Takaki Okada celebrated 10 years of Folium Wines this year with a retrospective tasting in Wellington, which store manager Matt King and yours truly attended to taste and learn more. It was a great chance to look at the wines from a thoughtful winemaker whose wish is to make wine that lasts, for up to a decade and beyond. It was also a spectacular chance to enjoy the view of Wellington Harbour on a beautiful sunny day from the penthouse floor of Atlas restaurant in Wellington’s relatively quiet CBD.
Takaki purchased his Marlborough vineyard in 2011 as an established site which had originally been planted in 2006 but had been irrigated from the start; something he quickly changed. “I was the one to turn off the water and the vines got a bit of a shock to begin with,” he says, with a bit of a laugh, remembering back to the early days of making Folium wines.
With just six hectares of Marlborough’s approximately 25,000 hectare total of vines, he says he knew there was a need to do things differently. "The only way to survive is to produce something different, so we dry farm our vineyard and rely totally on the rain.”
His six hectares is planted in an approximately equal split of 50/50 Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir but his wine production is about two thirds Sauvignon Blanc and one third Pinot Noir, due to crop levels. His crop levels are about two thirds the Marlborough average but he remains humbly adamant that there is no scientific evidence that lower crop levels equate to better quality wines. But he does think that lower crop levels result in more concentrated flavours in his wines. He also hopes to avoid herbaceous green flavours in the wines he makes. On the environmental front, Takaki does not describe himself as an environmental warrior but says it is heartening to know he is doing something to be more environmentally friendly when it comes to both organic wine production and avoiding the over use of water. Takaki grew up drinking a lot of European wine but says, with a grin, that it wasn't all good. It did trigger his desire to make and work with wine, however. His philosophy is underpinned by the philosophy of wine as an agricultural product rather than as a beverage.
And so to the wines... We have three Folium wines in store now
2019 Folium Estate Sauvignon Blanc
Flinty and fresh, made from vines on stony soil. Amazing match with oysters, seafood and citrus flavours.
2016 Folium Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Vibrant, fresh sand developing on the nose but still youthful. Nearly 12 months on fine lees in stainless steel, typically no oak, occasionally receives 5% old oak. Takaki sees this wine as having 20 years of aging potential.
2017 Folium Estate Pinot Noir
Ten years ago he wanted to make a burgundy in Marlborough but now he knows that his Pinot Noirs are not going to be like that. This is a fruit forward, delicately refreshing expression of Pinot Noir from this country's biggest wine region.