Current Release

We are pleased to be able to show you our new wines. Our Bell Hill wines benefit from bottle ageing and therefore we release them around three and a half years after the harvest vintage. Time since then has proven their longevity.

 

 

2016 VINTAGE

The 2016 vintage season started with a moderate frost cycle – the wind machine was used only 3 times and water twice. A warm, dry season followed throughout, resulting in very even flowering and good fruit-set, also taking us into the second year of regional drought. Rain in January brought some relief and prevented our dry-farmed vineyard from experiencing drought stress and a light top-up in early March kept the vine momentum going. Overall, NZ experienced on average a 10% increase in crop load, mostly due to late increase in berry size as a result of the later rains and, for us, also a likely vine response to the very low yield the previous year as a result of hail. A relatively long harvest ensued, lasting from the 1st to the 21st of April.

On April 1st we made a start with the Shelf Chardonnay, moving to the Quarry Rootlings Pinot Noir on the 6th and back to Chardonnay with the Limeworks 2009 on the 7th and Roadblock 2008 on the 8th. Pinot Noir harvesting continued with the Shelf 1998 and Roadblock on the 11th, Westbank on the 13th, Slope on the 14th, Shelf Long Rows (2006-2008) on the 16th and, a return to Chardonnay Roadblock 2009 and Limeworks 1999 on the 19th before, the Quarry 10/5 Pinot Noir on the 20th to 21st.

Our winemaking philosophy is simple, the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blocks are multi-cloned and are typically harvested, fermented, pressed and put to barrel separately as individual blocks. This allows us to follow the evolution of the wine for a year before making our blending decisions and gives opportunities to evaluate single block potential. When we have good volume, we can split a block or two in half and do winemaking trials. The yeasts are natural, coming from the vineyard, we make small natural starters from each parcel after the fruit has been processed into its fermenting vat (PN) or pressed into tank (CH). Malolactic fermentation is 100%, also natural. We don’t use fining or clarification agents and filtration is minimal – coarse filtering for Chardonnay, the same for Pinot Noir from the racking valve down, or not at all. For Chardonnay, our first addition of sulphur is at 12 months when the wine comes out of barrel and into tank. Pinot Noir sees an addition of sulphur to protect the fruit during its cold maceration time and acid adjustments in the fermenter to stabilise pH for long term stability, colour and ageing. The wine is then left alone and sulphured in tank after barrel ageing for 12 months. Small sulphur adjustments are made, if necessary, just before bottling.

BELL HILL
PINOT NOIR 2016

The Bell Hill Pinot Noir is a complete barrel selection from the entire vineyard – the Shelf, Quarry (10/5 & Rootlings), Slope (a small portion only), Roadblock, and Westbank. Some blocks had a portion of whole bunch from 10-40% (Shelf, Westbank and one Quarry 10/5 vat) giving 14% over the entire blend and the remainder were 100% destemmed with lots of whole berries. The ferments had 24 to 32 days on skins with cold pre-ferment and warm post-ferment macerations. After basket pressing, the wine went into 100% new French oak, it was racked and blended after 12 months and had 6 months in tank before bottling on the 3rd of November 2017 with a pH of 3.6, TA of 5.5 g/L, and alcohol of 13%. 6,360 bottles were produced.

Complex nose with lifted aromatics of exotic florals, violet and red fruit. Savoury hints of sandalwood and spice with underlying earthy and dried herb notes. The palate is dynamic and detailed, first impressions being of elegance and taut, linear length with fine chalky tannins that unfold to reveal a silken texture with a plushness of volume extending the length, focusing the fruit and floral aspects of the aromatics onto the finish. NZ$125


 

BELL HILL
CHARDONNAY 2016

The Bell Hill Chardonnay is a select barrel blend from the Shelf, Limeworks (2009 & 1999 blocks), and Roadblock. The fruit was a combination of whole cluster pressed and crushed but not de-stemmed, depending on block, in our tank press followed by 12 months in French oak (20% new) and 7 months in tank. The wine was bottled on the 3rd of November 2017 with a pH of 3.30, TA of 6.3 g/L, and alcohol of 13%. 3,240 bottles were produced. We kept a portion of the Limeworks block aside and have bottled this separately as a single block blend which we plan to give more time and release with the 2017 vintage.

The nose has intense but refined aromatic lift combining vibrant wildflower, grapefruit and white stone fruit notes, followed by chalky, flint expression and a fresh lift of oak. The palate holds a delicious depth of fruit centred on those stone fruit and yellow citrus notes, underscored by the palate texture which reveals a long and refined drive, accessible all along but held in check by the chalkiness of texture and mineral, salivating effect on the finish. NZ$125


OLD WEKA PASS ROAD
PINOT NOIR 2016

The Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir 2016 is a 6-barrel blend from select barrels of the Westbank, Roadblock 2009 and 2008, Slope, our younger parcels of fruit. The handling on skins is the same as for the Bell Hill but the French oak was 66% new. The wine was racked and blended after 12 months in barrel, it had 6 months in tank and was bottled on the 6th of November 2017 with a pH of 3.69, TA of 5.3 g/L, and alcohol of 13%. 1,897 bottles were produced.

Openly fruited with some shyness at first that develops with air, an early release for this wine but you will be rewarded by the delicacy of fruit on the palate giving way to fine-boned tannins with a lovely linear line running through the fruit. NZ$65