Folium: interesting dry-grown wines from New Zealand's Marlborough region

folium pinot noir

Takaki Okada came to New Zealand’s Marlborough region in 2003, and began working with Clos Henri. In 2010, he bought an 8.5 hectare vineyard that had been established by Fromm in the Brancott Valley. He began making his own wines.

Marlborough is quite dry (growing season averages around 340 ml of rain, with 640 ml the long term average for the full year) , and irrigation is normal. But Takaki did something brave: believing that the soils in this part of Marlborough have good water-holding capacity, he switched off the irrigation in 2011. Since then, he has dry-grown all his vines, except for the young ones, and also reserving the right to water in very dry seasons. For example, he did 8 h or irrigation in 2016, which had a very dry start to the year.

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The picture above shows the difference between the vines at harvest time in 2011 (first year of dry growing) and in 2016 (the sixth year). The vineyard looks completely different. Growing season rainfall was 358 ml in 2011 and 256 ml in 2016 (plus the tiny bit of irrigation earlier in the season).

‘The Sauvignon Blanc is from riverbed Soil,’ says Takaki. ‘There is a small creek which dries up in the summer time, which is located at the bottom terrace of our vineyard. The Reserve Sauvignon Blanc is from clay-based soil which is located on the top terrace.’

Both blocks have not been receiving irrigation since 2011. ‘We have tested Leaf water potential just before the harvest this year,’ he explains. ‘Vines on the clay area suffer from water stress, and is not doing photosynthesis anymore. However, the vines on the stony soil are still active. I believe these vines are now reaching to the water table.’ He also points out that the vineyard has a high density of 4200 vines/ha, and he controls yields so as not to exceed 60 hl/ha, which is about 2.2kg of fruit per plant. ‘By having these conditions we could manage to operate dry farming.’

These are really interesting wines, and show that Marlborough isn’t just a one-trick pony as a wine region.

Folium Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
14% alcohol. Concentrated and dense with lovely textured quince and citrus fruit. There’s some grassy greenness in the background, but this is a ripe, concentrated style with richness and texture. Very bold and intense. Mineral, pure and linear, showing real finesse and purity. 92/100

Folium Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
13.5% alcohol, sealed with DIAM. Smoky, spicy, mineral edge to the citrus and pear fruit nose. Intense, concentrated, mineral and textural with ripe citrus and pear fruit. There’s a lovely lemony spiciness here and good acidity, with a hint of tangerine. 93/100

Here’s a video of me tasting the Pinot Reserve 2013:

 

Folium Pinot Noir Reserve 2013 Marlborough, New Zealand
Cork-sealed. Really elegant stuff with a brooding black cherry nose and hints of spice and herbs. This is beautifully floral and opens out with time in the glass. The palate is elegant with black cherries, plums and fine grained structure. There’s a subtle hint of meatiness here. Really expressive with lots of potential for future development. 94/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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