Browse our reviews below.
NEW ZEALAND'S HEART OF LIMESTONE
APRIL 6, 2017
Simply put, their Pinot Noir is among the very best made in New Zealand, and, dare I say it, the entirety of the Southern Hemisphere. As an expression of the place they come from, they are delightful. As an indication of the potential for New Zealand Pinot Noir as a genre, they are revelatory.
2013 Bell Hill Chardonnay Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd with a hint of pineapple on top. In the mouth, lovely lemon curd and lemon juice flavors mix with citrus pith and wet stones and a hint of yellow herbs. Fantastic acidity and precision. Closed with screwcap. 13% alcohol. 1429 bottles produced. Score: between 9 and 9.5
2013 Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of wet stone and forest berries. In the mouth, wonderfully savory notes of herbs mix with the red raspberry and other forest berry flavors that are buzzing with excellent acidity. Notes of herbs and dried flowers linger in the finish with a hint of aromatic cedar and citrus peel. Very faint, nearly imperceptible tannins hang on the edges of the mouth. Closed with screwcap. 13% alcohol. 1056 bottles produced. Score: between 9 and 9.5
2013 Bell Hill Pinot Noir Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of lavender, wet earth, and redcurrant. In the mouth, beautifully dynamic flavors of redcurrant, fresh herbs and a touch of wet earth mix in a vibrant dazzle of acidity. Gorgeously savory, with the fruit welded to this herbal earthy core of the wine, with high notes of sourish redcurrant lingering in the finish. The tannins are quite fine and stony in quality, lingering along with the wet chalkboard, slightly saline quality in the finish. Closed with screwcap. 13% alcohol. 4458 bottles produced. Score: around 9.5
2002 Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Road A slightly cloudy medium ruby in the glass, this wine smells of wet leaves, dried red apple skin, carob and vegetable ash. In the mouth the wine's fruit has faded to a hint of redcurrant and dried raspberry, with herbs both fresh and dried, as well as a touch of wet leaves and forest floor. The wine has a gorgeous soaring finish in which the fruit emerges along with dried leaves. There's still that faint sense of minerality that marks these wines, but softer. Faint, putty-like tannins. Still good acidity. A fun look at the history of this plot of land. Closed with screwcap. 12.5% alcohol. 900 bottles produced. Score: between 8.5 and 9
NZ PINOT STYLES EMERGE
MARCH 7, 2017
Arguably New Zealand's most burgundian Pinots come from Canterbury, the sweep of
grazing land east and north of the city of Christchurch, including Waipara and North Canterbury. It's not necessarily the case that all Pinots from here have burgundian complexity and
savour but many of them do, and there is a concentration of producers here whose guiding lights are very obviously
Bell Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2010 Sweet, concentrated and candied violets. Still quite a bit of tannin. Very low crop and
tastes it! Quite high alcohol. Drink 2019-2028, 17 Points
Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir 2011 Canterbury Very pale with lots of whole bunch. Light and sweet. Not
as interesting as the 2013. Charming but a bit sweet and simple though with good grip. Drink 2017-2021, 16.5 Points
Bell Hill Old Weka Pass Road Pinot Noir 2013 Oldest vines are 20 years old. Very burgundian nose and exciting.
Very refined. Lovely stuff! So elegant! Very appetising. Drink 2017-2023, 17.5 Points
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2013 Deeper than the Old Weka Pass Road just tasted – more ambitious and less charming.
Drink 2019-2029, 17.5+ Points
ELAINE CHUKAN BROWN
STAND OUT WINES FROM NORTH CANTERBURY
HAWK WAKAWAKA WINE REVIEWS
One of the stand out Pinots of North Canterbury is no doubt Bell Hill in the Weka Pass. It’s a wine that’s generated a cult following from wine geeks and wine lovers worldwide. We were able to taste multiple vintages of the wine and they share among them a sense of force and concentration that comes in strong at the front of the palate and then spins into a long graceful finish. The 2013 offered poised generosity carrying lightly wild notes in a cultivated frame. It’s a combination that makes the wine memorable and intriguing.
DISCOVERING LESSER KNOWN PINOT HEROES
Slightly out on its limb in a hidden-away, picture-perfect gem of a place. I have to admire owner and winemaker Marcel who challenged himself to cook me dinner when I visited his beautiful homestead. German born and a man of quietly spoken wisdom he, together with his wife, Sherwyn produces wines that are rather special.
The 2008 Pinot was a mineral-induced classic Burgundy-influenced wine, with spiced cherries, a fabulous background depth of juicy roast legs of young lamb oozing out of the glass… superb quality and wines that shout out for fine food.
PINOT 2017 - DAY ONE ROAD TRIP
Bell Hill North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2013 Light ruby-red colour. This is an amalgam of finesse and intensity, showing cherry and berry fruit with pure floral elements and subtle herb nuances. Is there any whole cluster? If so, very integrated. Brilliant balance on palate with vitality of fruit, red berry and cherry, with fine herb suggestions, a touch of mineral. Very fine extraction, and acid tension and energy. Classical beauty here.
NEW ZEALAND CHARDONNAY
GISMONDI ON WINE.COM
2012 Bell Hill Chardonnay: Farmed organically and biodynamically, the limestone sloped North Canterbury site of Bell Hill is one of the most remarkable in New Zealand. Husband and wife Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen farm and produce the wines in this 2ha site, tucked in an old lime quarry in the Weka Pass. Grapes were picked earlier phenological ripeness, crushed with stems and then basked pressed with 10 percent solids before racking into French oak (25 percent new) for a year, followed by eight months more in tank.
Earthy and savoury, with wild herbs, broken stones, fine spicing throughout the taut, lean and linear frame. Citrus, green apple, subtle quince, green fig and chalk vibrate in a focused core, while light salts and spices linger on the lengthy finish. Memorable and finessed now, and will be even more so with a decade in the cellar. 95/100
WINES OF THE YEAR 2016
Some Top New Zealand Wines Another post rounding up some of the star wines that I tasted and drank in 2016. And I drank and tasted a lot last year. Many of these bottles were consumed in New Zealand in January and February. 15 wines were selected…
Bell Hill Chardonnay 2012 North Canterbury Intense, youthful, vivid nose of citrus, pear, smoke and toast. The palate is concentrated with a touch of fig, some pear, quince and a lovely core of citrus fruit. Very high acidity, with amazing focus on the finish. Needs time. 96/100
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2008 North Canterbury Supple and nicely savoury with some minerals and expressive red cherries, as well as a bit of meatiness. The palate has lively, bright structure and also good depth. Nice freshness to the structure of this wine, with a silky elegance. 96/100
AN EXTENSIVE TASTING OF PINOT NOIR FROM NORTH CANTERBURY
North Canterbury is the new-ish term used to describe the vineyard region close to Canterbury, which includes the Waipara Valley. In the couple of days I spent here, I tasted my way through many of the the wines, and these are my notes on the Pinot Noirs that I’ve tried. It’s a region that I’ve visited a few times, and I really like it. When Pinot hits highs here, it hits real highs.
Bell Hill Pinot Noir 2013 Very fine and expressive, this has substance and also elegance. There’s a lovely freshness to the palate with sweet red fruits and a bright structure that has a lot to do with the well integrated acidity. Fine herbal notes and really fine-grained tannins here, as well as fresh red cherries and a bit of plum. Lovely wine with a long future ahead of it. 96/100
BEST OF 2016 CURRENT RELEASES
Best of New Zealand In 2016, I continued to see sparks of brilliance among disparate pockets of New Zealand’s Pinot Noir plantings. And the Chardonnays just keep getting more and more impressive. 2013 Bell Hill Pinot Noir, Canterbury: Bell Hill’s unique limestone slope in North Canterbury continues to yield one of New Zealand’s finest Pinot Noirs. Still a newly established site in the big scheme of things, the future of this already highly sought-after wine is very exciting indeed.