Size & Type
Showing much more freshness & red fruit profile than the atypical 2021, sits fine and velvety on the tannin profile. Long and even. Plush and refreshing. Gently spiced. Elegant flavourful. Harmonious and integrated. Layered complexity with eathiness and a well balanced stalk use adding intrigue. A lovely perfume dancing over the top.
The sources here are four vineyards which include the most northerly vineyard on the Omihi saddle, a site called Top Block located on the ‘Golden Mile’, Three Sisters and the Porters vineyard. The fruit was hand-picked and fermented naturally in open-top fermenters with 25% whole bunches. It was then aged in 20% new French barrels for 12 months before being settled in tank and aging on fine lees for a further six months.
The wine game is full of tragics who will sacrifice everything in the search for greatness. Like any field acquiring expertise, and learning on the job is critical.
There simply aren’t enough hours in the day or enough $ to quickly build the knowledge and use it wisely. Patience is required!
Add to that the vagueries of agriculture with a topsy-turvy climate and it can take decades to get anywhere close to the vision you started with.
Projects to grow and make exceptional wine often take 3 generations to come to fruition, and achieve recognition.
Pyramid Valley based in North Canterbury on NZ’s South Island is such a project.
Founders Mike and Claudia Weersing were bitten by the bug and kicked off with a biodynamic, high-density vineyards approach. Their minute scale and exceptional dedication to their soils and vines led to some incredible wines being produced.
The sale to Steve Smith MW and partner Brian Sheth, shortly before Mike’s passing, with the addition of Huw Kinch, GM Winemaker, and Nick Paulin, Viticulturist has seen a new generation come to play at Pyramid Valley. One that has already cut its teeth across projects including Craggy Range, Escarpment, Felton Road, and beyond. Smith’s blueprint from the outset has been to honour the Weersing’s vision and to build on the authenticity and integrity of the vineyard’s origins.
The timing couldn’t be better. Why? The pointy end of the industry now has broader awareness and comfort with the varying disciplines of winemaking and viticulture.
Although their website eludes to a Biodynamic line, discussions with Huw and further digging give me the impression the approach is one of biological farming taking the best parts of many disciplines using an evidence-based approach AKA science to inform decisions.
Pyramid Valley now releases three collections annually. The emblematic, 100% estate Botanical Collection will be released on allocation. For more general release is their Pastures Collection, which sees Pyramid Valley working with a roster of exceptional growers in North Canterbury and Central Otago. This collection is the Pyramid Valley’s negociant arm—a vital part of this project, with the aim to create a set of wines that share the same sense of somewhereness as the wines from the home vineyard. Finally, the Colours Collection comprises the Sauvignon+, Orange and Rosé.
We focus on the Top 2 where the real interest comes to play: The Botanicals & The Pastures.
Since joining the team in the winter of 2018, Kinch (who lives on-site with his family) has spent much of his energy expanding the original blocks, which now extend to 6.8 hectares (still not a lot of vines). Following Mike Weersing’s original vineyard map—which he never got to complete—the new plantings are all on Pyramid Valley’s mid-slope. To add clonal complexity, the new Chardonnay cuttings have included some clone 845 (in addition to the existing Mendoza and 95). The vines are spaced at a slightly lower density of 8,000 vines per hectare to allow more cover cropping and increased soil biodiversity. Kinch is particularly excited about expanding the existing, tiny 0.4-hectare Lion’s Tooth Block.
In 2018 a new vineyard was purchased, the Manata Estate in Lowburn, Central Otago. The vineyard has produced exceptional Pinot Noir since 2002 and is home to our Central Otago Pinot Noir.
The Central Otago vineyard in particular insanely low rainfall and work with compost to improve soil and increase water holding capacity has been key to achieving cross-vintage consistency.
We embrace the concept of making wine hand in hand with nature using modern science, technology and natural wisdom to create some of the world’s most revered cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. While we take our cues from older philosophies, it is marrying these cues with innovation, inquisitive minds, modern technology and science that sets us apart.
Pyramid Valley founders, Mike and Claudia Weersing ran things a little fast and loose around the winery with a natural / biodynamic approach that occasionally resulted in some pretty wild vino. On meeting Huw, my first line of questioning was to understand the current approach in the winery. Thankfully all the crazy stuff is out and grape first thoughtful winemaking is in.
A new winery has been built purely focused on best practice making over glitz.
The extreme sites often require picking late to lower naturally high acids or working hard, particularly with the Central Otago Pinots to tame bold fruit profiles.
Patience is often one of the tools employed. The mid and higher-end whites, including the Weaver Sauvignon Blanc and reds seeing two winters of maturation pre-bottling (16-18 months). It’s a practice that I’ve employed, it’s amazing how much difference that extra 4-6 months makes to the development of the wine and particularly with the whites building mid-palate weight.
Oak handling, whole bunch use and beyond is judicious and subtle.
My preferences lies with the North Canterbury wines both white and red with their palpable energy and the Central Otago Pinots from cooler years.
The wines are beautiful expressions full of energy.
The Chardonnays pure with tension, balanced, flavourful and layered. There are many new world whites that finish broad, clumsy and angular like you’ve run into a brick wall. Not so here, the flow and shape are linear with impressive mid-palate depth and length across both the Chardonnay and Weaver Sauvignon Blanc.
The Weaver Suavignon Blanc is a serious wine, showing the potential of Sauvignon Blanc shifting to a Bordeaux style with restrained methoxypyrazines and a build in layering and texture.
The North Canterbury Pinots are typically fresh, red fruited and finely textured, full of personality.
The Central Otago Pinots can be big and bold and need to be tamed. Cooler years definitely go a long way towards achieving balance here. Delicious when they are on song reminding of some of the Pinots from the Côte du Beaune.
Pyramid Valley is based in North Canterbury wine region which spans nearly 200km of the South Island’s eastern coastline, with the magnificent Alps to the west and the sweeping Pacific Ocean to the east. They owned the Manata vineyard Central Otago and have long term relationships with growers in North Canterbury and Marlborough. This wine comes from North Canterbury.
"There’s delicious perfume with some sappy notes and pure red fruit to intensity kick things off, alongside touches of bramble, florals and a lick of blue fruit. The fine boned structure screams cool climate with powdery tannins and delicate oak supporting a palate that suggests ripe, intensely-flavoured grapes picked at the perfect time, with good acidity. The finish possesses real class and impressive purity. It’s tighter and more coiled than the Central Otago Pinot—if you can’t give it time to unwind, a good decant will work wonders."
Where in the world does the magic happen?
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Pyramid Valley Road, Waikari, New Zealand