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Frenchmans Hill Estate wine was grown on the ideally positioned steep northern slopes at the base of the Te Whau Peninsula on iconic Waiheke Island. Here the earth is described as quartz kaolinate over greywacke sub-rock which is mineral rich.
As the French say "plus pauvre le sol, plus grand le vin".
The impoverished sandy/gravelly clays of Waiheke are ideal viticultural soils for the expression of truly cellar-worthy 'complex' reds that will evolve favourably over time.
All Frenchmans Hill Estate wines are grown and made by Luc from vineyards that he established in 2006. Perfectly matching grape varieties to various micro sites to achieve what he describes as "unique earth expressions".
In 1821, wanting to avenge previous defeats by Tamaki tribes, the Ngapuhi leader Hongi Hika launched an attack on Waiheke. With 2,000 men and 1,000 muskets, he stormed two Ngati Paoa pa (forti‑ed settlements) adjacent to Frenchmans Hill Estate. According to legend, the battle turned the waters red. Luc is acknowledged by local Tangata Whenua as Kaitiaki, guardian of this sacred site and our famous Blood Creek 8 pays homage to this battle.
Winegrower Luc Desbonnets has over 30 years global experience in wine growing and wine making since his debut in France in 1989.
After completing a business degree, Luc travelled to France to learn his father’s culture and completed another degree in winemaking and viticulture in the Medoc appellation area of Bordeaux. Leaving Bordeaux seven years later, Luc furthered his craft by managing large Eastern European productions in Hungary and Moldova for a further three years.
In developing Frenchmans Hill Estate, Luc steadfastly sticks to the techniques and protocols learnt whilst working in the 'grand cru' appellations of Bordeaux and Burgundy. He believes with the right sites and an uncompromising approach toward yields, vine and soil management, New Zealand matches it with many of the world's greatest wines.
Luc’s vision is for his artisan wines to be enjoyed, collected and shared by whanau and friends alike.
Magnetic land you called to me across the Anzac Bayand as I passed you day to day your luminous warmth glowedAnd as I passed you day to day a seed within me sewedOnce my leathered fingers brokeand plugged your sacred ancient earthA spear of light passed through my heartAnd here my senses woke
I heard the wailing karakia callWhilst to me ancestors spokeMy fingers foraged deeper still to rivers far beneathpierced salty veins of historyblends of bloody battles pastInto these my body fell and melded to these bloodsThat wailing cry now distantlyIn whispered sighing floods
There I saw great bravery the pride of iwi pastThere I saw cold savagery and bloodied waters vastI tumbled through 8 coarsing veins with each a beating heartTe Arawa, Ngati Poaoa,Nga Puhi with the musket gunand there came my epiphany8 bloods becoming oneSentinel spirits stand guard here nowfor they those battles won
PO Box 769OnetangiWaiheke Island 1081
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