Imagine a passionate man in Switzerland, leaving his family land where they have made wine for 500 years. Leaving a Michelin starred restaurant that he co owned with his wife. Imagine growing obscure (for New Zealand) grape varietals like Zweigelt, Arneis, and Montelpulciano in the land of water downed Sauvignon Blanc. Imagine that the wine is really, really, really good. Because it is. Hans Herzog, who has unabashedly self titled his small parcel of daring, is crazy enough to be great. He searched for the ideal postage stamp of land in the relative flatness that is the Marlborough plain. Herzog tucked his 11.5 hectares next to the river that moderates the freezes and the heat waves that can plague the region. Since his permanent move to New Zealand in 1996 he is continually experimenting with new varietals and is committed to organic practices. Hans is the driving force for the wine, being both viticulturist and wine maker. He uses cork unapologetically, eschewing the standard Australasian screw cap. The estate is small and run like a swiss watch, this could be because he imports most if not all of his workers from him home country. The result is decidedly old world and decidedly awesome.
With total production hovering around 2.5 thousand cases a year it may be hard to find. The estate is small and they self profess to "homicidal green harvests" which keep yields extremely low. All fruit is 100% estate and everything is done on site, most of the times, by Hans himself. If you do get your hands on a bottle: Buy it, drink it and save a glass for me. My favorites were all over the board but if I had to choose, they are as follows.
2013 Arneis, Marlborough, New Zealand
Peppery peach and general ripe stone fruit. Smokey mineral qualities with a finish that is leaner then expected.
2011 Viognier, Marlborough, New Zealand
Perfumed nose with notes of oily popcorn skins, lychee, and peach juice. The finish is structured with hazelnut and charcoal notes.
2004 "Spirit of Marlborough" (Cabernet/Merlot blend), Marlborough, New Zealand
Rich palate of seedy black fruits and cocoa, the wine is starting to show secondary characteristics. It has a nice balance of savory and salty with notes of iron and silky tannins.
2011 Montelpulciano, Marlborough, New Zealand
Aromas of blackberry hard candy and flavors of cassis, chocolate and a tinge of "minty"ness. It has a meaty texture but doesn't lay to heavy on the palate.
For more information on where to find your special bottle or to arrange a visit, check out Hans Herzog winery at http://www.herzog.co.nz/