Browse our reviews below.
New Zealand: More than A “Savalanche”
Located in an idyllic but isolated limestone quarry in the Weka Pass, North Canterbury; Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen (plus resident cat) are a small hands-on operation producing some outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their high-density plantings on four limestone-rich blocks totaling just 0.88 hectares with two more blocks due to come on-line in the next two years. Only 1,253 bottles of the 2004 Pinot Noir (91 points) were produced: an entrancing nose encapsulating the chalkiness of the soil with a focused, very natural, beautifully balanced wine on the palate, a sensuous finish that lingers in the mouth…their soulful 2006 Pinot Noir (93 points) is their best to date. A lovely mulberry tinged nose with hints of wild hedgerow, a wonderfully poised, natural palate with touches of red cherry, strawberry and vine tomato. Feminine and refined with filigree tannins: this is exquisite Pinot to cherish for 5-8 years. Only 747 bottles of the limestone and apple-scented 2004 Chardonnay (89 points) were produced, showing judicious use of oak with an attractive but slightly simplistic Meursault-like finish. The two and a half barrels of the 2006 Chardonnay (93 points) is better with tangible limestone on the ebullient nose with touches of greengage and citrus fruits, the palate infused with subtle tropical fruits with some unresolved oak on the finish that will surely melt into the texture of this gorgeous Chardonnay. Although Bell Hill is a nascent entity, the winemakers know that patience is a virtue when it comes to eking out the best in their vines. What I can say is that even at this early stage, their wines contain that indefinable element called “soul” and that is a priceless virtue.” Bell Hill as a recommended producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
19 Feb 2008
Bell Hill, Chardonnay 2004 This extremely low-tech winerywas established in 1997 by Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen at a 1920s lime quarry in the Weka Pass, North Canterbury. One hectare was planted with around 10k vines per ha. I tasted some early wines at the vineyard a few years ago and all of the wines, including some very Burgundian Pinot Noirs and this one is very unlike any other New World Chardonnay I know. Slightly stinky in the French style but with great density and conviction underneath. Really dry and dense – I would recommend decanting this. Long and fine with lovely texture.” Drink 2007 to 2013. Score 18/20.
WBM – Australia’s Wine Business Magazine The Week That Was,
“If you are convinced that Aussie Pinot is in the same league as the kiwi stuff, then get hold of a bottle of Bell Hill; it may change your mind. But you had better hurry because only 1,253 bottles were produced (2004 vintage). Marcel’s amazing attention to detail is behind the success of this cult wine.”
Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide To New Zealand Wines
Bell Hill Pinot Noir (5 Stars). From a 1-hectare plot of vines on a limestone slope at Waikari, inland from Waipara, in North Canterbury, this is a highly distinguished red. After the initial 1999 to 2002 vintages were sold under the Old Weka Pass Road label, just 698 bottles were released of the debut Bell Hill from 2003 (5 Stars). Deeply coloured, it’s a lovely generous wine, powerful yet silky, with sweet cherry, plum and spice flavours, complex and still developing. The alluring 2004 (5 Stars) is very rich and velvety, vibrantly fruity, harmonious and graceful. Bell Hill Chardonnay (5 Stars). Only 62 cases were made of the rare, intense and finely textured 2004 vintage (5 Stars), but it’s a magical wine. Grown at Waikari, in North Canterbury, and fermented and aged in one-year-old French oak barriques, it’s an extremely rich wine with light, bright yellow/green colour and layers of grapefruit, mineral and delicate oak flavours, elegant and youthful. Tasted from the barrel (and so not rated), the 2006 is very fragrant, with crisp, rich stone-fruit flavours.
Wine Report 2008 by Tom Stevenson and a unique team of regional specialists,
Bob Campbell Global Report New Zealand
New Up-And-Coming Producers - No. 1 - Bell Hill; Most Exciting And Unusual Finds - No. 1 – Chardonnay 2004 Bell Hill, North Canterbury “I’m not alone in saying that this is the best New Zealand Chardonnay I’ve tasted. From limestone soils in a tiny vineyard and an exciting new region. Reminds me of a good Montrachet.
The Juice 2008
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2005 “Further strengthening New Zealand’s reputation as the measuring stick for New World Pinot Noir, Bell Hill was established…with the aim of creating wines that captured the full expression of their vineyards, rather than ones that emulated those from another part of the world. To date, a variety of clones and rootstocks planted at high density across a mix of sites have produced some of the most exciting examples of Pinot Noir to emerge from this side of the equator in recent memory. Pinot Noir lovers: if it means walking over hot coals in order to get your hands on these incredible wines – do it.
Decanter February 2008 New Zealand Supplement
A World apart? Top Wines To Try…Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir 2004, 4 stars. “Strikingly labeled with white Maori drawings on a black background, this has a fine raspberry fragrance with seductive wild stawberries tinged by cola spiciness with elegant tannins.