specialist
Along with the more traditional Pinot Noir and Bordeaux varieties, Hans successfully planted Pinot Gris, Viognier and Montepulciano, varieties rarely witnessed in New Zealand in 1994. With the overwhelming success of the very late ripening Montepulciano, Hans holds the ‘green card’ for nearly any variety and successfully planted Nebbiolo, Barbera, Tempranillo, Zweigelt, St. Laurent, Lagrein, Saperavi, Riesling, Marsanne, Roussanne, Verdelho, Arneis, Grüner Veltliner und Vermentino, becoming an inspiration for many bigger wineries who follow in his success.
Herzog Estate Winery
Hans’ high quality standards are evident in his fully equipped winery where everything, including the old bag press, is designed for the gentle processing of the hand-picked grapes. More than 180 of the finest French oak barrels age the hand-crafted wine in a beautiful temperature controlled barrel room. Special finished stainless steel tanks in sizes as small as 100 liters for special selections are used mainly as fermenters and blending. Bottling, labeling and packaging is all done at the winery to ensure the quality is never compromised.
Winemaking - Tradition meets Innovation
Hans’ wines are handcrafted naturally with no nasty additions. Eschewing adding yeast, bacteria, acid, enzymes and tannins that are almost universal in today’s wines. Sulphur is added sparingly. The wines are not cold stabilized, not fined and rarely filtered without physical or chemical stabilizations to maintain the great flavours. Hans never leaves his wines out of sight and has his own bottling and labelling machine. He releases his wines after ample time to develop and mature in barrel and bottle.
With minimal intervention the red varieties are usually fermented with a slow three week initial fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks or open fermenters. This is followed by malolactic fermentation in French oak barriques where the young wine ages from 18 to 36 months depending on the variety and vintage. All reds are unfined and unfiltered. Most of the whites are barrel fermented (or a portion of) in 500 litre French oak puncheons, left on its lees and matured in the same barrel for about 18 month. To maintain the intensive flavours, there is never any fining and rarely filtration to preserve the complexity and structure that the wines have become famous for.
HANS HERZOG WINES
WHITE Sauvignon Blanc ‘sur lie’, Sauvignon Blanc ‘Grande Duchesse’, Arneis, Chardonnay, Viognier, ‘Mistral’ Viognier-Marsanne-Roussanne, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Gris
RED ‘Spirit of Marlborough’ Merlot-Cabernet, Montepulciano, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir ‘Grand Duc’, Zweigelt, St.Laurent, Tempranillo, Saperavi, Carmenere
Sparkling Wines and other handcrafted drops… Vintage Cuvée Thérèse Rosé Brut Nature and Extra Brut, Botrytis and Amarone style releases, Grappa
"Herzog is a very serious winery dedicated to making wines of character and excellence"
- Gerard Basset OBE, MW, Best Sommelier in the World 2010