Wine Talk... Do Italian varieties from Marlborough equal to their native "cousins"?

“Many Italian grapes grow well on slopes and hillsides, and in volcanic or alluvial soils - all of which New Zealand has. Throw in a moderate climate and amazing sunshine, and you get these wines with great purity of fruit flavours" Fongyee Walker MW.

Rather than the exaggerated spike in heat over the summer, with climate change being a major challenge in recent years, Marlborough’s temperate climate with cool nights makes for an enviable long ripening period. This allows the fruit to ripen slowly, ensuring complexity and high fruit intensity, flattering not only the Italian grape varieties but making Marlborough one of the world’s best climates to grow any wines.

This is amplified by our vineyard’s microclimate owing to its location on the banks of a mighty river and its unique terroir of well-drained sandy and gravelly alluvial soils. Another huge advantage when it comes to harvest is Marlborough’s dry and warm autumns. There is no pressure to pick because of unstable weather, we can wait for the perfect timing for physiologically ripe fruit. You will never find vintage variation in terms of quality for our wines. But it will be good advice to check when it comes to European regions.

What Herzog has in common with the greatest Italian wine producers, besides a superior microclimate and terroir, is the philosophy for higher density planting and lower yields for complex, powerful and long-lived wines. Top producers are using only their own grapes to have total control over the quality of the fruit and practice an artisanal approach to wine growing.  They show exceptional vinivication skills and are mindful of a natural and non-interventionist winemaking for wines of integrity.

Nebbiolo, Barbera & Arneis are all from the Piedmont region in North-western Italy. A region with fewer sunshine hours than Marlborough and unpredictable weather, especially during harvest. It is advisable to invest in wines from good vintage years and top producers, as good Barolos and Barbaresco’s are generally very expensive. One for the bucket list, a stately 2013 Gaja Sperss Langhe Barolo sets you back NZ$401 a bottle (average price according to Wine searcher). Otherwise try our 2013 Nebbiolo, same principles as described above, but slightly more affordable.

To learn more about out Piedmonte native grapes, click the links below:




Montepulciano ancestral home is Abruzzo in central Italy but surprisingly, Marlborough still beats it with its average 2,500 sunshine hour and more per year. Montepulciano di Abbruzzo can be a lovely wine but most often comes from higher, commercial yields. Its fair to say that they are often also less expensive. However, if you look for a top Montepulciano from a top producer like Valentini, you will invests a few hundred dollars for a bottle of a current vintage. Average price according to Wine searcher is $360 which makes our quite renowned Monte a pretty good alternative 😉.

Fascintated by this powerful grape variety, click here to learn more!

If you want to invest in something exclusive, try our Montepulciano Amarone style. It has been so much work that 2012 remains our last vintage but the wine will sing for many more years to come.

To create an Amarone style wine, the grapes must be handpicked, selecting bunches where the fruit is not close together, allowing good air flow through the bunch. They are then dried out on straw mats or pallets in airy rooms in order to concentrate the grapes flavours and sweetness prior to vinification. This process can last anywhere from 3-6 months. The grapes will then go through a gentle press, cool fermentation and ageing in barrel (in our case for 2 years), which results in a complex, rich and luscious wine. An absolute powerhouse for the palate.

Sound intriguing? Click here to read our tasting notes for this exquisite and rare addition.

Lagrein is our newest kid on the block and native to North-eastern Italy. The Family Winery Tiefenbrunner in Trentino - Alto Adige, makes a pretty mean one at an affordable price. Unfortunately, not available in New Zealand so we recommend to try our one. Still young but very savoury…

To learn more about our very own Lagrein, click here

Now on to our last but certainly not least varietal, Sangiovese. Hans planted this varietal a few years so we have not yet seen the finished nectar. But from what we have tried from the barrel this is going to be an extremely impressive result. Sangiovese is a force to be reckoned with and is one of the most widely planted varietals in Italy. Sangiovese produces wines of robust flavours, varying from cherries, red plum and strawberry to more savory characteristics such as dried herbs, (Oregano/Thyme), leather and tobacco. These flavours are obviously determined by its terroir and winemaking. We are looking forward to sharing with you our Sangiovese, but in the meantime explore and taste your way through our Italian varietals by clicking here.

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