French Varietals

A pink coloured mutation of the genetically unstable Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris has been known in the Alsace region since the Middle Ages, before spreading across Europe. Pinot Gris is esteemed for its versatility and adaptability to various terroirs. Renowned for its early ripening, this grape produces wines with a spectrum of styles, from bone-dry to lusciously sweet, depending on winemaking techniques and region. In the glass, Pinot Gris wines often exhibit a pale straw to golden hue, with aromas of ripe orchard fruits like pear, apple, and citrus, accompanied by subtle floral and mineral notes. On the palate, they typically offer a medium to full body with a balanced acidity, showcasing flavours of stone fruits, tropical fruits, and hints of spice. Known for its approachability and food-friendly nature, Pinot Gris is cherished by wine enthusiasts for its refreshing character and ability to pair effortlessly with a wide range of cuisines.

Hans Herzog, a pioneering figure in New Zealand's winemaking realm, stands as one of the trailblazers for Pinot Gris. Renowned as the first to introduce skin contact techniques, he's instrumental in creating the iconic pink blush associated with his Pinot Gris wines. This innovative approach infuses his wines with increased structural complexity, heightened flavour profiles, and a captivating depth of colour, setting a new standard for Pinot Gris craftsmanship in New Zealand and beyond.

Named for the French words "sauvage" (meaning "wild") and "blanc" (meaning "white"), Sauvignon Blanc originates from the Bordeaux region of France. While it thrives in its homeland of Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, this green-skinned grape variety has now found a global presence, adapting to various climates and soils. The resulting wines exhibit a wide spectrum of flavours, ranging from intensely herbaceous and grassy to vibrant and tropical, influenced by terroir and winemaking techniques.

In New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc reigns supreme, representing the cornerstone of the country's wine industry. Internationally acclaimed for their zesty, fruit-forward vibrancy, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are highly sought after. Accounting for a staggering 72% of the nation's total wine production and a remarkable 86% of exports, Sauvignon Blanc has become synonymous with New Zealand wine. Marlborough, where the Sauvignon Blanc boom began in 1973, boasts over 22,000 hectares of vineyards dedicated to this varietal, cementing its status as the global epicenter for this expressive and distinctive wine style.

From the heart of Marlborough but a world apart. Handcrafted in tiny quantities for an incomparable artisan Sauvignon. Untamed, with long skin contact for complexity and texture, natural fermentation in barrel without any additions. Further maturation on its fine lees for 18 months, results in its famous silkiness. Dry and explosively rich, this is the pinnacle of a stately Sauvignon Blanc.

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Semillon is a versatile white grape varietal with a rich history and a range of expressions. Originating in the Bordeaux region of France, it has been cultivated for centuries and is known for its ability to produce a diverse array of wine styles. Historically, Semillon was widely planted in Bordeaux and used in the production of both dry and sweet wines, often blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. It is prized for its capacity to develop complex flavours and aromas with age, evolving from fresh and fruity in youth to rich and honeyed with maturity.

Semillon typically exhibits flavours of citrus, stone fruit, and honey, with a medium to full body and moderate acidity. It is often enjoyed both as a standalone varietal wine and as a component in blends, showcasing its versatility and appeal to wine enthusiasts worldwide.

Up to 15% of Semillon is co-fermented as a field blend in our Sauvignon Blanc. Semillon brings richness, texture, and aging potential to the blend, complemented by the vibrant acidity, aromatic intensity, and lively fruit flavours of Sauvignon Blanc. Together, they craft a harmonious and complex wine with layers of flavour, suitable for diverse culinary pairings and enjoyable both in its youthful vibrancy and with graceful aging.

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Viognier, originating from France's Northern Rhône region, stands out for its aromatic intensity, velvety texture, and sumptuous flavours. Growing Viognier demands meticulous care in the vineyard due to its tendency for low yields and vulnerability to diseases like powdery mildew. The choice of vineyard site is paramount, as Viognier thrives in warm climates with well-drained soils. These conditions foster ideal ripening and the development of the grape's distinctive aromas and flavours. Abundant sunlight is essential for Viognier to achieve full ripeness but the cool Mistral wind in the Rhone Valley or the cool nights in Marlborough, are essential to preserve acidity, for wines characterized by vibrant fruit expression and balanced acidity. When nurtured with precision in the vineyard and cultivated in suitable terroir, Viognier produces wines of exceptional quality, celebrated for their aromatic complexity, plush texture, and ability to reflect the unique terroir of their vineyard site.

Our renowned Viognier, lauded in Michel Bettane’s ‘World Greatest Wines,’ captivates with a captivating array of apricot, peach, and tropical flower aromas. With a full-bodied profile and substantial texture, it is expertly balanced by acidity, which imparts a remarkable backbone to the wine. Representing the pinnacle of handcrafted excellence, our Viognier epitomizes the artistry and dedication of our winemaking endeavours.

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Chardonnay, hailed as the "winemaker's grape," is a versatile white wine grape known for its relatively neutral characteristics, allowing winemakers ample opportunity to shape its flavour profile. Originating from Burgundy in eastern France, Chardonnay has become ubiquitous in vineyards worldwide due to its adaptability and familiarity to consumers.

The taste profile of Chardonnay varies significantly, influenced by factors such as terroir and winemaking techniques like oak aging, malolactic fermentation, and lees aging. This versatility results in a wide flavour spectrum, ranging from lean and crisp styles with citrus and tropical fruit notes to richer, oaky expressions with buttery undertones.

Beyond single varietal wines, Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the production of Champagne and sparkling wines, contributing flavours such as lime, green apple, and peaches in cooler climates, and pineapple, mango, and lemon curd in warmer regions. Oak aging can imparts vanilla and butterscotch nuances, while lees aging adds complexity with hints of brioche and nuttiness.. Malolactic fermentation softens acidity and enhances richness, lending the wine buttery characteristics and popcorn aromas.

Hans Herzog Chardonnay stands as a testament to the grape's potential, reminiscent of a top Meursault with exquisite complexity and concentration. This wine reveals compelling aromas of tropical fruit and white flowers, with a persistence that carries through to the last sip. Delicately aged in barrels, it showcases a rounded texture and generous mouthfeel, culminating in a triumph of Chardonnay expression. Naturally beautiful and ageless, it epitomizes the artistry and finesse of Hans Herzog's winemaking prowess. 

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Marsanne, believed to have been cultivated for centuries, is native to the Northern Rhône region, particularly in the appellations of Hermitage and Saint-Joseph, where it has long been revered for its ability to produce wines of exceptional quality and age-worthiness.

In the vineyard, Marsanne vines are known for their vigour and resilience, thriving in warm climates with well-drained soils. While it can be prone to disease and low yields, Marsanne's adaptability to various terroirs makes it a valuable asset to winemakers seeking to craft wines of complexity and nuance.

Marsanne wines are characterized by their full-bodied nature, with a rich texture and notable weight on the palate. They often exhibit flavors of ripe stone fruits such as apricot and peach, complemented by hints of citrus, honey, and floral notes. With age, Marsanne wines develop additional complexity, taking on nutty, toasty, and mineral characteristics, while retaining their freshness and acidity.

Overall, Marsanne is celebrated for its ability to produce wines of remarkable depth and elegance, offering a unique expression of terroir and winemaking craftsmanship. Whether enjoyed in its youth or after years of cellaring, Marsanne wines captivate with their complexity, richness, and age-worthy potential.

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Roussanne is a white wine grape variety that originates from the Rhône Valley in France. It is believed to have been cultivated for centuries, primarily in the Northern Rhône region, where it is often blended with Marsanne to produce the famous white wines of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Saint-Joseph.

The Roussanne vine is known for its low yields and susceptibility to disease, making it a challenging grape to cultivate. However, its thick skins provide some resistance to rot, which allows it to thrive in warmer climates with well-drained soils, such as granite and limestone.

Roussanne grapes typically ripen late in the growing season, which can result in high levels of sugar and potential alcohol content. This late ripening also contributes to the grape's complex flavor profile, which often includes notes of ripe stone fruits like apricot and peach, as well as floral aromas and hints of herbal and nutty undertones.

In winemaking, Roussanne is prized for its ability to produce full-bodied, aromatic wines with rich texture and a balanced acidity. It is often aged in oak barrels to enhance its complexity and add layers of flavor, such as vanilla and spice. Roussanne wines are known for their aging potential, developing additional depth and complexity with time in the bottle.

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other varietals

From Italy, Austria, Portugal and Germany

This white wine variety originates from the region of Piedmont in the North West of Italy. Today, it is most commonly found in the hillsides of Roero, where it forms part of Roero and Langhe’s white wines.  In the Piemontese language, Arneis translates to ‘little rascal’ owing to its difficulties as a variety to grow.

For centuries, Arneis was grown as a field blend with Nebbiolo in the Barolo region as it was believed the sweet fragrant Arneis berries would entice birds and keep them away from the more precious Nebbiolo. In winemaking, it also softened Nebbiolo’s harsh tannins leading locals to often refer to it as ‘Nebbiolo bianco, Barolo bianco or “white Barolo”. With the increase of pure Nebbiolo wines, the variety seemed fated to go extinct. Thankfully in the 1980s, the resurging interest in native Italian white wine varieties lead to an increase in plantings and export so the variety was saved.

Now mostly made into a single varietal dry white wine, Arneis wines are aromatic and fresh in flavours of pear and golden apples. Nuances of honey and almonds underlie the fruit followed by flinty nuances of chalk and sea salt.   

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Vermentino is a white wine grape variety renowned for its aromatic qualities, lively acidity, and vibrant fruit flavors. Originating from the Mediterranean regions of Italy and France, particularly Sardinia, Liguria, and Provence, Vermentino thrives in warm, coastal climates with well-drained soils.

In the vineyard, Vermentino vines exhibit vigorous growth and a resistance to drought, making them well-suited to dry, sunny environments. The grapes typically ripen towards the end of the growing season, producing medium-sized clusters of small, round berries with thin skins.

Vermentino wines are distinguished by their crisp acidity and refreshing citrus notes, often accompanied by hints of tropical fruits, green apple, and delicate floral aromas. Depending on the terroir and winemaking techniques employed, Vermentino can range from light and zesty to more full-bodied and textural.

During winemaking, Vermentino is often fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve its fresh fruit character and acidity. However, some producers may opt for oak aging or lees stirring to enhance complexity and mouthfeel.

Overall, Vermentino is prized for its versatility, producing wines that are both approachable and age-worthy. Its bright acidity and aromatic profile make it an excellent companion to a variety of dishes, from seafood and salads to poultry and pasta.

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This white wine grape is believed to date back to Roman times, likely being indigenous to Austria. Its name translates to the “Green Wine of Veltlin”, with Veltlin being an area in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bordering on Switzerland. However, historians have not yet found a link between the grape and the Italian commune. Today it is grown mainly in Austria, with some plantings in the nearby Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.  In recent years, small plantings of this grape have arisen in the New World, primarily in the countries of USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Grüner Veltliner often makes a dry white wine, with distinctive undertone of green peppercorn, dill and fennel. Paired with fresh vibrant fruit notes of pear, citrus and peach, this makes Grüner Veltliner a versatile food wine, offering both body and complexity. With the use of oak during winemaking, a rich creamy texture is attained. 

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This pink or red coloured grape variety is often used to make white wines of varying levels of sweetness. Best grown in cooler regions, this aromatic grape’s homeland lies in the foothills of the Alps in the German-speaking province of South Tyrol in northern Italy. Today, plantings have expanded all over the world to other cool climate regions. Most notable of these regions include Alsace in France, Moldova, and Mendoza in Argentina.

Instantly recognizable from its intense perfume of lychees and Turkish  roses, Gewürztraminer wines also bring forth note of bitter oranges, grapefruit and tangerines. Spicy ginger, cinnamon and cloves also make the wine the perfect match for South East Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine.  Styles range from bone dry, to noble rot-affected dessert wines. It is also increasingly, a popular grape to make skin contact/orange wine from.  

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Riesling, the great ancient grape of Germany could claim to be the finest white grape variety in the world for the longevity of its wines and their ability to transmit the characteristics of a vineyard without losing Riesling's own inimitable style. This noble variety has several written references dating back to the 15th century and DNA profiling revealed a parent–offspring relationship with one of the most ancient and prolific wine grape of Western Europe, Gouais Blanc. Riesling is usually included in the "top three" white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. A favourite among Sommeliers and Winemakers who know that, thanks to their magical combination of acidity and extract, these wines can develop for decades in bottle, regardless of alcoholic strength and residual sugar. The variety will always be distinguished for its ability to produce great sweet wines - from Eiswein (ice wine) or the botrytized Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese and their counterparts outside Germany. The light-skinned, aromatic grape variety is highly "terroir-expressive".

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