Browse our reviews below.



Paul White,
New Zealand Magazine,
October/November 2005

“…I chased down young pioneers who are tackling the holiest of holy grails – growing pinot noir and chardonnay on ‘active’ limestone soil, just as it is done on the greatest vineyards in Burgundy…The pinots I’ve tasted (the vintages 1999 through 2002) suggest that they (Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen) might be unlocking that elusive, soil-derived structure and finesse that elevates Burgundy’s pinot output above that of the New World…While their winemaking is still in its infancy here, these two pairs of visionaries (including Mike and Claudia Weersing) are on the road to cracking one of the major divides between Old and New World wine. If they succeed, they could reshape the future direction of both pinot noir and chardonnay in New Zealand.”

John Thorogood MW,
Wine Buyer Lay & Wheeler UK October 2005

Bell Hill Chardonnay 2004

“ We have just tasted Bell Hill Chardonnay 2004. It is absolutely stunning!!! Seldom have I tasted a New World Chardonnay with the complexity and balance you have achieved in this wine. Citrus and tropical fruit, spice, toasty oak are all there – and terrific length of flavour too.”

Campbell Mattinson,
Winefront Monthly,
Australia September 2005

“ Pinot Noir 2003 ($120): Classic, outstanding Pinot Noir. It is expressive and clean and bright, as a young wine should be, but it’s also got long legs of chalk and stone that pretty quickly get the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. There’s a touch of undergrowth and a lot of tannin, and there’s nothing wrong with either. This should be a slow evolver. Drink: 2006-2014. 93 points.”

Bob Campbell,
“New Zealand Collectables – Rising Stars”
Gourmet Traveller Wine
Aug/Sept 2005

“Today’s bargains can be tomorrow’s cult wines… Bell Hill is the dream wine project of Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen. The vineyard, situated about 15 minutes’ drive west of Waipara, looks like something from a film set. Imagine a steep, north-facing slope that’s adorned with low-trained, densely planted vines in a vineyard coated with bright limestone chip, and a romantic alpine chalet alongside. The vineyard, on the site of an ancient limestone quarry, is planted with pinot noir and a small amount of chardonnay. Although the first few vintages have been very good, they haven’t met Giesen and Veldhuizen’s high standards and were marketed under their Old Weka Pass Road label, but their best is surely yet to come.” Grape Expectations: When Bell Hill Pinot Noir finally appears, buy it.

Jancis Robinson,
“Top Billing”
New Zealand 2005 Decanter Supplement

“… I was very impressed, on the other hand, by many Pinot Noir producers in North Canterbury, north of Christchurch. In the tiny, embryonic estates being created on carefully sought-out outcrops of limestone such as Bell Hill and Pyramid Valley, two young couples are completely focused on making world-class, truly subtle Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay). Bell Hill has created a stir even before releasing a single wine under its own label, thanks to the quality of its bottlings under its second label, Old Weka Pass Road. If Canterbury, and notably its enclave Waipara (sic), may be most likely to produce truly Burgundian New Zealand Pinots…”

James Halliday,
“Small but perfectly performing”
Weekend Australian
2-3 April 2005

“ Two NZ couples* have undertaken the exercise from the other end, hoping to short-circuit the Burgundian multiple-century process and the shorter New World approach. They spent years searching for the right sites, both discovering their sites independently of each other, they went outside any existing area and by sheer coincidence ended up in adjoining valleys northwest of the existing Waipara subregion in Canterbury, an hour’s drive north of Christchurch. Marcel Giesen and his wife, Sherwyn Veldhuizen, found an old limestone quarry on Old Weka Pass Road in 1997 and began planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on clonally selected vines on a variety of rootstocks at densities ranging from 9,090 and 11,111 vines per hectare, three to four times as dense as most Australian plantings.”
* The other couple mentioned are Mike and Claudia Weersing from Pyramid Valley Vineyards.

Jancis Robinson,
Purple Pages
March 2005 Tasting Notes
NZ 2003 Pinot Noirs

Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2003 19/20 points Drink 2008-14. “ Very exciting wine to be released in July 2005 from a tiny newish vineyard planted on limestone. First releases under the Old Weka Pass Road label were less dependent on Dijon clones but very creditable, especially the 2001. This 2003 first Bell Hill bottling is dark and brooding with woodsmoke aromas and real weight and depth. Vibrant and lively with a serious dry finish. There is lots of tannin here but the tannins are very fine. Just two and a half barriques were made. This is destined to be a cult wine, alas.” (Top score from all 2003s tasted)

Rajat Parr,
Wine director,
Michael Mina Group,
NZ Herald Viva
2 March 2005

“ I think there are areas in North Canterbury that are perfect for growing and making some of New Zealand’s best pinot noirs. I don’t think there is anyone else in the New World taking such a total chance in the way they are growing vines as Marcel Giesen is doing in limestone soils on slopes that are very hard to manage. He is doing an amazing job.”