Bellbird Spring – Textural Waipara Valley Wines
After two decades in the U.K., the Porter family moved back to Christchurch, and purchased part of the former Retallick property on Georges Road in the Waipara Valley in 2002 to form Bellbird Spring. Guy Porter, a winemaking graduate of University of Adelaide, with extensive winery work overseas took charge of the winemaking. The Georges Road site, on gravel and named the ‘Home Block' is 14 ha, of which approximately 5 ha is planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat Ottonell, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir, of diverse clones. Around 1 ha of the four noble Alsace varieties, is set aside to make a unique ‘field blend'. In 2004, Guy and his wife Leigh purchased just over 6 ha at the end of McKenzies Road, this ‘Block 8' with 4.6 ha of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir planted on clay-influenced soils. In both sites, a range of clones of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir was planted.
The first Bellbird Spring wines were made in 2008, the earlier fruit being sold off. The Porter's aim is to make food-friendly wines with textural qualities in the European style, somewhat different to most others. A second tier, ‘The Pruner's Reward' is made in a more fruit-driven, ‘modern' style. The fruit is grown as naturally as possible, the Porters eschewing systemic sprays. Guy Porter visited Wellington at the end of August and we discussed the Bellbird Spring operation. Here are my reviews of most of the current wines. www.bellbirdspring.co.nz
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Bellbird Spring Waipara Dry Pinot Gris 2011Pinot Gris from New Zealand - Canterbury & WaiparaReview Date : 12-Sep-2012The second release of a dry Pinot Gris, this a blend of fruit from the ‘Home' block and ‘Block 8', hand-picked, WBP and barrel-fermented by wild yeasts in old oak to 14.0% alc. and dryness, the wine aged 4-5 months in barrel. Full, light golden-hued yellow with the faintest hint of blush to the colour. The nose is tight and firm with fresh aromas of ripe, savoury yellow stonefruits laced with a little flintiness and a touch of reduction. Dry to taste, deep and complex flavours of ripe stonefruits with hints of spice combine with some oak nuttiness. The palate has good power and depth adding to the mouthfeel, but fresh, lacy acidity provides good cut and balance. The flavours are driven to form a very long, lingering finish with nuances of stonefruits, flint and minerals. This Pinot Gris has an Alsace-like flavour profile with good weight and freshness. Match with Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine over the next 3-4+ years. 17.5+/20 Sep 2012 RRP $32.00