In a very competitive fine wine market, Marlborough’s Clos Henri estate has emerged as one of this year’s outstanding producers.
In The Real Review’s ranking list of Top Wineries of New Zealand 2019, Clos Henri shot up 72 places on last year to reach number 19.
It’s a staggering achievement for this terroir focused vineyard that specialises in Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
In particular, the estate’s latest Sauvignon Single Vineyard releases from clay and gravel soils were praised for taking Sauvignon Blanc to a new level.
“It’s very flattering for us as a team and nice recognition for the Bourgeois family who had the vision to establish the vineyard here 19 years ago,” says general manager and winemaker Damien Yvon.
That vision was inspired by a winegrowing heritage dating back 10 generations.
Years of searching for a new slice of terroir, similar to the family’s ancestral home in the Sancerre wine region of the eastern Loire valley, led to Marlborough’s Wairau Valley.
Today, Clos Henri combines the best of French and New World winegrowing techniques to express Marlborough’s intense character and a specificterroir that encompasses three different soil types.
High density planting is a defining practice in the organically run vineyard, one that drives vines’ roots deeper and brings greater fruit concentration through competitive pressure.
This European approach to planting has strongly influenced the unique flavour and quality of the estate’s wines.
“If you’re terroir driven, you know it will take time to get the results you want. [But] now we’re really starting to see the benefits.”
Damien’s passion and meticulous attention to detail as on-site winemaker, leading a committed young team, is a key factor in the Clos Henri success story.
He has been at the helm now for 13 years, having previously studied viticulture and winemaking in France. Damien grew up in the wine-making region of Chinon and first started working in wineries from the age of 16.
The owners of one of the estate’s he worked for in France were close friends of the Bourgeois family and that ultimately paved the way to making wine at Clos Henri.
The estate’s flagship wine is the Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc, drawing on a terroir of greywacke river stone and described as a wine of great complexity and elegance.
Intense flavours that reflect the property’s diverse terroir are a hallmark of all the wines from this exceptional vineyard.
Clos Henri has been fully certified organic since the 2013 harvest and there is a commitment to minimise waste through composting.
Locally sourced mussel shells from the Marlborough Sounds are spread throughout the vines to provide a valuable source of calcium for the soil.
“If you want to make wine that expresses the soil, not just fruitiness, then you also have to respect the land and look after it.”
Meanwhile, the vineyard’s distinctive cellar door in a renovated chapel opens again this October after a revamp to showcase all that is unique and special about this beautiful property.
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