Archived News

Browse all our archived news below, sorted by year.



October 2017

Dear Friends of Bell Hill,

We hope this letter finds you well. Everything is good at Bell Hill having come through winter with an early finish to pruning and on-target soil and weeding work. This sees us well set up for spring thanks to our team who worked away while we were in the EU on a combination of sales, vineyard and winery equipment research, tastings… with some holiday and family time.

Another season ahead of us with an early start to budburst, around a week earlier than normal, and some decidedly wintery weather accompanying this but no frosts yet. We hope for a mild start to the season in that respect and a dry finish, we’ll get what we get…As I write this we are labelling and tissue wrapping our 2014 vintage and getting ready to bottle our 2016 vintage. The 2015 is quietly resting in bottle, taking up very little warehouse space at it is a small vintage and the 2017 is finding its path in barrel. The wines are elusive when so young and we must wait at least a year to see their shape and form. We had a deviation of path with the 2017 and, due to the cyclone activity, have re-instated our old Methode Champenoise programme. There will still be some Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but the timing of the cyclones and the ripeness levels of the grapes meant we couldn’t get there with everything. Thankfully, we have experience of sparkling wine at Bell Hill and the chalky soils and acid structures are well suited for a complex and long aging sparkling wine style. We are enjoying the new challenge especially after having tasted reserve wines out of barrel at some very well regarded Champagne Houses while in France over the winter.

Our escape from (most) of winter saw us starting in London to spend time in the trade with our two distribution partners – H2Vin and Armit Wines, then via The Netherlands and family for the weekend and onto our new distributors in Germany (Wein Am Limit) for a tasting, some filming and a Winemakers Dinner and Denmark (Domaine Brandis) for a trade visits to very high calibre restaurants who were already our customers (Copenhagen has the highest number of Michelin restaurants per capita in the world). On to France and Germany for various vineyard and winery research and tastings as well as connecting with an importer for France in Bordeaux – who would have thought there could be a small market for our wines there! Other export markets are going well and we’re still settling in to our new model for the US where we have just released the 2012 and 2013 vintages, the 2014 will follow in the new year. This brings us to the subject of the pending release of the 2014 wines and our offering of them to you.

To tell you a little about the 2014 season, it was characteristically mild and unchallenging after a frosty start, pockets of rain here and there through the moderately warm season and more moisture in March/April. Harvest started smoothly and early but we had some weather pressure and needed to be very selective with our sorting for the Pinot Noir, resulting in some volume losses. For the Chardonnay, we now have two wines on offer – the Old Weka Pass Road Chardonnay for the first time (we are offering this to our NZ customers only) and the Bell Hill Chardonnay. On a very positive note, with the pending 2016 bottling, we can offer you a Bell Hill Chardonnay and (stepping up) a Single Block Limeworks Chardonnay. If the 2018 vintage is kind, we will look for more opportunities to go along the Single Block path. As always, we’re in nature’s hands.

In NZ, we are still focusing on our wonderful private mail order customers, restaurants and lodges. With our export markets, we have new markets in France and Macau so things are opening all the time but the challenge is not to overcommit with our small volumes. That is something we hope to change with further plantings on our new land next door, purchased in 2015.

Our team is doing well, some changes as always and more information about them can be found on our website. Our journalistic reviews have been positive and we were amongst the 47 wines selected for the inaugural Air NZ Fine Wines of New Zealand Awards for the second time – this time the Bell Hill 2013 Pinot Noir.

Thank you for reading our news. We wish you well for the coming year and thank you for being part of Bell Hill.

Best regards,

Sherwyn and Marcel.