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Boutique 5 Star Red from Hans Herzog aged 10 years before release

21 July 2015|Cellar Journal

Hans Herzog produces more World Class wines than any other NZ winemaker! With an incredible 29 different grape varieties planted, Hans Herzog channels 385 years of European winemaking traditions to produce a spectacular array of world class NZ wines!


Hans Herzog


With a willingness to embrace everything from the controversial (Zweigelt, Nebbiolo, Arneis, St Laurent, Montepulciano) to the accepted (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling) - Hans Herzog might well be the most eccentric, yet brilliant, winemaker in New Zealand.

Certainly, nobody comes close to matching him for the sheer variety of his skill with different varieties, albeit usually only made in tiny quantities.

Hans Herzog's family has been making wine since 1630 and he and wife Therese ran a successful winery in their native Switzerland before they found their dream piece of land in Marlborough. While few Kiwis would think Marlborough is the place to plant Bordeaux varieties, Hans has never listened to the opinions of the masses. His Merlot/Cab Franc, Spirit of Marlborough has now become a cult wine, with a regular 5 Stars from Michael Cooper and being described by eRobertParker.com as "a dead ringer for a classy Medoc." Aged nearly 10 years prior to release, Hans regards this 2005 as his finest vintage yet.

As with most Herzog wines, profit is well down the list of priorities, as seen from Hans' willingness to drop crop to marginally economic levels to ensure perfect ripeness and concentration. Then you factor in his extensive and expensive barrel regime (where nearly every wine, white and red, sees prolonged oak maturation) and his insistence on only releasing wines after many years when they are nearly at their best - and you see this is either a labour of love or the work of a madman.

Fortunately it's the former - Hans is nothing short of brilliant, with every wine he makes being a work of contemplation, joy and ultimately, evolution. The detailed elevage produces wines that perform magnificently in the cellar and particularly with food, due to their impressive texture (aided by his preference for bottling without fining or filtration.)

Hans Herzog Spirit of Marlborough 2005

Hans Herzog Spirit of Marlborough 2005

A completely unique wine on the NZ landscape - widely praised as'a dead ringer' for classed growth Bordeaux and aged nearly 10 years prior to release!

5 Stars - Michael Cooper
93/100 - Fine Wine Delivery

"Who says you can't make outstanding claret-style reds in the South Island? The Spirit of Marlborough is a very harmonious, Bordeaux-like wine, savoury and complex, with cassis, herb, spice and leather notes, like a good St Estephe." 5 Stars, Michael Cooper

One of the most remarkable wines made in NZ, Spirit is a 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc... By most conventional wisdom, you shouldn't be able to make top end Merlot Cabernet wines in Marlborough, due to famously cool maritime climate. Yet not only does Hans make it - he ages it for nearly 10 years before release to massive acclaim. Grab a bottle for yourself to see why - you'll never guess it is 10 years old. It will go another 10 years with ease...

SMELLS: Intensely pure cassis and mint, with notes of graphite, tobacco and leather.

TASTES: Rich and leathery, with fine, but assertive tannins, the structure is European in style (no surprise for Hans, with his love of Bordeaux!). Plenty of years left in this one, enjoy its maturation from 2015-2025 with a nice piece of rib eye steak or lamb rack.

Hans Herzog Grand Duc Pinot Noir 2013

Hans Herzog Grand Duc Pinot Noir 2013

Just the second release ever - only released in the finest vintages and 2013 was as fine as they come!

94/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co

Only crafted in the finest years, Hans Herzog sacrifices Pinot Noir down to 600 grams per vine to produce the highest quality his vineyard will sustain. Wild fermented like all Herzog wines, the Grand Duc Pinot Noir matured for 24 months in a combination of new and seasoned French Oak. A majestic Pinot Noir of the very highest order, this wine will last the distance through 2025.

SMELLS: Deeply aromatic with notes of berry compote, vanilla, cherries and exotic spices.

TASTES: Wonderfully silky and elegant, with sweet, juicy cherry fruit and cranberry. Taut acid and fine, ripe tannins make this the perfect candidate for the cellar, or simply enjoy it young after some time in a decanter.

Hans Herzog Montepulciano 2010

Hans Herzog Montepulciano 2010

The most opulent red in the Herzog portfolio - only just released since it's only just become ready to drink!

93/100 - Fine Wine Delivery

The mad Swiss Scientist from Marlborough, Hans Herzog and his wife Therese have always done things completely differently to the norm, growing such wines as Nebbiolo and Zweigelt on their prime gravelly micro-climate off Rapaura Road in Marlborough. Hans has proved that if you crop low and leaf trim, you can ripen traditionally warm climate grapes like this Montepulciano into world class fine wines. Aged for 30 months on fine less in partially new French oak barrels, this wine will drink well through 2025 and beyond if well stored.

SMELLS: Aromatic fragrances of leather, berries, soaped skin, plum, cola nut, liquorice and clove.

TASTES: Juicy and sweetly fruited, with chocolatey and cedary oak aromas coming through on the lush, soft palate. Boldly flavoured and sensuously textured, it will improve to its best drinking from 2017 onwards.

Hans Herzog Zweigelt 2013

Hans Herzog Zweigelt 2013

The only Zweigelt in New Zealand - an awesome and unique wine experience!

93/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co

Hans Herzog makes the only Zweigelt in NZ to our knowledge, the grape being well known in Austria but few other places. Originally a crossing between St Laurent and Blaufrankisch, this obscure grape actually works incredibly well in Hans Herzog's Rapaura vineyards, creating a spicy, unique red perfectly suited to cellar aging.

SMELLS: Fragrant aromas of black cherry, tobacco, pepper, plums, Marzipan and an array of exotic Eastern spices.

TASTES: Juicy, spicy and focused in the mouth supported by a razor-sharp backbone of integrated acid, propped up by fine, silky tannins. A real hidden gem of the NZ wine industry, it's a must try for those who like European reds. Enjoy through 2025.

Hans Herzog Chardonnay 2012

Hans Herzog Chardonnay 2012

"A notably powerful wine…with impressive complexity and a lasting finish - 5 Stars" Michael Cooper

5 Stars - Michael Cooper
94/100 - Fine Wine Delivery Co

Hans Herzog Chardonnay is aged in 500-litre oak puncheons to minimise oak flavour while retaining the benefits like micro-oxidation. This sophisticated Chardonnay is wild fermented and then aged on its fine lees for 20 months, imbuing the wine with an incredible richness.

SMELLS: Delicious, mouth-watering aromas of honeyed quince, grapefruit, stonefruit and grilled hazelnut.

TASTES: Creamy and full-bodied with peach and biscuit notes giving way to a flinty mineral character and clean nectarine acidity driving the long finish. An excellent accompaniment for Asian-style food and pasta, this wine has plenty of aging capacity with bottles we've tried in very good shape a decade from vintage.

Hans Herzog Viognier 2012

Hans Herzog Viognier 2012

As good as Viognier gets in New Zealand - a characterful and sensitively made European-style white

5 Stars - Michael Cooper
93/100 - Fine Wine Delivery

No winemaker in NZ is more meticulous and understanding of their terroir than Hans Herzog; if its wearing a Hans Herzog label it's not just a guarantee of quality but also that the wine will prove an inspiring and often cerebral experience. All of Hans grape varieties have been carefully selected for their clonal material and absolute harmony with his specific soils and sites. He always crops very low to achieve ripeness, concentration and balance allowing the varietal characters to excel; this Viognier is typical of all those things and I would prefer to buy Hans wine than similarly priced Rhone Condrieu (the home of Viognier).

SMELLS: Enticingly rounded aromas of white flowers, apricot, peach, spices and honey.

TASTES: The weight and texture are impressive and embrace a rich array of stone fruits and spices infused with honey and buoyed by a salty freshness. It is perfectly poised between richness and finesse and unlike quite a few Viognier I would not easily tire of this wine; on the contrary I would find it quite contemplative. Enjoy with poultry inspired dishes now through 2018.