You may think you know New Zealand wines but I can assure you that until you have tasted Pyramid Valley, you have no idea. When I first sampled the earliest releases from this left-of-center producer, I was so drawn to the signature, ground-breaking if, at that time, not altogether flawless wines that I vowed to pay them a visit as soon as possible (which, given their location, is easier said than done). There was a spark of “otherness” about the wines that was so unlike anything else in New Zealand, it was difficult to say if proprietors Mike and Claudia Weersing were geniuses or mad or mad geniuses. I’m still kinda thinking there’s an element of the latter going on here but at least my first visit in 2011 and follow-up visit this year have confirmed to me that they are most definitely wine geniuses.
Having searched New Zealand for their ideal plot of land to produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay of the very highest quality, the Weersings were tempted by comradery to plant amongst their friends in Central Otago. But it was the unique, clay-limestone soils and scarp slopes near Waikari in North Canterbury that stole their hearts. In 2000 they planted vines in one of New Zealand’s newest and remotest wine regions…so new and remote it still doesn’t really have a name other than “North Canterbury”. Claudia is the biodynamic green-thumb and Mike is the Burgundian trained winemaker in this small-scale, hands-on operation. Everything in the fields and winery is as natural as natural can be and anyone who has followed the wines over the years will know, from tasting if not knowledge, that Mike has tested the boundaries of no / low sulfur additions and now seems to have a knack for adding just-enough to ensure stability without compromising the couples’ ethics. The results speak for themselves: astonishingly good, terroir-expressive wines that will challenge all your preconceptions.
Pyramid Valley was my most impressive visit this trip to New Zealand and indeed of all my Australia / New Zealand visits this year. I cannot shout enough about the dedication and diligence of Claudia and Mike Weersing, not to mention the special little patches of terroir they’ve carved out of nowhere (honestly), but then I don’t have to rave too much because the results are patently clear for anyone who tastes their most recent releases – the 2012s. Forget that they’re biodynamic and all the trials and tribulations of the past with no / low sulphur wines plus the use of bespoke amphorae, which are made of clay layered with beeswax covered with a stainless steel lid, to make the wines; their lengths and unconventional methods are simply means (however you want to read them) to a worthwhile end. These latest releases are wines of great purity, singularity and complexity and come highly recommended. I can’t wait to keep following these guys”!
Lions Tooth Chardonnay 2012 95+ points
Field of Fire Chardonnay 2012 93+ points
Lions Tooth Chardonnay 2011 96 points
Field of Fire Chardonnay 2011 92+ points
Angel Flower Pinot Noir 2011 95 points
Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2011 92 points
Angel Flower Pinot Noir 2012 94+ points
Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2012 93+ points
Moteo Chenin Blanc 2013 90+ points
Kerner Pinot Blanc 2012 91+ points
Calvert Pinot Noir 2012 90 points
Howell Cabernet Franc 2013 91 points