Pyramid Valley Growers Collection Wines
Mike and Claudia Weersing of Pyramid Valley are possibly the most sensitive winegrowers in New Zealand. Following a background of immersing themselves in winemaking and wine culture around the world, they established their vineyard, farm and home in the Waikari Valley, North Canterbury in 2000 to make Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on clay-limestone soils. Their philosophy of respect for all things in the environment has led them to allow the fruit to grow and wine to be made as naturally as, and with the least intervention possible, encouraging the wines to find their innate balance and equilibrium. The adoption of biodynamics has been part of this approach.
The wines they have made have received critical acclaim by many influential commentators. Yet, incredibly, the wines have also proven divisive, due in part to their difference to the mainstream. Many of the wines are indeed at the cutting edge of style and have characteristics which sit on the precipice of faultiness, but that is where great complexity can lie. There’s no arguing that the Weersings have the most positive and noble intentions, but the results can make those who are more conventional and conservative quite nervous. Risk taking and the successful management of it often requires lateral thinking, and Pyramid Valley seems to have achieved it with a degree of brilliance.
Pyramid Valley has taken another step in their growth and consolidation, with the arrival of Caine and Brittany Thompson from Hawke’s Bay. Caine has a broad industry experience and is well-known for his commitment to organics and biodynamics, and his role as general manager of the Demeter certified operation is perfect. His wife Brittany, leaving Elephant Hill, has taken up the role of assistant winemaker to Mike Weersing. Pyramid Valley is entering a new phase of its life. www.pyramidvalley.co.nz
The ‘Growers Collection’
The ‘Growers Collection’ range consists of wine made from outside of the home vineyard. One of the initial aims was to explore the making and terroir expression of Pinot Noir wines from vineyard sites of like-minded friends. The ‘Eaton’ and ‘Calvert’ wines are the result. This has grown to include different varieties from sites in diverse growing regions. The Weersings particularly enjoy working with varieties that seem neglected, and guiding them to styles that offer an alternative to the norm. Older vines and committed grapegrowers are given recognition with these wines. Here, I review a Pinot Blanc from the ‘Kerner’ vineyard in Marlborough a Chenin Blanc from the ‘Moteo Ridge’ vineyard in Hawke’s Bay, a Pinot Noir from the ‘Calvert’ site in Central Otago, and a Cabernet Franc from the ‘Howell’ vineyard in Hawke’s Bay.
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Pyramid Valley ‘Growers Collection’ ‘Moteo Ridge Vineyard’ Hawke’s Bay Chenin Blanc 2013Chenin Blanc from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 07-Aug-2014Bright straw-yellow colour with slight golden hues at heart, pale on rim. The nose is elegant with intense aromas of white stonefruits and subtly rich honeysuckle notes, revealing delicate savoury and flinty detail and a waxiness. The aromatics grow in depth showing fresh cut and youthful floral elements. Off-dry to taste, clear and tightly held flavours of white and yellow stonefruits form a softly concentrated core. This has purity and finesse with a delicate sweetness and richness. The palate follows a fine, firm line with balanced and poised acidity providing crispness and cut to the mouthfeel. Floral, honey and honeysuckle flavours emerge and are carried to a long, lingering finish with a dry-textured line. This is an elegant, tightly held, subtly rich, off-dry Chenin Blanc with stonefruit and honied flavours. Serve with seafood and fine Asian cuisine over the next 5-6+ years. Fruit from John Patrick’s ‘Moteo Ridge’ site, WBP and indigenous yeast fermented over 11 months in seasoned 500L puncheons to 14.0% alc. and 13 g/L RS. 380 cases made. 18.5+/20 Aug 2014 RRP $30.00
Pyramid Valley ‘Growers Collection’ ‘Kerner Estate Vineyard’ Marlborough Pinot Blanc 2012Pinot Blanc from New Zealand - MarlboroughReview Date : 07-Aug-2014Bright, moderately deep, light golden-yellow colour, lighter on rim. The bouquet is full and deep with softly concentrated aromas of savoury yellow stonefruits and tropical fruits, unfolding layers of exotic florals, and complex flint and nutty notes from full solids fermentation and lees contact. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, full and rich, lush and complex flavours of ripe, savoury yellow stonefruits and tropical fruits are lifted by florals, and complexed by flinty and yeasty elements. Soft acidity enhances the fruit sweetness and succulence, as well as providing good liveliness and energy. The wine follows a soft and very fine line leading to a lingering, dry finish. This is a full and opulently fruited, dry Pinot Blanc with funky, savoury flavours. Match with poultry, pork and Middle Eastern fare over the next 3-4 years. Fruit from the ‘Kerner’ vineyard on Fareham Lane, Waihopi, hand-picked, WBP, indigenous yeast fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged in seasoned French oak, 450-500 L puncheons. 260 cases made. 18.5/20 Aug 2014 RRP $29.00
Pyramid Valley ‘Growers Collection’ Calvert Vineyard’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010Pinot Noir from New Zealand - OtagoReview Date : 07-Aug-2014Dark, deep ruby-red colour with black hues at heart and lighter garnet on the rim. The bouquet is full and voluminous with harmoniously entwined aromas of ripe red berry fruits, and complexing savoury stalk and dried herb whole cluster notes. Layers of earth, red florals and game unfold adding to the detail and interest. A little volatile lift enhances the florals. Medium-full bodied and elegantly expressed, sweet and luscious, savoury red berry fruit flavours are integrated with whole bunch dried herb and stalky elements. The fruit is supported by very fine-grained tannins at the core, and the mouthfeel is refined and supple, and enlivened by lacy acidity. The wine has excellent linearity, the flavours softly blossoming and carrying through to a long, and sustained, ethereal finish. This is an elegant and savoury Pinot Noir with sweet red fruits and whole cluster dried herb complexities, flowing smoothly with length. Serve with wild duck, pork and game meat over the next 5-6 years. Biodynamically grown fruit from the ’Calvert’ vineyard, Bannockburn, fermented with 25% whole clusters to 14.0% alc, the wine spending 27 days on skins and aged in seasoned French oak, predominantly barriques. 19.0-/20 Aug 2014 RRP $58.00
Pyramid Valley ‘Growers Collection’ ‘Howell Family Vineyard’ Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Franc 2011Cabernet Franc from New Zealand - Hawke's BayReview Date : 07-Aug-2014Fruit from Chis Howell’s vineyard from the Bridge Pa Triangle, hand-picked, 80% destemmed, given a cold soak and indigenous yeast fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine on skins 27 days and aged 15 months in seasoned French oak, predominantly 350 L hogsheads. Full, deep, black-red colour with slight garnet hues on rim. This has a full and dense bouquet with concentrated aromas of black berried fruits infused with earth and packed with iron and minerals. The nose is robust, unfolding dark herbs, chocolate and floral elements with aeration. Full-bodied, softly rich, juicy and fulsome fruit flavours of savoury black berry fruits intermingle with iron, earth, minerals and dark herbs. The wine is mouthfilling and robust with grainy, tannic structure and brisk, bright acidity enlivening the mouthfeel and fruitiness. This flows with energy, carrying through to a strong flavoured and textured, near rustic finish. This is a full, robust and flavoursome Cabernet Franc with savoury black fruits, earth and mineral flavours and a lively mouthfeel. Serve with slow-cooked game meats and semi-hard cheeses over the next 6-7+ years. 17.5+/20 Aug 2014 RRP $58.00