Browse our reviews below.
Dec 28th, 2012
2006 Bell Hill Chardonnay - Complex aromas of lemon curd, honey, chalk and subtle mangoes. Full-bodied, with an incredible richness and finesse. It goes on for minutes. Phenomenal. Reminds me of a Batard-Montrachet from Leflaive. Tiny production. 95/100.
2009 Bell Hill Chardonnay - Wonderful aromas of lemon curd, tarte tatin, pear tart and hints of cream. Light pineapple too. Full body, with a fabulous texture that's almost silky. Fabulous finish of apple pudding, savoury and star fruit. Super. Better in 2015. 95/100.
2009 Bell Hill Pinot Noir - The texture in this wine is exceptional with wonderfully polished texture of tannins. Full body with superbly integrated tannins. Plums and strawberries with hints of sliced meat. Yet subtle and peaking out. In reserve still. Love this. When I tasted it, I had to drink it. Superb depth and finesse. 95/100.
2008 Bell Hill Pinot Noir - Dried flowers with dried strawberries and black truffles. Full and savoury with soft and silky tannins. It's like biting into a piece of seared meat with dried strawberry fruit under it. Turns to forest flowers and mushrooms. Juicy and sexy. Complex wine. 94/100.
2007 Bell Hill Pinot Noir - Aromas of strawberries, with spice and stem character. Hints of mocha. Coffee. Full and round with soft tannins. Round and decadent. Forest floor. Delicious. Drink now. 93/100.
2008 Bell Hill Chardonnay - A more steely quality here with lemon curd and mineral character and hints of flint. Oyster shell. Full and dense with beautiful structure and a clean finish. Racy and clean. 92/100.
2009 Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir - This is the second label from this producer. Medium to full body, with a savoury character. Juicy fruit. Spice and meat. Medium finish. Drink now. 90/100.
The North Canterbury area of New Zealand's South Island is a fertile hunting ground for those in search of structure in pinot noir, and it's no coincidence that this part of the world has attracted some of the more talented and determined pinot makers.
The Bell Hill vineyard has a magnificent patch of active limestone on which Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen have close planted both pinot noir and chardonnay. There are two pinots currently available, the first of which is the 2009 Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Road (NZ$50), which possess lovely depth and detail with dark cherry fruits, sultry spice and flesh palate appeal with lattice-like tannins. The 2009 Bell Hill Pinot Noir (NZ$105) is a landmark wine with immense depth and potential. The dark cherry, complex spice and neat oak frame deliver captivating depth, drive and balance to a level that is not commonly seen outside of the best vineyards of the Cote de Nuits. It has a fantastic life ahead.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2008 - This biodynamic estate in North Canterbury on the South Island has been causing a stir with its Pinots and Chardonnays. Whilst the 2008 Chardonnay was glorious (94 points) this utterly beguiling Pinot stole the show for me. From a tiny single plot, and only release now after four years, the nose is haunting, with such a beautiful fragrance combining ripe, soft, seductive fruit with truffle and damp, after-the-rain forest aromas. There are complex notes of roasted chestnut, game and dried blood. The palate doesn't let down the promise of the nose: it is wonderfully soft, leafy and brackeny, with gamy complexity and a dry persistence, but the sweet, sweet fruit is there, the tannins and acidity so agile and elegant. It's a high price, but it is magical stuff. 95/100.
Bob Campbell MW
Pinot Noir Styles
Bell Hill Chardonnay 2009 - Intense and very pure wine with exquisite acidity and minerality that is pure burgundy. Fine, linear wine with an ethereal texture and finish that goes on forever. Will age magnificently. Score 95.
Bell Hill and Pyramid Valley both deserve a special mention for their intense, complex Pinot Noirs. Whether it is limestone-rich soils, a favourable climate or attention to viticultural detail these two producers are responsible for some remarkable wines. If we averaged Pinot Noir quality in every region North Canterbury would be a clear winner.
Sommeliers Guide to New Zealand
The 2011 Bell Hill Chardonnay (N/A), tasted from barrel, wowed us all. Fine boned and intense, the layered palate kept opening with grapefruit, oyster shell, white nectarine, coriander and fennel notes. I got even more carried away by the current release 2008 Chardonnay (A$140/NZ$75) for which I wrote "Raveneau Les Clos, anybody?"
The pinot noirs were equally impressive. There were two: 2008 Bell Hill (A$160/NZ$95) and 2008 Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Road (A$100/NZ$45), which is their young-vine cuvee. Properly vinous, they were neither about fruit or oak or artifice. They were silken, mineral expressions of a place, of a vision realised.
The Kiwi Cuckoo's Attributes "The new New Zealand Financial Times
Consistently over-performing New Zealand Chardonnays have included Bell Hill's from a limestone outcrop in Canterbury, Neudorf Moutere from Nelson, Millton's biodynamically grown Clos Ste Anne from Gisborne and Kumeu River's example from Mate's Vineyard near Auckland, all of which are very far from the New Zealand super-crisp, technically perfect but ultimately rather soulless norm.
A New Hope
Way Down South - Why New Zealand Pinots are not just fashion
The Wandering Palate
The Pinot calls to mind Chambolle-Musigny's indisputably elegant upper crus while the Chardonnay marries the understated richness of Chassagne and precision of Puligny, even the meaty stoniness of Chablis in certain vintages. Ethereal in its classiness and because they are derived from similar limestone soil base, each wine's finish elongates with startling savoury mineral tones as well. Yes, umami maximus. The theme continues on it seems, at least while we are drinking Waikari's finest produce.
Michael Coopers Buyer's Guide to New Zealand Wines
Bell Hill Pinot Noir - From a 1-hectare plot of vines on a limestone slope at Waikari, inland from Waipara, in North Canterbury, this is a rare, highly distinguished red. It is typically a generous wine, powerful yet silky, with sweet cherry, plum and spice flavours, complex, very harmonious and graceful. The 2007 vintage (*****) was matured in French oak barrels (70 percent new). Very deeply coloured, it is gorgeously scented, with dense cherry and plum flavours, hints of herbs and spices, and a very refined, long finish. A wine with great presence, it's years away from maturity.