Taking the long view

Avril 2015

Clos is a French term originally used to descrube a walled or enclosed vineyard. Clos Henri in the Wairau doesn't have stonewalls surrounding it, but it is portioned up into parcels of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir very similar to the clos vineyards of France. There is a map of the vineyard in the tasting room that looks exactly like maps of French vineyards, but in this case the little parcels of grapes are not separately owned, thanks to the French inheritance laws, but are there to take advantage of the differing soi! structures within the vineyard.
One of the overriding impressions of the vineyard is that the owners, the Bourgeois family, are very much into giving full expression to the differing terroir within the vineyard. The main faultline bisects the vineyard and there are three distinct soi! types, each producing its own varietal expression in the wines.
I had the pleasure ofbeing shown around the vineyard by its Italian viticulturist, Fabiano Frangi. He is almost the archetypal example of an ltalian man; dark, good looking, eloquent, he speaks four languages and is passionate about his job. When Fabiano greeted a group of eider French women enjoying a tasting at the winery, they visibly swooned and looked like they had been caught in the headlights of a car.
The vineyard is organic and, where possible, follows biodynamic principles-a philosophy that Fabiano embraces. The vines are close planted in the French manner with relatively low yields. 

Unlike other Marlborough vineyards, only two varieties are grown -Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. When I asked Fabiano whether there were any plans te introduce another grape variety, he looked at me as if I was mad. As he explained, in Europe it takes several generations to figure out how to get
the best out of a single variety from a vineyard, therefore te introduce another variety would be a complete nightmare. They obviously take the long view when it cornes to winemaking.
The winery has three labels. The everyday drinking Petit Clos is from younger plantings; pleasant wines without being particularly noteworthy. A higher rung on the quality level is the Bel Echo range. The Bel Echo Sauvignon Blanc is 100 per cent in stainless steel but six months on the lees. It has a Marlborough freshness te it with stone fruit on the palette, but without the gripping acidity which unfortunately afflicts se many Marlborough Sauvignons. The Pinot in this range has been aged in old French barriques se, while still vibrant, has some soft tannins.
The top brand, Clos Henri, really shows this vineyard's winemaking prowess. The Sauvignon has 10 per cent oak aging and eight months on fine lees. I was surprised with this wine. l was expecting a wine with a more French, Sancerre influence but instead this wine is obviously a Marlborough Sauvignon. It has great subtlety and elegance with, what I would imagine te be, good aging potential. The Clos Henri Pinot 2010 is a silky smooth example. Still very much a Marlborough Pinot, it displayed beautiful fruit and was a fan tas tic example of the variety.
Situated in the Wairau Valley, this vineyard is well worth a visit. 

L'abus d'alcool est dangeureux pour la santé, à consommer avec modération
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