Explore the Wairau Valley in 3D - click on the link below and explore the valley and Giesen's holdings in Marlborough's premium wine sub-region.
Clayvin Vineyard Southern Valleys
Clayvin vineyard is the cornerstone of our premium wine programme. It was Marlborough's first significant hillside vineyard. High density organic vineyard on clay soil with 24 year old vines, rewards with fruit that has great concentration, structure and tannin overlaid with minerality. Planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
On the north facing slopes of the Southern Valleys, Clayvin vineyard was planted in 1991 primarily with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and with a few parcels of Syrah. In the tradition of a French vineyard, it is densely planted with multiple clones on a wide range of rootstocks dotted across the hillside. This high density means the vineyard produces ‘one bottle of Clayvin wine per vine’.
Clay depth and composition varies across the vineyard, allowing different varieties to be grown and giving blocks of the same variety different flavour profiles.
According to winemaker and co-owner of Giesen Wines, Marcel Giesen, ultra-premium wines should be a reflection of the place where they are grown. He says Clayvin’s location, soil, high density planting, differing root stock and clones are harnessed with meticulous organic vineyard management, which creates wines with a sense of place.
These 24 year old vines grown organically on clay soil reward with fruit that has structure and tannin overlaid with minerality.
The Clayvin soils, coupled with high density planting means the vines are low yielding, resulting in wines of great concentration and richness. Traditional vines are usually a metre off the ground and stand around waist height – the vines at Clayvin are 500mm and just knee height.
Traditional vineyards grow approximately 2,000 vines per hectare where Clayvin farms a whopping 5,300 per hectare, 2.5 times more than the norm. This high density planting means the vines put their energy into survival rather than vegetative growth. What is more, they have to push their roots down through the soil for nutrients, which in turn controls vigour with more of the vine’s energy going into fruiting rather than leaf growth. When the roots hit the clay they are able to access and unlock its rich store of iron and magnesium that is reflected in the great structure of the final wine.
Clayvin Vineyard is certified organic by BioGro New Zealand. We believe organics is about improving our soil structure and helping the soil to hold onto water and nutrients. If the land is continually replenished, the soil will be healthy, so will the plants and the fruit. The Giesen team do all they can to minimise impact on the land around them and the crops they nurture from utilising custom built machinery, the Geier Crawler, on both our Clayvin and Ridge Block vineyards. The Geier ensures minimal impact on the earth. It weighs 1.1 tonne (versus 2.5 tonne of a standard four wheel tractor) and has a downward pressure less than 60kg as all the weight is spread across the tracks of the machine. Not only that, the Geier helps with undervine weeding and cultivation (prepares the soil for hand weeding which we do once a year), mulching, trimming, spraying, mowing, tilling and deep ripping.
Marlborough is a cool climate region therefore Syrah has been planted in the warmest and driest part of the vineyard at the very top of the hill. Giesen Syrah receives focused attention to detail and requires careful management throughout the season to ensure its competition against warmer climate Syrahs.
World renowned vineyard ‘Clayvin’ has historically set the standard for premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay production from Marlborough.