Giesen | Tasting Review | May 2019

Since establishing here in Canterbury in 1983 the Giesen Brothers have put a lot of effort (and money) into establishing a premium brand. The move to Marlborough and focusing on Sauvignon Blanc in the 1990’s was a very strategic move that established their brand into worldwide markets. Today it is much more than being about Sauvignon Blanc – whilst Sauvignon Blanc may provide the volume of their production, it is with their single estate wines that they really showcase their passion for wine.

Focusing on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, tonight we had winemaker Nikolai St George to take us through the Brothers and Single Vineyard wines. Nik is an incredibly knowledgeable and passionate winemaker – he has been awarded New Zealand Winemaker of the Year 3 times including this year. Giesens are obviously a winery that are prepared to extend the boundaries, developing new techniques; fine tuning in the quest for the best possible wines.

Giesen The Brothers Chardonnay 2018

A new vintage release of this very popular label. The fruit for this is sourced from various growers as well as Giesens own vineyards, including the Clayvin. 2018 was quite a warm vintage and this shows in the wine. This is what I call a ‘Golden Chardonnay’. It glistens and gleams in the glass and offers plenty of yellow fruit flavours backed by a lovely vanillin spice character and a seam of smoky savouriness. Texturally it is soft and delicious.

Giesen Clayvin Chardonnay 2015

The Clayvin vineyard is considered a Marlborough treasure. Since its establishment it has stood out for its unique characters and has seen some of Marlborough’s most iconic wines produced there. After leasing the vineyard for a couple of years the Giesens were able to purchase this. As it is such a special site, the Giesens have enabled some other producers to source fruit from it – Fromm and Te Whare Ra. The organic vineyard is a mix of different clones and rootstocks all densely planted and this as much as the site gives the wines so much character. Wild fermented using a culture started in the vineyard using grapes, leaves and flowers. The wine was fermented in large German oak fuders. This is a powerful Chardonnay with plenty of smokiness, pithy fruit, richness and amazing length.  Trophy for Champion Chardonnay Organic Wine Awards 2019.

Giesen The Brothers Pinot Noir 2017

Brand new release from 3 vineyards – Clayvin, Ridge Block but mainly from a grower on the Southern slopes near Taylors Pass. Hand harvested, hand sorted fruit. Nik talked about the style of Pinot Noir he is striving for – ‘clarity with purity of style’ and that is very evident in this. Quite lifted floral notes with bright red fruit flavours with a hint of spiciness.

Giesen Waihopai Pinot Noir 2014

This vineyard is in the Waihopai Valley (near Spy Valley). Quite an earthy savoury wine with gamey mushroom notes and silken richness.

Giesen Ridge Block Pinot Noir 2014

On the hills behind the airport, this is a fully organic vineyard. Last Christmas we gave this our stamp of approval as our Pinot Noir of the Year.
The previous vintage, 2013, was awarded Champion Pinot Noir at the highly regarded International Wine and Spirit Competition in London. As I wrote last year – “There is something ‘complete’ about the wine. I am impressed by the depth of flavour; the pure drinking pleasure; this has the X-factor. If you want an exceptional Pinot Noir experience, this wine is a great place to start.”  It was tasting very well again tonight with more ‘lifted’ aromatics than the Waihopai.

Giesen Clayvin Pinot Noir 2014

Like the Chardonnay, this is quite a mix of different clones – 10 clones on various rootstocks. The wine was made from over 30 different ferments before blending. An elegant, yet powerful wine. This has ‘pedigree’ all over it.

Giesen Clayvin Syrah 2016

This is just such an enigmatic wine – Syrah from Marlborough just shouldn’t be this good! It shows when a very good vintage and exceptional vineyard come together, then grape varieties that are not normally suited to the general region can really excel. This is dark, ripely fruited and sensual. Yum!

Giesen Brothers Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2014 375ml

The vineyard this comes from is beside a stream resulting in damp morning air – like the vineyards of Sauternes, perfect for dessert style wines. Shrivelled, raised fruit was foot trodden over a period of 4 days to get around just around 200 kgs of juice from each ton of fruit and then very slowly feremtned to retain 220 gms rs.  The fruit salad of sweetness is well balanced by acidtiy to remain fresh in the mouth. A Trophy Winner at the Six-nations wine awards and included in New Zealand’s Fine Wines list 2019.