The spiritual home of Pyramid Valley lies in the foothills of the Southern Alps and the limestone clay slopes of Waikari in North Canterbury. The four parcels of vineyard, planted in the early 2000’s by Mike and Claudia Weersing have produced some of New Zealand’s most revered Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Why? Well, a vanguard attitude to selecting this site for one. Genuinely, properly, dramatically cool – and these incredible clay-limestone soils that bare an uncanny resemblance to the slopes of the Cote d’Or. Natural viticulture with biodynamics at the core, and all the wines fermented with the natural biome of the place. Dramatic, bristling, savoury wines with grand vin pedigree. How could we find another place like this with the heritage, the drama and sensitive human cultivation?
That was the challenge we set ourselves right from the start, and it took some time. However, like Waikari, nestled in the foothills of the Southern Alps in a secluded valley connected to the original course of the Mata-Au River by the Low Burn in Central Otago, we found what we thought could be the place. These soils had been first farmed over 150 years ago by goldminers for their vegetables, such was the quality of the soil and the pristine alpine waters flowing through the property. Since that time, sensitive farming had allowed the soils to build life-giving organic matter. Deep in the soil lay granules of rare pedogenic lime, creating a high pH environment not unlike the genuine limestone of Waikari. These soils are truly special as is this secluded valley.
"Soils first farmed over 150 years ago by goldminers for their vegetables, such was the quality of the soil and the pristine alpine waters flowing through the property."
Roger and Jean Gibson saw the potential of this place in the mid 2000’s and set about planting their vineyard to Pinot Noir. Part of that vineyard was a small planting of 0.7ha. of the Abel clone, reportedly grown from cuttings of a vine in La Tâche taken in the early 80’s. This clone plays a part in many of our country’s great Pinot Noirs and was grown on some of the most loamy beautiful soils on the property. We first made wine from this parcel in 2017 and in 2018 we purchased the property and renamed it Manata after the love story and legend of a Māori Princess of this region. We revitalised this parcel with regenerative cover cropping and immaculate biodynamic viticulture, taking three growing seasons to unveil the character of these mature, healthy vines. In 2021 we were able to make the wine in our new Waikari winery, using the natural biome of that property for fermentation. Following a similar approach in 2022 and 2023, we realised we had found a parcel at Manata that would become a special addition to the four foundation wine parcels of Waikari. Evocatively named after the dominant pasture plant found in the vineyard, we continued that theme with Snake’s Tongue, one of many common names used for blue borage, Viper's (snake’s) bugloss (ox-tongue).
"Darker than the Waikari wines and more evocatively fruited, it nevertheless has the Pyramid Valley stamp of energy, freshness and long svelte tannins."
As with all the Waikari wines, the Pyramid Valley Snake’s Tongue Pinot Noir has a strong personality. Darker than the Waikari wines and more evocatively fruited, it nevertheless has the Pyramid Valley stamp of energy, freshness and long svelte tannins, velvet and thyme. Unquestionably Central Otago but through our lens. The 2021 is a wine we are enormously proud of, as are the 2022 and 2023 vintages to follow.
Art has always been part of the Pyramid Valley DNA. The Waikari wines are adorned with beautiful original botanical art works of Patricia Curtin. We have chosen to celebrate Snake’s Tongue and blue borage through the vision of Jo Ewing in another original piece of artwork, this time from an extremely talented New Zealander living in Ōtautahi, Christchurch. We look forward to sharing a glass of this wine with you soon.