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“The Giesens are truly focused on quality, both from a vineyard and a business perspective,” says Pacific Highway’s Giordano. He explains that the Giesens own half of Pacific Highway and that they control the destiny of their wines through their distribution partnerships. “They have a strong belief in integrity,” Giordano says, “and when they put their name on a label, it represents the highest level of quality.”
The Giesen Wines Story
When the Giesen brothers started out, they had only 75 hectares of vines; today they have more than 1,500. On starting their operations, the Giesens challenged their winemaking team to push boundaries and focus on cultivating dozens of small batch wines—by experimenting with commercial and native yeasts, exploring a variety of vineyard blocks, and employing a mix of viticultural and winemaking techniques. The results during this creative period formed the backbone of Giesen’s premium winemaking.
Their first trial wine was released in 2010. It was a super-premium traditionally fermented Sauvignon Blanc called The August 1888; it paid homage to the Giesen brothers’ grandfather—August Giesen—who was a sommelier and restaurateur. It sold out within months. Since then, Giesen’s wines have continued to receive international acclaim and accolades.
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These days, the Giesens are the leading buyers in New Zealand of German 1,000-liter Fuder barrels, which provide optimal conditions for lees aging. Approximately 20 percent of Giesen’s vineyards are organically farmed and certified—or in transition. This includes the prized organic Clayvin vineyard, Marlborough’s first significant hillside cru, which, after holding a long-term lease, the Giesens purchased in 2015. It’s a significant addition to Giesen’s vineyard holdings and bolsters its winemaking innovation and premium-wine portfolio.
A Selection of Giesen Wines
The microsites across Giesen’s vineyards yield fruit with diverse flavor profiles. The Estate Series showcases distinctive regional varieties, while The Brothers wines are rich, elegant, and pure, revealing the best of every vintage. The Single Vineyard Selections embody the unique terroir where they’re cultivated.
- The Estate Series – Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Estate Riesling, Estate Pinot Gris, Estate Chardonnay, Estate Pinot Noir, Estate Merlot
- The Brothers Range – The August 1888 Sauvignon Blanc, The Brothers Sauvignon Blanc, The Brothers Gewürztraminer, The Brothers Pinot Noir, The Brothers Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
- The Single Vineyard Selections – Single Vineyard The Fuder Dillons Point Sauvignon Blanc, Single Vineyard The Fuder Matthews Lane Sauvignon Blanc, Single Vineyard The Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay, Single Vineyard Clayvin Pinot Noir, Single Vineyard Brookby Road Pinot Noir, Single Vineyard Ridge Block Pinot Noir, Single Vineyard Waihopai Pinot Noir
Selling Giesen by the Glass
Giesen’s signature Estate single-varietal Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines from the 2017 and 2016 vintages, respectively, are two excellent candidates for by-the-glass menus, says Giordano. Most BTG lists, he points out, are likely to have at least one Sauvignon Blanc (since the variety is so popular), and the Giesen Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017 really can’t be beat. It’s an aromatically expressive wine with concentrated flavors of freshly cut herbs, luscious tropical and citrus fruit, and subtle notes of black currant leaf. The regional typicity of the Wairau Valley is also demonstrated in the brightness of its fruit and its tight, crisp acidity. “For its price point,” says Giordano, “it offers a depth and composition that punches above its weight.”
Pinot Noir on a BTG list is a different proposition. As Giordano points out, most BTG Pinots will be from France, California, or Oregon. But, he says, for a consumer willing to take a journey and explore what New Zealand Pinot Noir has to offer, the Giesen Estate Pinot Noir 2016 will be eye-opening. This vibrant wine provides juicy notes of red cherry, blackberry, and bramble, along with hints of earth and spice. “It’s also floral,” says Giordano, “with a lush mouthfeel and a finish that hangs on.”
Dedicated to introducing the world’s wine lovers to distinctive bottles from family-owned brands around the globe, Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits is a specialized import, sales, and marketing agency that seeks to build meaningful relationships with distributors and on- and off-premise buyers.