May 5th 2015
PYRAMID VALLEY LION’S TOOTH CHARDONNAY 2012
This is a more brash, more bold and more confident wine on the nose, showing a spiced lemon custard nose gently nutty fruit aromas. There’s a chalky edge too, some distinct stony notes, and this is very dynamic, moving in the glass and displaying melon and light fresh apple notes, too. The palate has assertive tight fruit on the palate, and comes across as a very strong wine with tension and depth. Really succulent and composed, long and energetic. Drink now.
PYRAMID VALLEY EARTH SMOKE PINOT NOIR 2012
All the fragrance is here with rose petals and dried, lightly toasted spices, but the fruit is heartier, deeper and has more of a presence on the nose than the Angel Flower from 2012. Here there’s duck skin, savory meaty notes and a bold plum and cherry core. The palate has entrancingly supple, smooth and beautifully fleshy fruit; soft, ripe red grapefruit notes; wild red cherries and crunchy, lithe textural appeal. Tannins read fine and fully formed, extending the whole depth and width of the wine. Really balanced, resolved and innately uplifting pinot noir. Drink now.
PYRAMID VALLEY FIELD OF FIRE CHARDONNAY 2012
There’s a vinous, savory, biscuity nose here with bright, fresh, yellow chalk and yellow wild flowers. This really brightens with air and shows some gently nutty notes, too. The palate has assertive acidity, weight, power and depth, lemon pith, restrained green peaches and melon notes. This is really composed, even, complete and very, very powerful. Lemon curd finish. Full of energy. Drink now.
PYRAMID VALLEY ANGEL FLOWER PINOT NOIR 2012
With a very complex, alluring and fragrant nose here, this has an amazing ethereal and fragrant character that delivers cherry and strawberry notes. The dried rose petals and dried, light toasted spices are stunning and captivatingly complex. The palate has brilliant focus and intensity as well as a shell-like tannin frame. It’s assertive, bright and juicy with some real impact on the finish, but it’s not heavy. Powerful yet precise. Drink now.
The Wine Advocates Latest Reviews of Pyramid Valley Vineyards
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
Lisa Perrotti-Brown – visit to property in October 2014: “Finally, Waikari or North Canterbury as it is officially known. 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
Lions Tooth Chardonnay 2011 96 points
Field of Fire Chardonnay 2012 93+ 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 2012 91+ points
The Wine Front NZ – Mike Bennie and Gary Walsh
19th of December 2014
96 points – Home Collection – Angel Flower Pinot Noir 2011
What evocative names they are! Luckily, the wines live up to them. Rose and mint perfume, spice, red cherry and red fruit but pared back, great expression. Silky and fine in the mouth, super fine grained tannin, bell clear acidity, meaty flavours in the mix. Kind of hard to pick out individual flavours, more comes as a sort of ‘entity’. Delicious to drink. So cool and interesting.
96 points – Home Collection – Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2011
Subsequent to this blind tasting, I took a walk round the Pyramid Valley site. Earth Smoke and Angel Flower – well, fair to say, it’s a clear example of terroir in action. Indian spices – turmeric, cardamom – earthy, dark red fruit, wisp of smokiness. Light but fresh and complex in the mouth with ‘mineral water’ clarity to the acidity, some meaty undergrowth savouries, and the gentle slate like tannin is a delight to touch. Finish is long, clean and laced with ‘minerality’ and sheets of slaty tannin. Great. Proof reading this note prior to publishing, I see I’ve repeated myself, but the emphasis is correct.
91 points – Growers Collection – Howell Cabernet Franc 2012
Dark raspberry, cocoa, spice. Spritz in the mouth, perky raspberry, bright acidity, sour cherry fruit – Maraschino – dry tannin. Earthy fungal notes. Bright cranberry acidity on the finish. Yum.
93 points – Growers Collection – Moteo Chenin Blanc 2013
Quite a hit of reductive, matchsticky funk followed by nougat and ciderous apple stuff. Exotic and interesting perfume. Really wild in texture – sort of creamy but with a hit of popping sweet green apple and really tangy acidity. Unctuous, rolling, spicy, wild, sweeter style – what a ride. So delicious.
93 points – Growers Collection – Rose late harvest Riesling 2008
Incredible, almost electric golden colour to this wine. Smells toasty and like ginger snap biscuits, with lemon-lime citrussy scents in tow. Wild texture too – shows with slickness but also a jagged line of acidity that snaps awake the wine, dragging it long and fresh. There’s a huge clash of biscotti nuttiness, shortbread sweetness, preserved lemon tanginess and a slightly briny lift going on. Thrilling to drink and so far from stock-standard of ‘classic stickies’. Bravo.
Michael Coopers Buyers Guide 2014
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Howell Family Vineyard Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Franc
The 2009 vintage (10/10) was hand-harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts, matured for a year in French oak hogsheads (10 per cent new), and bottled unfined and unfiltered. It’s a bold (14.5 per cent alcohol), sweet-fruited red, with lovely depth of blackcurrant, plum and spice flavours. The 2010 (8/10) is a slightly lighter style, fresh, vibrant and supple, with strong plum/spice flavours, a hint of herbs, and oak complexity
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Field of Fire Chardonnay
Estate-grown at Waikari, in North Canterbury, the 2011 vintage (9/10) is from vines on a north-facing slope of shallow clays over limestone. Fermented in a 50:50 split of old oak barriques and terracotta clay amphorae from Italy (viewed as a flavour-neutral vessel, compared to barrels), it is bright lemon/green, with rich, peachy, slightly nutty flavours, showing excellent vigour and concentration, and a tight finish. Very high-priced – the outstanding 2010 vintage (10/10) sold for $85 – but full of personality, it’s well worth cellaring
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Lion’s Tooth Chardonnay
Estate-grown on an east-facing slope at Waikari, in North Canterbury, the memorable 2011 vintage (10/10) was fermented in a 50:50 split of clay amphorae and seasoned French oak barriques (see above). Lemon-scented, it’s a tight-knit, Chablis-like wine, very vibrant and crisp, showing excellent complexity and a real sense of intensity, vigour and immediacy. Best drinking 2015+
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Kerner Estate Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Blanc
Grown in the Waihopai Valley, the 2010 vintage (10/10) is outstanding. Hand-harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts and fermented in seasoned French oak puncheons, it is mouthfilling, with highly concentrated stone-fruit flavours, fresh and vibrant, hints of apricot and honey, a slightly oily richness, and a very smooth, dry finish. The 2011 (10/10) is also a memorable mouthful. Handled in seasoned French oak barriques, it’s a hedonistic wine, deep yellow/pale gold, with substantial body (14.5 per cent alcohol) and notably concentrated, peachy, spicy, slightly buttery, nutty and honeyed flavours, gently sweet (13 grams/litre of residual sugar) and soft. It’s delicious now
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Angel Flower Pinot Noir
From a north-facing slope at Waikari, in North Canterbury, the 2010 vintage (10/10) was picked from 10-year-old vines, matured for 10 months in French oak barriques (15 per cent new), and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Deeply coloured, it has a floral bouquet, with herbal notes. Mouthfilling, it is highly concentrated, with berry, plum and green-olive flavours, showing excellent complexity. Very generous, youthful and savoury, it’s a wine to ponder over. The 2011 (9/10) has full, slightly hazy colour. Matured in seasoned oak barriques, it is mouthfilling, rich and supple, with a concentrated, very savoury palate, plum and dried-herb flavours, fresh acidity and good tannin backbone. Best drinking 2015+
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Earth Smoke Pinot Noir
The 2010 vintage (10/10) is the best yet. Estate-grown on an east-facing block at Waikari, in North Canterbury, it was harvested from 10-year-old vines, matured for 10 months in French oak barriques (15 per cent new), and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Deeply coloured, it is mouthfilling and smooth, with lovely fruit sweetness and deep plum, herb and slight nut flavours, very concentrated, savoury and ‘complete’. The 2011 (8/10) was matured in seasoned oak barriques. It has slightly developed colour, with strong flavours of plums, herbs and spices, and nutty, savoury notes adding excellent complexity. It’s quite advanced; drink now onwards
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Calvert Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir
From the Calvert Vineyard at Bannockburn, the 2010 vintage (9/10) was fully barrique-aged. Deeply coloured, it is full-bodied, with rich, ripe cherry/plum flavours, gently seasoned with oak, hints of liquorice and spice, and excellent concentration and complexity. Drink now or cellar
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Cowley Family Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir
The 2010 vintage (9/10) was grown in the Wairau Valley, hand-picked, fermented with indigenous yeasts, matured for 17 months in French oak barriques (5 per cent new), and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Mouthfilling and savoury, it is well-rounded, with strong, cherryish, nutty, spicy flavours, showing good complexity, in a very fleshy, warm and generous style
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Riverbrook Vineyard Marlborough Riesling
Drinking well now, the 2010 vintage (8/10) is a crisp, medium style with citrusy, spicy, faintly honeyed flavours, showing excellent depth and some bottle-aged complexity
GOURMET TRAVELLER WINE
TOP 100 RELEASES – DECEMBER 2013
96 Points 2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Lion’s Tooth Chardonnay, Canterbury, A$125/NZ$120
Concentrated and complex with a more ethereal texture than its sister wine, Field of Fire. Orange blossom, guava, anise, ginger, mineral and bran are just some of the flavours. Powerful and full of character.
96 Points 2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Earth Smoke Pinot Noir, Canterbury, A$125/NZ$120
Very Burgundy-like. There’s violet, smoky, earthy, gamy and leather flavours, plus a suggestion of spice. It has a savoury emphasis. Fine, drying tannins add backbone.
96 Points2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Howell Family Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Hawkes Bay, A$65/NZ$52
This wine has appealing purity with lovely violet aromas and hints of dark berry. Subtle sweetness is matched by gentle tannins. Elegant and poised cabernet franc.
95 Points 2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Calvert Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago, A$85/NZ$52
From a vineyard once divided between Felton Road, Craggy Range and Pyramid Valley that has now has been sold. Soft-textured, rich and appealing with a mellow and slightly jammy texture.
November 2013: Elder Yarrow
WINEANORAK.COM JUNE 2011
Pyramid Valley Vineyards Angel Flower Pinot Noir 2008 Canterbury
10% whole clusters, warm ferment, 12 000 vines/hectare. Pale in colour and slightly cloudy, with wonderfully pure, sweet aromatics of sweet cherry fruit with hints of fudge sweetness and warm herbal notes. The palate is super-smooth and textured, showing sweet fruit and real elegance. Incredible texture here, with very fine structure. It’s a wine that is alive and quite thrilling. 97/100
Pyramid Valley, Kerner Pinot Blanc 2009
From the Kerner vineyard in Waihopi Valley in Marlborough, very nice, subdued, herb and softly oatmeal nose, has that lovely umami savour and dryness, with quite a full, sweet palate, lots of tang and vibrancy, the 15g/l of residual sugar adding sweetness but it has a plump, vibrant personality. 91/100.
Pyramid Valley, Rose (Late Harvest) Riesling 2008
Fabulously aromatic, fabulously toasty and exotic, with a beautiful kerosene background note and slippery, beautifully sweet palate cut by that grippy, phenolic finish. Lovely clarity and length here, lemon rind and orange grip and freshness. 91-92/100.
Pyramid Valley, Calvert Pinot Noir 2008
From Central Otago, Felton Road farm it and the fruit is split into three parcels that go to Felton Road, Pyramid Valley and Craggy Range. Beautifully soft, medium, with meaty and gamy notes, a lovely floral and kirsch-like top note and the palate has great clarity too. There’s a softening edge of sweet vanilla, and still a precision to the acidity and tannin of the finish. 91/100.
Pyramid Valley, Angel Flower Pinot Noir 2009
North facing, limestone. Lots of whole berry fermentation. Pale coloured again. Wonderfully rich truffle and sous-bois quality, with earth and ripe red berries. There’s coffee and strawberry, and there’s a mineral saltiness that gives this lovely grip and tension. 92/100.
Pyramid Valley, Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2009
Earth smoke has more clay over limestone. Very pale and orangy and quite hazy. The nose has definite streak of minerality, with fantastically complex herbal, leathery, with a bit of tight, almost liquoricy edge. On the palate this has a delightfully lean, focused palate. There’s a lemony clarity to the fruit, and nicely judged acidity along with really tight tannins. Finesseful and long. 92/100.
LISA PERROTTI-BROWN IN THE WINE ADVOCATE
“Receiving 15% whole cluster and aged 15 months in French oak, 33% new, on original lees, the 2007 ‘Eaton Family Vineyard’ Pinot Noir has a medium ruby color. There’s a funky/wild character on the nose over aromas of warm strawberries and raspberries, game, earth, forest floor, loam, truffles and a whiff of dried herbs. Very crisp and tight in the mouth, this medium-full bodied Pinot gives a medium level of silky tannins with great flavor concentration and a long layered finish. Drink it now to 2015+.” 92+ points
“Medium ruby-purple colored, the 2008 ‘Calvert Vineyard’ Pinot Noir comes from a vineyard based in Bannockburn and is managed by Felton Road. With the inclusion of 25% whole cluster and having been matured 14 months on original lees in 25% new French oak, it gives intense aromas of black cherries, warm raspberries, some earthy loam and moss plus nuances of cinnamon and coffee. Full bodied with crisp acid and a low to medium level of fine tannins, it finishes long and savory with some menthol coming through. Drink it now to 2015.” 91 Points
“Pyramid Valley’s 2008 ‘Kerner Estate’ Pinot Blanc is just sensational. Resulting from a wild yeast fermentation in old oak that lasted 10 months, the nose is a little mute to begin but give it a few moments and fragrant notes of spiced pears, warm apples and toast begin to appear with an undercurrent of white blossom and dill seed. The full bodied palate is rich with apple and stone fruit flavors plus a silken texture with crisp acid to enliven and a long creamy finish. Delicious now, it should open with a further 6 months in bottle and I’m imagining it will develop a pleasant nutty/toasty character, drinking through 2014+.” 92 points
“Fifteen percent of the 2007 ‘Riverbrook Vineyard’ Riesling was late picked, noble rot affected fruit. It has a moderately pronounced, complex nose of lime juice, honeysuckle, wet pebbles, musk and grapefruit with a whiff of white pepper. Light bodied, this is a medium-dry style possessing 20 grams per liter of residual sugar and 12.5% alcohol. The finish is very long, chalky and a little funky. Drinking now, it should cellar to 2016+.“ 91 points
STEPHEN TANZER, IN THE INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR
2008 Calvert Pinot Noir: “Full medium red. Complex, enticing aromas of cherry, raspberry, gunflint, spices, herbs and smoky minerality. The palate offers fat, sweet pinot red fruits complicated by chocolate and minerals. The smoky quality carries through to the plush, generous finish, which features a fine dusting of tannins and excellent persistence. I’m not sure this has the verve to support extended cellaring, but it’s already abundantly sexy wine.” 91 points
Huon Hooke, in the Sydney Morning Herald, August 2010:
“Best Import, Pyramid Valley Kerner Vineyard Pinot Blanc, Marlborough 2008: Deliciously different. Honeysuckle, floral and mineral aromas. Delicate, crisp, and charming flavour, clean and dry to finish, and not over-sweet – like so many Marlborough whites. 92/100.”
Joe Czerwinski, in the Wine Enthusiast, June 2010:
“Pyramid Valley’s 2008 Earth Smoke Pinot Noir is like few other New World Pinot Noirs. It’s delicate and finely wrought, with sinewy cherry and herb flavors and silky tannins that impart great elegance to the wine. While other New Zealand Pinot Noirs display Burgundy-like attributes, this one tastes positively Burgundian, in a relatively light bodied, Côte de Beaune sort of way.”
James Halliday, in the Weekend Australian, March 2010:
“2007 Pyramid Valley Eaton Family Vineyard Pinot Noir: Mike and Claudia Weersing are still the only growers in the limestone-rich Pyramid Valley north of Christchurch, having begun to plant their biodynamic micro-vineyard in 2000. This is one of their Growers Collection series from Central Otago and (in this case) Marlborough; 9600 bottles were made. It is an exquisitely perfumed wine with red flowers and violets, the texture of brocade silk, the palate pure, fine and extremely long.” 96 points
Tyson Stelzer, on his webzine Glass – Clear About Wine, February 2010:
“When it comes to winegrowing, Mike Weersing is one of the most articulate souls you will ever meet. His exacting approach flows through every detail of his vineyard and winery. Last year he hand-destemmed all of the fruit from the home vineyards. Ten tonnes, apparently a world record. With that kind of attention, even eight-year-old vines can perform miracles. This is gorgeously complex wine with all manner of theatrics – exotic spice, stone fruits, flower garden, savoury herbs and sous bois (French forest floor). For all of its antics, this is a very elegant, pure wine with super-fine structure. When you’re tired of run-of-the-mill wine, this is the bottle that will re-energise you.” 96 points
Stephen Tanzer in the International Wine Cellar, September 2009:
2007 Angel Flower Pinot Noir: “Good deep, bright red. Captivating nose offers raspberry, rose petal, smoky earth and flinty minerality. Densely packed and quite complex, in a less fruit-driven style than the Riverbrook, but downright sexy. A broader and more saline wine, with the energy and definition that comes from limestone. Savory, broad and tactile, with palate-saturating persistence. Fascinating soil-driven pinot, especially recommended for fans of biodynamic wine.” 93 points
Bob Campbell, on BobsWineReviews.com:
2008 Calvert Pinot Noir: “One of a trio of wines made from an equal share from one vineyard by three producers; Felton Road, Craggy Range and Pyramid Valley. They are all excellent wines in remarkably different styles. This seems earthier and slightly more rustic than the others (I have yet to taste them together) although it has similar dark cherry and spice flavours. Sweet and silken fruit with a lengthy finish.” 93 points
John Hawkesby, in The Weekend Herald, January 2010:
2007 Howell Family Cabernet Franc: “Hawkes Bay grapes off aged vines. Usual Weersing style – unfiltered, unfined. Gutsy, forward fruit style with piercing spice and lovely floral nose. Great length.”
Matthew Jukes in Decanter, November 2009:
2007 Calvert Pinot Noir: “There is more drama in this wine than a caseful of Vosne-Romanee, because the tempo and passion is there to witness in every molecule of its being. This interpretation of Calvert is sensational and moving: it pulls you into its vortex and leaves you ravaged and panting for more when it’s gone.” 18.5 points
S. Irene Virbila in the Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2009, Wine of the Week:
2007 Calvert Pinot Noir: “Pinot Noir can be tricky in New Zealand. One sip of the 2007 Pyramid Valley Calvert Vineyard Pinot from the Central Otago region, though, and I was convinced. What a terrific Pinot! It has everything going for it: deep-flavoured fruit that tastes of dark cherries and earth; a good structure and velvety tannins; and that quality hardest to find, character. You would be hard-pressed to find a Burgundy this good at this price. Save a bottle for a special occasion. Serve it with wild mushrooms, game birds, braised meats and gratins. Keep an eye out for Pyramid Valley’s Eaton Family Pinot Noir as well.”
Anthony Rose in The Independent, October 2009:
2007 Eaton Family Pinot Noir: “Pyramid Valley is a tiny winery in New Zealand making excellent pinot noir, and its 2007 Eaton Vineyard Pinot Noir, is a model of intensely flavoured mulberry and loganberry-filled fruit.”
John Bonne in The San Francisco Chronicle, December 26, “2008’s Most Memorable Wines”:
2006 Hille Vineyard Semillon: “Mike Weersing’s project is turning out some of the most characterful wines in New Zealand, but even for the staunchly geeky, this Semillon is more an erudite pleasure than anything. But its herbal, mysterious profile was so compelling that I ran out to buy a bunch.”
Stephen Tanzer in the International Wine Cellar, September 2008:
2007 Eaton Family Pinot Noir: “Good full red. Sappy aromas of red cherry, strawberry, blood orange, graphite and spices. Densely packed and sweet, with an urgent, sappy quality to the lush red fruit and licorice flavours. A fairly full and pliant style with excellent stuffing. Finishes with suave tannins and excellent length.” 91 points
2007 Hille Semillon: “Slightly hazy appearance (this is bottled without fining or filtration). Candied yellow fruits, light herbs and spices on the scented nose. Intensely flavored and spicy on the palate, with a note of marzipan adding complexity to the fleshy candied fruit and spiced pear flavors. Very sappy and aromatic on the long, vibrant finish, with a sexy oak component providing further interest. This Semillon-based wine does not belong in this article, but it was too intriguing to leave out.” 90 points