Hans Herzog

Exploring New Zealand's Marlborough region

Therese and Hans Herzog

Herzog is a bit of an outlier in Marlborough. For almost 20 years this winery has been ploughing their own furrow, making small quantities of interesting wine from a diverse range of varieties.


Hans and Therese Herzog come from Switzerland, where Hans was a vigneron working on an estate near Zurich, near the Austrian border, where his family had been winegrowers for 500 years. But Hans had a love for grapes, and worked with the experimental station at Wadenswil. He was frustrated that in Switzerland he could only work with a limited number of grape varieties.

In the early 1980s, Therese's brother visited New Zealand, visiting all the vineyards. It was early days in Marlborough, but he was impressed by the climatic possibilities for wine. He went home and told Hans, who saw this as a place where he could potentially play with all the varieties that he wasn't allowed to grow in Switzerland. So he came to have a look.

In 1994 he ended up buying an old apple orchard on the edge of Rapaura, just next to the Wairau River. The soil was a mixture of clay, sand and gravel, with fantastic drainage and an exceptional warm microclimate owing to the proximity to the river, which also protects the site from frost.

In 1996, Hans went to the nursery, bought nine different varieties, and began developing the vineyard. By Marlborough standards, this is very close planted (5500-6000 plants/hectare). 'Everyone looked at us and said we were stupid,' recalls Theresa. The yields are low, at around 3 tons/hectare, which is much less than the regional average (which for Sauvignon would be 15 tons/hectare). 'This vineyard is a labour of love,' says Hans.

There are 11.5 hectares under vine on a 14 hectare property, and the vines are farmed organically. Most of the whites are fermented in 500 litre puncheons with long cool fermentations and no additions save for small doses of SO2. Since 2005 all the wines have been bottled with DIAM corks.

In 2000 they sold their Swiss vineyard and this is now their focus. A few years ago they had some unpleasant legal issues which meant that they had to change their name from Herzog to Hans Herzog in New Zealand, and simply Hans in export markets such as the USA.

2018 here was a good vintage. With the drainage and low yields, plus open fruit zones, the extra water wasn't as much as a problem in some other parts of the Wairau.


Hans Herzog Pinot Gris 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand
4 days skin contact, 80% fermented in 500 litre puncheons. Sweetly aromatic nose with cherries and almonds. The palate is textural with a creamy edge and a hint of orange peel. Has a lovely juicy character with a bit of grip. Stylish and distinctive. 92/100

Hans Herzog Gruner Veltliner 2014 Marlborough, New Zealand
Spur pruning helps with Gruner Veltliner, reducing the yield by 50% giving smaller bunches with more flavour. This has a few days' skin contact then goes to 500 litre puncheons. Lovely intensity here with pear, white peach and a bit of pepper. Lovely citrus note. Dry with a bit of grip, showing nice presence in the mouth. 92/100

Hans Herzog Viognier 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
This is their flagship white, but farming Viognier is a challenge every year. Complex and powerful with a honeyed, slightly nutty edge and rounded peach and apricot notes. Lovely intensity with good acidity and balance. 93/100

Hans Herzog Mistral 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
60% Viognier, 20% Marsanne, 20% Roussanne. Textured with lovely weight to the pear, white peach and citrus fruit. Fine spiciness with a rich mouthfeel and some notes of nuts and honey. Very gastronomic. 93/100

Hans Herzog Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand
Restrained, textural and a bit nutty with a rounded mouthfeel and fine spiciness. Some citrus and pear fruit, and hints of liquorice and almond. 90/100

Hans Herzog Arneis 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
Stainless steel. Very fresh, bright and lively with crisp citrus fruit. Has lovely focus and purity, and real finesse. I really like this. 93/100

Hans Herzog 'Wild' Gewurztraminer 2017 Marlborough, New Zealand
Skin fermented for 3 weeks, then aged on lees. Total 25 ppm SO2 with 10 ppm free, which is very low. Ripe with beautiful aromatics and floral lychee and pear notes. The palate is textured and fine with powerful notes of Turkish delight, citrus and table grapes. Has texture and also brightness. Dry. 94/100

Hans Herzog Pinot Noir 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
Six different clones. Sweetly fruited with nice texture to the red cherry fruit and plum, and also a bit of creaminess. Nice depth here with fine-grained structure. Hints of undergrowth on the finish. 93/100

Hans Herzog Pinot Noir 'Grand Duc' 2012 Marlborough, New Zealand
Selection of the best wines. Ripe but with a savoury character. Stony and grainy with nice elegance and depth, and a hint of cedar. Really attractive. It's not just about fruit, but also has non-fruit complexity. 94/100

Hans Herzog St Laurent 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
This is 100% new oak. Fresh, vivid and a bit grippy with lovely raspberry fruit and a bit of crunchy tannin. A lovely vivid wine that's deeply coloured – an almost blue/red – and is crunchy and spicy. It swallows the new oak with just a hint of vanilla the only trace, lurking in the background. 92/100

Hans Herzog Zweigelt 2014 Marlborough, New Zealand
Lovely intensity here: dense and gravelly with pure liqueur-like raspberry and cherry fruit. There's a seamless quality to this, with smooth structyre under the amazingly direct sweet fruit. Some raspberry jam here. Truly compelling. 95/100

Hans Herzog Tempranillo 2014 Marlborough, New Zealand
50% new oak. Sweet berry fruits with a vanilla and cream edge to the nose. Ripe, smooth and creamy on the palate with nice fruit and some spiciness. The oak needs time to settle. 90/100

Hans Herzog Nebbiolo 2013 Marlborough, New Zealand
This spends 30 months in puncheons after 20 days on skins. Lovely brightness with a bit of tannic grip and high acidity, with focused cherry and berry fruits and lovely structure. Really pure and fine with real grip. Very focused and pure. 94/100

Hans Herzog Spirit of Marlborough Merlot/Cabernet Franc 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
30% new oak. I was bowled over by the aromatics of this wine: pure and floral with hints of cream and spice. Old world in style, and elegant and refined, and just so smoothly structured. Supple with a fine green hint and well integrated oak. 95/100

Hans Herzog Montepulciano 2014 Marlborough, New Zealand
Focused, vibrant and juicy with nice freshness. Vivid raspberry fruit with some grippy tannins. Has nice acid and structure with crunchy fruit. Delicious. 93/100

Hans Herzog Saperavi 2014 Marlborough, New Zealand
This is the first vintage of this wine: just half a barrel made. It’s a variety with coloured flesh, olive shaped grapes and a highly serrated leaf. Vivid, aromatic raspberry fruit nose with some olive and green notes, and some blackcurrant character. Dense and fresh with nice structure. Grippy with inky blackcurrant and raspberry fruit and hints of roast meat and pepper. Compelling. 94/100



Part 1, Te Whare Ra
Part 2,  Mahi
Part 3, Fromm
Part 4, Saint Clair Pioneer Block wines
Part 5, Spy Valley
Part 6, Two Rivers
Part 7, Zephyr
Part 8, Framingham
Part 9, Clos Henri
Part 10, Brancott, Stoneleigh and Deutz
Part 11, Meeting the Vandals

Part 12, The Growers' Story (video)
Part 13, Novum
Part 14, Folium

Part 15, Villa Maria
Part 16, Corofin
Part 17, Hans Herzog
Part 18, Te Pa
Part 19, Giesen's single vineyard wines

Wines tasted 05/18  
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