Giesen’s CLAYVIN Chardonnay: THE FUDER

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This is something special and really merits its own blog post. I got into the world of wine almost four years ago, through working in Burgundy, lucky enough to taste a lot of GC Chardonnay. I haven’t been in the industry that long, but it is rare that I come across a Chardonnay that in my opinion can really stand up to “The Greats.”

That’s not at all to say I don’t love Chardonnay from elsewhere – it’s one of my absolute favourite varietals. Personally, I’m a huge fan of small, independent producers who create interesting and terroir expressive wine. In particular I adore the Deux Terres from Paulatim (natural Chard from the Ardeche) and A Moment of Silence from BlankBottle (Chardonnay blend with Chenin Blanc and Viognier). These are different wines though – they’re gorgeous expressions of the grape, but they’re wines to be viewed in terms of their own unique styles and terroirs.

When it comes to a real “holy cow” wine – one that can rival a Montrachet, and one that can lie down for many many years, this is one of the first outside of Burgundy that’s really blown my socks off.

Theo, Alex and Marcel Giesen began the winery back in the 80s, after leaving their native Germany. It’s one of the big producers of Sauvignon as we know it today. This isn’t what I’m going to talk about here.

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The Giesen brothers

They have recently begun to make their single vineyard series. I tasted The Fuder Chardonnay in The New Zealand Wine Cellar.

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(BTW – if you haven’t been – go. It has a fantastic selection of NZ wines, in all sorts of styles. Plus its surrounded by all sorts of other fun bars and foodie places in POP Brixton.)

ABOUT THE VINEYARD

It’s labelled a “Clayvin”. This is its vineyard. I like this. I’m all about terroir and earth and soil, and to see them put this on their label makes me happy. It’s  direct, clear message to the consumer that the reason that this wine is so good is because of its soil.

The Clayvin vineyard is a high density, low yielding site that lies on the foothills of the Southern Valleys in Marlborough. Silt loam with clay. The vines are 19 years old, and organically farmed.

“The Fuder” – the range of whites are so-labelled because of a return to Germany by Marcel Giesen to visit a friend’s winery, where he rediscovered the 1000 litre barrels. Originally, they were used in the Mosel – large size reduces surface to wine area – this gives the wines structure, but expresses minimal oak and instead lets the terroir speak.

ABOUT THE WINEMAKING

Hand harvested, whole bunch pressed, settles and transferred to new 1000L Fuder German Oak barrels.

Wild yeast starter creating a warm natural ferment, rested on yeast lees for 11 months prior to racking, wine underwent 100% malolatic fermentation.

I debate with myself sometimes that malo can hide the terroir, however, I feel it’s fantastic here. To have a Chardonnay with such superb terroir, and such superb fruit, the malo turns it into a real gem, and this definitely is that.

Giesen says its ageing potential is four years, but I think it’s going to be a lot more than that.

WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?

Texturally, it’s soft and gentle on the palate, however in terms of fruit it’s really a bit of a rockstar. Big peach and pear aromas with wonderful almond and hazelnut aromas. The oak gives it that lovely nuttiness – but by no means is it harsh. The 1000L barrel creates something special here – a gentle, moreish, fat (but not too fat) Chardonnay in a style that isn’t “in your face”. It’s wonderful.

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