Browse all our archived news below, sorted by year.
Dear Friends and Followers of Bell Hill,
Finally the anticipated release of our 2004 Pinot Noirs. It has been another busy year at Bell Hill in all aspects, and the feedback from the first release of Bell Hill last year has been a great support in our endeavour. With modern email possibilities it is nice to hear from the people who actually drink our wine no matter how far away or on which continent they live. The 2003’s are drinking well at the moment, especially the Old Weka Pass Road, with the Bell Hill still years away from full maturity. No matter how long we seem to hold back the wines from release, they always seem to want more time, we know this is hard to do and our small volumes and allocations do not help with this.
Unfortunately, it will get worse before it gets better (with the miniscule 2005 vintage, due to bad weather during flowering, just out of barrel last month). The main reason for our continued small volumes has been the inability to get sufficient numbers of grafted vines with the more suitable and lime-tolerant rootstocks. Essentially, we are still working with the original plantings of 1997-1999 but thankfully should be getting new imported material once these have been sufficiently bulked up by nurseries over the next 2-4 years. It will take another 3-4 years before we see a harvest from them. Long term indeed, therefore we have decided from the 2004 Pinot Noir release to offer our wines to our mail-order supporters and a few select restaurants only in NZ (no retail) as well as our export markets (see our website for restaurant listings).
Yes, the Website! www.bellhill.co.nz It is a year late but it will be live any time now. We have tried to ensure it does not look too commercial and we have put a lot of information there (more than you wanted to know we are sure). We have always felt the best way to communicate about Bell Hill and what we do there is by having people visit so this should be a good substitute and communication tool for yourselves and our distributors and their customers in Australia, the US, the UK, Denmark and lately, Japan.
At the “Hill” we again enjoyed a mix of visitors from all over the world including Prof Denis Duboudeau from Bordeaux and Prof Jacques Fanet from the Languedoc, both visiting in February for the International Cool Climate Grape and Wine Symposium. Also from France, Pascal and Valerie Marchand ex Domaine de la Vougerie, and winemakers from Peay, Cuvaison and Amity in the US, Pipers Brook, Frogmore Creek and Meadowbank in Tasmania, and Stephen Bennet MW from Auckland. For harvest we had help from Nina Dinges and Cornelius Donnhoff in the Nahe, Germany. A little message goes a long way and reaffirms that seeing Bell Hill is important to understand our intent and point of difference. We were also a guest winery at the Otago Pinot Noir Celebration in January, and had our 2003 Bell Hill Pinot Noir at the annual Pinot Noir at Cloudy Bay tasting in June. It is great to be recognised by our peers with inclusion in these events. We were just recently in Sydney to show our new Pinot Noirs there which were well received and have been placed in some of Sydney’s top restaurants, details are on the website. In January we will attend the Pinot Noir 2007 event in Wellington and in February we have been invited as guest speakers for the Pinot Noir Forum in Tasmania.
The 2006 vintage turned out to be one of our better years thus far with a wonderful autumn to match the ideal growing conditions we experienced during the season. Fruit development and ripeness were very even and we had good fruit set, allowing us to do some rigorous crop thinning ending with 2T/acre yields. Like in 2004, we were able to ferment all blocks of Pinot Noir separately showing consistency in the individual expression of each block. All these wines were made on the property and are now maturing in barrel in our new underground cellar, finished last summer (except for the candle holders). The cool and even temperature allows for late malolactic fermentation and slow evolvement in an environment of consistency and quiet calm (even Tom our cat likes it down there and has been known to snooze in his tepee while we taste).
It seems that even though we are behind our plan with planting, the wines are showing themselves to be worth the effort and our initial leap of faith and belief in limestone soils has proved our instincts correct. Enjoy the 2004 vintage and many thanks for your support.
Marcel and Sherwyn.
P.S. Our mailing list is growing each year therefore, as per last year, we request that if you do not order but wish to remain on our list, please advise us.