Browse our reviews below.
Best of 2013: Current Release Wines New Zealand
Whites - Bell Hill 2010 Chardonnay, North Canterbury. Rating: 95+
World-class Chardonnays are emerging out of some very special pockets in New Zealand and they are worth shouting about! Unfortunately these wines are also very small production and already have a cult following amongst the Kiwi wine cognoscenti, so if you manage to find a bottle, nab it! You won't be disappointed.
Reds - Bell Hill 2010 Pinot Noir, North Canterbury. Rating: 95+
The Pinots on this list are probably no surprise to anyone.
Pick of the Bunch Top Wines for 2013
Our unsung champion – North Canterbury, take a bow for the stunning quality of your wines
2010 Bell Hill Pinot Noir - Here's a big wine from a tiny vineyard in North Canterbury, where winemakers Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen hand-tend their vines. This is dark, fruity, full-bodied and hard to find. It's superb right now, but it will age stunningly.
2010 Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir - Just 558 bottles of this wine were made by Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen from their tiny Bell Hill vineyard. It’s youthful, full-bodied and smooth. Good now and will also age well.
Lisa-Perrotti Brown MW
Robert Parker - The Wine Advocate Tasting History
Vintage Profile - New Zealand: Fine Tuning
…A lot of the most exciting newer vineyards in New Zealand are being planted by winemakers seeking something very specific and very special…Marcel and Sherwyn were incredibly focused from the outset, knowing precisely the climate, soil and topography they were seeking in order to produce Pinot Noir of the style and greatness they envisaged. This, without doubt, shows in the captivating distinctiveness of the wines they’re making…First planted in 1997, as the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines continue to mature on this incredibly placed remote vineyard and winery positioned on an old limestone quarry, Bell Hill just gets more and more exciting. Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen have raised the bar high here, not just for New Zealand but for the world. Production is tiny and sadly even tinier in 2010 due to poor flowering…but the wines, in a word, rock. Anyone who truly wants to understand the potential of New Zealand’s greatest terroirs must find a bottle of Bell Hill.
2006 Bell Hill Chardonnay 93 Developing nicely into a lovely honeyed toast and brioche character, the 2006 Chardonnay has an exciting crushed stone/chalky undercurrent and a hint of orange peel. Still very youthful in the mouth with plenty of vibrant fruit, it is rich, concentrated and satiny in texture with a very long finish. Drink it now to 2016+
2007 Bell Hill Chardonnay 92 The 2007 Chardonnay is more nutty and tropical than the 2006 with a good core of muskmelon, guava and pineapple paste. Big, buxom and bold on the palate, it is a more gregarious reflection of this vineyard with a good, long, tropical fruit-laced finish. Drink it now to 2016
2008 Bell Hill Chardonnay 92+ Possessing a pretty perfume of honeysuckle, fresh peaches and coriander seeds, the 2008 Chardonnay reveals a chalky undercurrent with coaxing. Wonderfully intense and packed with tightly-wound flavors, it is still very youthful and has a lingering fruit finish with a touch of new oak pouring through. Approachable now, it should drink to 2018
2009 Bell Hill Chardonnay 94 The 2009 Chardonnay give notes of crushed cashews, meal and sulphides over a pink grapefruit and lemon tart core. Medium-bodied and very tightly knit and concentrated yet elegant in the mouth, it has a lovely silky texture and a very long finish. Drink it 2014 to 2020+
2010 Bell Hill Chardonnay 95+ The 2010 Chardonnay is quite closed at this youthful stage with citrusy lemon and grapefruit scents punctuated with ginger, toast and wet slate hints. Very taut and earthy/mineral in character in the mouth, this medium to full=bodied wine gives a good, long, citrus-laced finish. Drink it 2015 to 2022+
2007 Bell Hill Pinot Noir 92 Medium ruby in color, the 2007 Pinot Noir reveals lovely black cherry, black raspberry and violet notes with nuances of black pepper and tree bark. Medium to full bodied and sporting tons of berry and spice flavors, the flesh is nicely supported by very finely rained tannins and balanced acidity, finishing with great length. Drink it now to 2016+
2008 Bell Hill Pinot Noir 92 Medium ruby-colored, the 2008 Pinot Noir offers pretty red cherry, red current, lavender and underbrush notes. Medium-bodied and still very taut, it is delicately styled with silt-like tannins, refreshing acid and a very long finish. Drink it now to 2017+
2009 Bell Hill Pinot Noir 93+ The 2009 Pinot Noir gives a bright medium ruby color and aromas of kirsch, warm cranberries, cinnamon stick and a waft of anise. Medium to full-bodied and more of a muscular style in the mouth, it has a solid backbone of medium to firm, very finely grained tannins and lively acid, finishing long and layered. Drink this one 2014 to 2019+
2010 Bell Hill Pinot Noir 95+ Medium to deep ruby-purple in color, the 2010 Pinot Noir takes the level of complexity coming from this incredible vineyard up a notch! Revealing a seductive, dark and exotic fruit core of black cherries, wild blueberries and pomegranate, the nose is further perfumed by aniseed, cloves and lilacs with earthy/savory nuances. The palate offers incredible depth with layers of red and blackberry fruit interlaced with minerals, earth and savory/yeasty notes and supported by medium to firm, finely-grained tannins with just enough acid to contribute lift through the very persistent finish. Drink it 2015 to 2022+
2009 Bell Hill Pinot Noir A strikingly perfumed and exceptionally pretty mix of red and dark berry fruit aromas that are sprinkled with spice, plum and black cherry scents introduces very fresh and attractively vibrant flavors that possess a sophisticated mouth feel, all wrapped in a balanced and lingering finish. The harmonious effort could easily be enjoyed now although I would personally opt to continue cellaring it as there appears to be plenty of unrealized development potential remaining. 91/2017+
23 August 2013
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2010 Canterbury - Lovely clarity and ripeness. Good grip. Redcurrent and rhubarb fruit. Long and lithe. High acid really defines this wine - in a good way.
Jancis Robinson MW
October 24, 2013
Bell Hill – remember Chardonnay?
…This is a truly tiny operation, but the wines are very exciting. Some of relatively few vines planted on limestone in New Zealand, they yield wines of massive personality – much drier and denser than the Kiwi fruity, oven slightly sweet, norm. Both the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays in particular exhibit a very distinctive house style with very marked acidity – despite 100% malolactic fermentation – and admirable transparency. They seem a little more refined than the average stolid Cote d’Or white burgundy but have just as much sap and savour. Nowadays there is no lees stirring and sulphur is added only just before bottling. All wines, like most New Zealand wines, are stoppered by screwcap and seem to have lasted admirably. As you can see from my suggested drinks dates below, all these wines have a considerable future ahead of them. The wines below are listed in the order tasted.
Bell Hill Chardonnay 2004 Canterbury 16.5 Drink 2007-2017
Quite deep green gold. So archetypally NZ (a yeast thing?). Masses of acid. Very pure and still fresh. Bone dry, almost austere. Super pure but not that long. Still quite chewy.
Bell Hill Chardonnay 2005 Canterbury 16 Drink 2009-2019
Very small crop. Long fermentation. No new oak. Quite deep gold. Savoury, almost vegetal nose. A little sweetness on the mid palate but also a little malolactic fermentation character. Slightly hot finish. Great freshness but just a tad simplistic. Should last forever though!
Bell Hill Chardonnay 2006 Canterbury 17.5 Drink 2010-2022
The third warmest season since records began. Pale greenish gold. Really interesting herbal notes. Fennel? Starting to have a sense of place? Smoky. Slightly reductive and really jewelly and appetizing while having sufficient fruit weight. Pure pleasure.
Bell Hill Chardonnay 2007 Canterbury 17 Drink 2017-2025
First time all wild yeast. Very small crop. No new oak. Mid gold. Rather dumb on the nose. Lacks a bit of zest on the palate. Chalky finish. Rather hard on the end. Fine but very, very reserved.
Bell Hill Chardonnay 2008 Canterbury 17 Drink 2012-2022
Very pale gold. Sappy, appetizing and savoury in Burgundian style. Fresh and well defined. Though no concessions to sweetness. Still very dry on end but with good substance. Good finish.
Bell Hill Chardonnay 2009 Canterbury 17 Drink 2013-2016
Bright gold. Lime (fruit) flavor – almost like Alsace Riesling! Lots of opulent fruit and this vaguely metallic note. Broader than most vintages. Big and broad and the most powerful. Expansive and lovely till this metallic thing. Probably a strange sensitivity of mine
Bell Hill Chardonnay 2010 Canterbury 18 Drink 2016-2030
Just released. No new oak. Just two barrels. Bright gold. Very fresh. Lovely freshness and perfect balance. So pretty and settled down. Beautiful. Very pure.
Bell Hill Chardonnay 2011 Canterbury 17+ Drink 2020-2035
Quite quiet on the nose. Still very youthful. So tight. So tense and sinewy. Lime and refinement. But so introverted!
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2003 Canterbury 18 Drink 2010-2020
Remarkably dark crimson with a ruby rim. Very rich, true, Burgundian spicy with no gratuitous sweetness. Savoury liquorice. Lean and very appetizing on the finish. Lovely! Really hugely successful. Bit bigger than many but lots of pleasure.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2004 Canterbury 17 Drink 2011-2017
Mid ruby. Damson colour. Fresh finish. Very slight rhubarb flavor. Grainy tannins. Finishes dry. Restrained. Chewy finish.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2005 Canterbury 16.5 Drink 2012-2020
All destemmed. Very cool vintage. Mid ruby. Lightly vegetal nose. Sweet start to the palate. A bit lifted and not as obviously luscious as the others. A herbal hint, perhaps from stem fragments. Finished a tad suddenly.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2006 Canterbury 17 Drink 2011-2020
Very dark crimson. Very nuanced and complex nose. Seductive. Though it seems a little less fresh and more rusty nail (slightly) than the others. A bit more obvious and alcoholic than the others. Bit of a bruiser. 14.5%
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2007 Canterbury 17.5 Drink 2014-2022
This is the first vintage they have used all wild yeast. Dark crimson. Shaded rim. Subtle and luscious. Not too sweet. Restrained. Reverberant. Sinewy. Very fresh. Tense and tactile. Sophisticated.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2008 Canterbury 17 Drink 2015-2025
Bright ruby. Violets on the nose. Very fresh. Racy and a little bit of the metallic note. Quite tough at the moment. Very muscular.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2009 Canterbury 18 Drink 2017-2029
Bright ruby. Ripe red fruits on the nose. An interesting strawberry note like mature rioja. Sweet start and lovely crystalline freshness afterwards plus fine tannins. Chewy finish but transparent overall.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2010 Canterbury 18 Drink 2014-2030
This wine got slammed at their New Zealand technical conference. It has certainly come on! Cool spring and poor flowering. Very warm autumn and small crop. Dark crimson. Very lifted. Very complete and spreads right across the palate. Pure and faultless. Great tension on the finish. Like a cello string. You could enjoy this already but clearly there is masses of tannin.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2011 Canterbury 17 Drink 2018-2030
Dense ruby. Very fruit-dominated on the nose. Very chunky on the palate with tough tannins. Dry finish for now. A little bit jetlagged for having travelled with them.
Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir 2011 Canterbury 17 Drink 2014-2026
30% Whole-bunch pressed. Soft and jewellly. Hints of violets. A little sinewy on the end.
Wall Street Journal
No 1 2009 Bell Hill Pinot Noir
One of the most exciting Pinot Noirs I have tasted outside of France for a very long time. This winery, whose vineyards were planted in 1997, has come a long way in a short space of time. Charming sweet fruit and an electrifying acidity all marry to produce a wine of graceful intensity. To review this article: click here
The Wandering Palate
Bell Hill Chardonnay 2010 - Alluring perfume of grilled nuts and truffle oil becoming more minerally infused with an earthiness and wet pumice, chalky minerality, as its breaths revealing acacia blossom, mandarin-citrus, some subtle stone fruit nuances and hints of cinnamon spice. Wonderfully textured slippery and seamless, glides with a caressing richness across the palate, the mandarin-succulence carrying through the mouth then suddenly you realize how exhilarating the acidity is and bursting with energy with a long and powerful palate with intense spiciness amongst white stone fruits and a persistently long farewell with subtle gunflint, chalky tailing. An incredible wine that sort of sneaks up on you, on the one hand gentle, restrained and caressing and on the other a torrent of concentrated flavour and formidable power. As much as this is an enthralling drink now, it really deserves a decade in the cellar; that is of course you are one of few lucky people on the planet to have a bottle.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2010 - Intense perfume, incredibly scented and leaping out of the glass, deep and rich, very spicy, builds to a melliferous sweetness of dark cherry and blood plum, extraordinary lift and purity and deep-spiced, minerally-zinc. A tour de force on the palate exploding with a rush of black cherry and raspberry, the fruit crunchy and energised by a spicy carry and coiled acidity with incredible length enhanced by a captivating herbal complexity lurking on the farewell. In a way, quite an intimidating wine in its sheer power and concentration, yet supremely elegant and so silky-textured you can't resist drinking it - way before its time - try to lose this in the cellar for a very long time.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2009 - Even deeper perfume than 2010 yet still that certain restraint, subtle blueberry aromas and a musky quality to the perfume, more odorous and deeper, brooding, really minerally infused with iron and clay-terracotta like nuances. Fleshy and firmer (chalky) than 2010, and super-charged, wow, incredibly concentrated red cherry and raspberry, powerful palate-staining, excellent structure with fine, chalky tannins, brilliant energy and lovely richness on the back palate with the fruit flavours going on and on. The 2010 might be a just than tiny bit more balanced but this is wonderfully concentrated and attractively fleshy, but also needs many years in the cellar.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2005 - Concentrated perfume of poached blood plum and black cherry, showing some wonderfully secondary complexity with intriguing herbal, tobacco, black Chinese tea nuances, breaths out to reveal even more spice, very alluring and lifted oriental spices. Layers of rich fruit-blueberry-blue and black fruits, intense and pure, spicy, superb texture, silky and intense carry of the fruit which seems to be a hallmark of the vineyard. At 6 years bottle age, just starting to show development and whilst delicious it will continue to evolve for many years - more proof that the best New Zealand Pinot Noirs are drunk far too young. A great privilege to see this wine.
Joelle's Top 15 Pinot Power
2010 Bell Hill Pinot Noir - This wine comes from grapes grown on a two hectare vineyard in North Canterbury's Weka Pass where vines are planted at high density - 9,000 to 11,000 vines per hectare - then fermented at warm temperatures, which result in this beautiful soft, super smooth Pinot, which has a long life ahead.
The Wine Front
2010 Bell Hill Pinot Noir - What a site! Planted then replanted on an old limestone riddled site, complete with Moa bones, Bell Hill has been meticulously curated by Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen. There's an almost manic attention to detail here; a small site that has care and attention at the forefront, close planted, low to ground, Burgundian excellence in mind and a determination to extract terroir messages at the fore. This wine finds the best fruit from the multiple micro-plots of vines - a selection to find the finest expression of pinot noir. Tiny quantities produced each year.
Dark brooding colour, peppery oak wafts over dark berry fruit and briar. Very juicy, fresh, fragrant style, peppery feel, green fruits and laser-like acidity, brisk and frisky, finishes with chalky pucker. It's an intense and composed wine, touch unyielding now, but in that fine-tuned way. Drinkability suffering for firmness and intent of longevity in this wine now, but you have to admire it's structure and composure. Amazing depth here, such wonderful texture, bounce and pliancy. Outstanding. 96pts.
Passion for Pinot
Viva, NZ Herald
2009 Bell Hill Pinot Noir - In an old limestone quarry in the wilds of North Canterbury, Bell Hill is making some of the country's most exciting pinot noirs. Its intense, darkly fruited palate is infused with notes of spice and cocoa, and supported by a line of fine acid and firm grainy tannins.
Nick Bulleid MW and Panel Members
Gourmet Traveller Wine
2009 Bell Hill Pinot Noir - this had Peter Bourne enthusiastic. "Dark fruit characters - black cherry and mulberry - smoked spices and mocha. Very rich and powerful with lots of intense dark fruits. It's a big mouthful but it works." The wine certainly shows plenty of fruit and tannin extract, along with distinct new oak and tight acidity. It needs time but will be worth the wait.
2008 Bell Hill Chardonnay - Fabulously flinty and limey nose, a real sense of minerality but an overlay of Brazil nut, buttery, super-ripe fruit too. The quality of oak is all cashew and ground almond in a subtle added dimension. Beautifully sweet fruit on the palate, simmering with peach and ripe apple, a touch of glace fruit, but again that lime and mineral, stone and sea shell intensity. Approximately 850 bottles were produced. 94/100.
2007 Bell Hill Pinot Noir - Beautiful nose, nicely vegetal Pinot aromas of rhubarb and beetroot, but delicious truffly notes too and masses of ripe, luscious berry fruit over a chocolaty background. On the palate the sweet fruit sings out, masses of chocolaty, ripe berries and plum, great structure too with refined tannins and a silky weight of fruit clearly delineated by the acidity. Approximately 1200 bottles were produced. 94/100.
2008 Bell Hill Pinot Noir - What a haunting nose, such a beautiful profile combining ripe, rich, chocolaty fruit, a certain truffle and damp undergrowth intrigue and notes of roast chestnut, game and blood. There's a lifting perfume of orange blossom in there too. The palate does not falter, beautifully soft with a touch of orange again, leafy bracken notes that are gamy and complex and a fine palate of red fruits. Very elegant, silky tannins and discreet, fine acidity complete an utterly convincing picture. Approximately 1780 bottles were produced. 95/100.
Good Wine Guide 2013
Best NZ Pinot Noir - 2009 Bell Hill Pinot Noir
This tiny outpost and labour of love has delivered a pinot noir that really reflects the potential of the site and the dedicated attention to detail both in farming and winemaking. This is a rich, complex and utterly thrilling pinot noir, with power and finesse walking hand in hand.
2009 Bell Hill Pinot Noir - The impeccably maintained Bell Hill vineyard is a thing of great beauty: surrounded by exposed limestone cliffs near Waikari in North Canterbury, this close-planted vineyard is one of the region's most exciting sites. Beautiful, sultry black cherry fruit, exotic spice, roasting game and judicious oak all play a part here with great structure and a salivating acidity more common with the famous cap-rock slopes of Burgundy than New Zealand. Superb. 97/100.
2009 Bell Hill Chardonnay 2009 - A symphonic chardonnay that has a very composed and complex style to it, some very refined oak use, solids-derived pithy grapefruit, chalk and flinty mineral notes. It's a breathtaking wine, really pure and concentrated. The palate has fresh stone fruit flavour in the peach and nectarine spectrum, some bright acidity, and smooth pear and nectarine flavour here. Great depth, drive and length, with the merest hint of toasted hazelnut to close. 96/100.
2009 Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir - De-classified Bell Hill Pinot on show here, which in itself is a very enticing proposition. There's dark cherry fruits, a brush of forest floor, a dusting of exotic spice, some roasting duck and a smattering of sexy oak. On the nose and the palate this is one sultry, appealing wine ... just lovely. 93/100.
Bob Campbell's 100 Top New Releases
2009 Bell Hill Pinot Noir, North Canterbury (A$150/NZ$105) - Dark berry in colour with spice and anise flavours plus a hint of mocha and wood smoke. The texture stars initially but the flavour profile becomes increasingly complex. It has an incredibly long finish. 98*****