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Entries in direct imports (30)

Monday
Jul292013

{Terra Ignota}: Introducing New Direct Import - Dalwhinnie Estate

I am very pleased to announce the latest partnership in our direct import program: Dalwhinnie Estate. Situated high in the Pyrenees region of Victoria, Australia, this estate is well know for producing some of the finest Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in country. I had previously encountered the wines while working in London, but they have suffered a prolonged absence from the US market, until now!

Dalwhinnie has consistently proven to produce wines of majestic power, exquisite depth and profound complexity. Their wines have a very good track record for mid to long term cellaring. All of these attributes have garnered them huge scores and critical acclaim from the world’s top wine writers with multiple 95-97+ point scores. Their production is quite small; especially the single block bottlings, and we have taken our full allocation of these wines so don't miss out.

Dalwhinnie’s estate is a unique parcel of land in the small, remote sub-region of the Pyrenees. Growing at around 2000ft in elevation, Dalwhinnie’s beautiful 18 hectares of vines inhabit an amphitheatre like bowl between mountain peaks. These vines planted back in 1976 grow in very hard and hungry soils with lots of exposed rock and gravel left from alluvial mining in the early 1800’s. The poor soils provide naturally low yields and excellent concentration of flavor and powerful structure. Due to the high elevation, big diurnal swings in temperature helps retain a fantastic brightness and freshness in the wines despite thier richness and intensity.

Most of the estate is planted to Shiraz (Dalwhinnie’s focus), yet exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay is also produced. After taking over from his father in 1983, winemaker and co-owner, David Jones has brought great consistency and a steady hand to the property. His focus is undeniably in the vineyard believing heavily in the importance of careful pruning, vine management and natural balance. Within the cellar he simply teases out the innate quality of the grapes and their encapsulated terroir. The winemaking is refined and elegant. The resulting wines are pure and gracefully powerful.

2010 provided superlative growing conditions especially for red wines in much of South Australia and Victoria was no exception. It is very fortuitous perhaps that our new relationship with Dalwhinnie just so happened to coincide with such a momentous vintage. The 2011 vintage was very cool and resulted in exceptional white wines for careful producers. Below are some of my notes on each wine as well as some points and tasting notes from James Halliday and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:

2011 Dalwhinnie “Moonambel” Chardonnay Pyrenees, Victoria* ($32.99) 95JH

From the very cool 2011 vintage this wine has great drive and focus. Delicious crunchy orchard fruit, fresh grains, toast, malt. Good flinty mineral tones. Bright but finely balanced acidity. Exceptional persistence on the palate.

James Halliday: 95 points "David Jones has long been the leader of chardonnay in the Pyrenees, and this rendition is full of energy and life; the bouquet reveals lemon pith, smoky oak and struck quartz; the palate is racy and taut, with the acidity and the strong mineral personality working seamlessly to a long and even conclusion."

2010 Dalwhinnie “Moonambel” Cabernet Sauvignon Pyrenees, Victoria* ($39.99) 95 JH, 92+ RP

This wine has a lifted nose of Black Currant, Cassis, crushed mint and graphite. On the palate it is richly textured, powerful and juicy. Lovely balance between fruit and structure with ample ultra-fine tannins providing good persistence and long cellaring potential. Approachable now or hold until 2022.

James Halliday: 95 points "Classic Dalwhinnie style with abundant aromas, fruit on the fore-palate likewise; tightens up on the finish with tannin grip that will relax as the years go by." 

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 92+ points "Deep garnet-purple colored, offers a nose of cassis, wild blueberries, toasty oak and yeast extract with subtle suggestions of pencil lead and chocolate. Full-bodied with a nice backbone of medium to firm, grainy tannins and very crisp acidity, it has a long savory finish. Delicious in this youthful stage, it should develop gracefully and drink to 2022+."

2010 Dalwhinnie “Moonambel” Shiraz Pyrenees, Victoria ($49.99) 96 JH, 94 RP

Combination of many different top parcels across the estate. This Shiraz shows deep, saturated, dark red fruits, baking spice, vanilla and clove. Medium to full bodied, long, structured, elegant yet intense. Great already but will hold until 2020+.

James Halliday: 96 points "Typical deep crimson-purple; intense dark berry fruit aromas join with quality French oak on the bouquet, the svelte palate adding perfectly balanced and integrated tannins; top class finish and aftertaste; purity and power." 

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 94 points "Deep garnet-purple colored, scented of blackberries, creme de cassis, cedar and black pepper plus touches of dried herbs, violets and licorice. Medium to full-bodied with plenty of mouth-filling black berry and spice flavors, it has got a solid foundation of medium to firm grainy tannins and enlivening acidity, finishing long with some vanilla and cedar notes coming through. Drink this one now to 2020+."

2010 Dalwhinnie “Southwest Rocks” Shiraz Pyrenees, Victoria*($69.99) 96 JH 95 RP

This is a single block selection from a portion of the vineyard with particularly rocky soil and exposed boulders from old mining exploits. Singled out for it's unique character, this is seriously dark and brooding Shiraz. Medium bodied and concentrated yet pure and fresh; ripe but not the slightest bit jammy. Long silky but considerable tannin structure provides great cellaring potential. Now-2023+

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 95 points "Deep garnet-purple colored, an intense, complex nose of ripe black cherries, black raspberries and roses with underlying hints of toast, nuts, baking spices and smoked meat. Medium-bodied with amazing intensity and tension in the mouth, it has a medium to firm level of grainy tannins, very crisp acid and a long finish. Made for the long haul, consider holding onto it for a year or two and drink 2014 to 2024+."

2010 Dalwhinnie “The Pinnacle” Shiraz Pyrenees, Victoria*($69.99) 96 JH, 97+ RP

The highest and steepest parcel on the estate. Immense power and intensity. The most muscular and saturated of the Dalwhinnie wines. Black fruit with some savory meaty elements. Bitter-sweet chocolate and all spice. Mouthcoating but not overextracted or sweet in anyway. Lovely freshness and purity for such a concentrated wine.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 97+ points "Very deep purple-black colored, aromas of creme de cassis, violets, bruchetta, yeast extract and roasted nuts with whiffs of mocha, menthol, potpourri, aniseed and cloves. Medium to full-bodied and packed with taut, muscular black berry and savory flavor layers, it has a firm structure of grainy tannins and lively acid, finishing very long. Consider drinking it 2014 to 2025+."

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, NZ / Aussie Specialist

***

 Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday
Jun052013

{Terra Ignota} K&L Exclusive Direct Import of Spectacular Te Mata Estate Wines

During my travels around New Zealand in 2011 I visited over 50 wineries. In general I was amazed by the quality and diversity of the wine I encountered. Marlborough was great, Central Otago too, but I think it was Hawke’s Bay on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island that really blew me away. The cornerstone of that revelation was most definitely the wines of Te Mata Estate. 

The famous landmark of Te Mata Peak that towers over the winery

I was so impressed that on my return to K&L I worked hard to develop a relationship with them and am pleased to say that we are now the exclusive importer of the Te Mata wines to the USA. Te Mata Estate is New Zealand’s oldest family owned winery. Founded in 1892 by an English immigrant, the winery still uses the original plots nestled into the lower slopes of Te Mata Peak, a dramatic rocky out crop that towers above the flat plains of Hawke’s Bay. The vines grow only a couple miles from the ocean and are perfectly tempered by cool sea breezes. These rocky free draining soils are perfect for balanced, finessed wines but with the concentration and power I have come to expect from Hawke’s Bay.

The orignal Coleraine Vineyard first established in 1892

Te Mata’s wines are held in very high regard and many immediately sell out upon release from the winery. Their four most iconic wines have long been regarded as the most prestigious and awarded wines in New Zealand. The long lived, Bordeaux like Coleraine. The undeniably rich and delicious Awatea. The complex, layered, very Burgundian Elston Chardonnay and perhaps the most sought after all, the stunning Bullnose Syrah. We have also brought some of their other estate wines to the US as part of a K&L exclusive direct import. These wines are truly the pinnacle of what New Zealand can produce.

2009 Te Mata Estate “Coleraine” Bordeaux Blend, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $49.99

This is a stunningly complex and delicious Bordeaux style blend that takes its name from the tiny vineyard directly adjacent to the winery. The Coleraine has been produced since 1982 and is regarded as one of New Zealand's finest and most age worthy wines. Quite compellingly the wine is made each year using a blind tasting and blending of the estates fine parcels of Bordeaux varietals.

The winemaker describes it as “saturated magenta in color with concentrated aromas of blackcurrants, spice and dark old fashioned roses. The palate opens with the dense sweet, dark berry fruits indicative of a great year. The focus quickly turns to rich fine tannins that fill the mouth, leaving a lasting impression of a wine of significant ageing ability. Coleraine '09 [is] considered amongst the greatest Coleraines. A blend of 52% cabernet sauvignon, 43% merlot, and 5% cabernet franc, it will continue to develop in bottle and provide great enjoyment up to 15 years from harvest.” My personal notes echoed these, being particularly impressed with the balance between rich dark fruits and a firm structure. This is clearly a wine for the long haul but with just enough extraction to please the bigger cab drinkers and those who enjoy riper Bordeaux vintages such as 2000, 2005, 2009.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate also gave great reviews to this wine awarding 95 points and writing:

“Blackberry, dark chocolate, a touch of sloe and liquorice. The finesse is there on the long, languid finish. A masculine Coleraine with great intensity and promise for the future.”

James Suckling writes: “94 points, this is an awesome Bordeaux blend with light mint, flowers and dark fruits. Currants and slightly dried fruit. Full-bodied, with layers of ripe tannins and long, long finish. Still slightly chewy. Needs another three to four years to come around.”

2010 Te Mata Estate “Awatea” Cabernet Blend, Hawke’s Bay NZ $29.99 

This is the 2nd wine to the Coleraine, made in a slightly more plush, drink earlier style and represents an excellent value for a remarkable bottle of wine. Te Mata Estate believes this to be one of the finest Awatea’s it has produced to date. Winemaker’s notes: “2010 Awatea is a dark magenta colour with aromas of fresh blackberry and raspberry infused with rosemary and sandalwood. The palate is pure, powerful, and well balanced, with mineral freshness and fine powdery tannin warmth contributing to its length. Awatea ’10 is a blend of 42% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 12% cabernet franc and 6% petit verdot. It will continue to evolve in bottle, providing great enjoyment up to 10 years from harvest. It is a natural partner for savoury red meat dishes and hard cheeses.”

I found this wine to be very expressive right now with a touch more generosity. Dark lush fruit and spice box with wonderful energy and brightness on the palate. A dynamic wine that evolves beautifully in the glass. The perfect steak wine! Truly over achieving against any other $30 Cab blend I would put in it’s category.

The 2010 Awatea has not been professionally reviewed yet, however the 2009 garnered 92 from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

2009 Te Mata Estate “Bullnose” Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $31.99 

This wine sells out immediately upon release in New Zealand, it’s almost a national treasure! Made from a tiny, steep single vineyard, the winemaker writes: “An impressive deep magenta colour, with aromas and flavours of raspberry and sweet cherry, baking spices and lavender. The rich palate displays velvety tannins underpinning plum and cream notes, leading to a long, elegant finish. It will continue to evolve in bottle for eight years from harvest.” This is a stunningly elegant and perfumed Syrah again playing a perfect balance between old world structure and beautifully pure new world fruit.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awards 94 points and writes: “Produced since 1992, the vines for the Bullnose Syrah are now 20 years old. Purple-black in color, the 2009 Bullnose Syrah gives up a pronounced nose of blueberry compote and blackberry pie filling with hints of cloves, moss covered bark, allspice, toast and aniseed with a whiff of white pepper. Medium bodied and concentrated in the mouth, it gives a good structure of crisp acid and firm, ripe, rounded tannins, finishing long and peppery. Drink it now to 2018+.

2011 Te Mata Estate “Elston” Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $29.99

Once more finding a perfect balance between the restraint and mineral intrigue of great white Burgundy and the slightly more exotic fruit expression of New Zealand. This wine is fascinating as it tip toes across the palate and goes on and on in the finish. The winemaker describes it beautifully: “Elston ‘11 has a brilliant, green gold colour, and lovely aromas of nectarine and white peach, with a background of oatmeal and cedar. It is elegant and intense, with a mineral tension in the extended palate that suggests considerable cellaring potential. Elston ‘11 will continue to evolve in bottle for five years + from harvest and matches well with full flavoured dishes based on seafood, poultry and white meats, as well as soft ripened cheeses."

The 2011 vintage has not yet been professionally reviewed, but the 2010 garnered 95 points from James Suckling with him writing “This is really fabulous with insane density like grand cru Burgundy. Full and layered with great concentration and structure. Lemon rind, apple pie and mineral undertones. It's all about tension and structure here. Needs time to come around. Better in 2015.”

I think the 2010 is a better wine than the 2009 with more brightness and minerality. This wine is considered one of New Zealand’s most prestigious Chardonnays and I urge you to try it.

2011 Te Mata Estate “Cape Crest” Sauvignon Blanc, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $19.99

 

One of New Zealand's top Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blancs. The Winemaker describes it as “fermented and aged in a combination of new and used French oak barrels. Eight months aging on the lees lends this Bordeaux-style blend (85% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Semillon, and 4% Sauvignon Gris) incredible mid-palate richness and length on the finish. It reveals intense aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, pear, and blossom in the nose, with accents of buttered toast and vanilla. The palate is layered and creamy, with fine acid structure and a very long lingering nutty finish.” Very classy stuff and a gives a whole new meaning to most peoples understanding of Kiwi Sauv Blanc.

James Suckling writes: 92 points “This is like top white Bordeaux with lemon / lime, green apple and mineral character. Great intensity. Full body with lovely balance of fruit and oak. Excellent finish. Drink now.

Jancis Robinson writes: 17/20 Brilliantly forthright oak, like all-butter shortbread. Lemon citrus and vegetal notes present on the palate, good restraint despite the potent nose. This could be Graves or Pessac-Léognan.

Last but not least is the wonderful if not slightly quirky 2012 Te Mata Estate Gamay Noir, Hawke’s Bay, NZ $16.99.

Made in a very convincing Beaujolais style with partial carbonic fermentation, this is such a fun and delicious wine. Spicy, crunchy red berries with silky, supple tannins and just a whiff of cracked black pepper to distinguish it as a Hawke’s Bay wine. Perfect for summer BBQ with chicken and fish. Once you try one this will be a new favorite I’m sure!

James Suckling agrees saying: “90 points, amazing Beaujolais style to this wine with grapy, wet earth character. It's medium-bodied, with fresh acidity and a long finish. So much going on here. One of the only producers in New Zealand of Gamay. It was started in 1995. Cuttings came from Beaujolais. Lovely texture to it. Drink now 

Please check out these wines. They are all truly remarkable. Any feedback will be truly appreciated.

 Cheers

 -Ryan Woodhouse, Aussie/NZ Specialist

 ***

Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday
May072013

{Terra Ignota} New Wines Direct from Pyramid Valley Vineyards, NZ

While we have been working with the wonderful wines of Pyramid Valley Vineyards for quite some time now, a new direct purchase deal means we can now offer these magnificent staff favorites for an even better price! Pyramid Valley is the labor of love for Mike and Claudia Weersing. Orignally from the Bay Area and with family still in Pescadero, Mike and Claudia have been working hard, living and producing wines in New Zealand since 1996. Mike originally made wine at the esteemed Neudorf Estate in Nelson before he and Claudia bought the property in North Canterbury. The Pyramid Valley Vineyard wines are defined by Organic and Biodynamic viticulture, a very non-invasive winemaking style and have an intense focus on integrity, sense of place and reflection of vintage.

The very steep Angel Flower Block with Lion's Tooth Block in the background

The wines are divided into a “Growers Collection” and “Home Vineyard” single block ranges. The Growers Collection is made up of single vineyard bottlings sourced from growers with whom Mike and Claudia work very closely. The selected vineyards are farmed Biodynamically and to their own very strict quality standards. Many of the wines represent very unique and quirky varietals not commonly seen in New Zealand such as Savagnin Rose, Semillon, Pinot Blanc and Cabernet Franc. They also make great Riesling and obviously a selection of Pinot Noirs from different regions and sub-regions of NZ.

The "Home Block" wines are from Mike and Claudia's tiny estate in North Canterbury. Vines are planted in very high density with minute spacing to make sure yields are concentrated. Most blocks are on steep slopes making the farming, which is meticulous and all by hand, a very laborious job. The vineyards have been organic and biodynamic since inception. Each individual block is named after the wildflowers that thrive there. These single block wines are microcosms of each section of this unique estate. The wines show remarkable nuances of flavor and texture due to slight differences in orientation, soil and aspect.

Minimal intervention wine making is often referred to as a "hands-off" style, however I might argue that Pyramid Valley employ an intensely "hands-on" style of production. The difference being that these are very “green thumbed” hands. Everything is done by hand, (and foot, the grapes are foot trodden for gentle extraction) down to hand de-stemming each bunch of Pinot Noir. The wines are truly lovingly crafted pieces of natural artistry.

Pyramid Valley Team Hand De-stemming Home Block Pinot Noir

Below are detailed notes notes on the various wines we have from Pyramid Valley. I really encourge you to check out these wines. They are something very special and represent the absolute pinnacle of artisinal winemaking.

2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards "Angel Flower" Pinot Noir, North Canterbury, New Zealand $49.99

An enchanting wine, very floral nose of dried rose petals and lavender. Bright high-toned red fruits on the nose lead to slightly richer sappier dark red fruits on the palate. This wine has compelling energy and vibrancy. Crisp acidity and grainy tannins mean this wine will hold in the cellar. This is definitely more a Burgundy drinker’s wine than a modern fruit forward style. The wine has great texture and an authentic sense of place. This is a very interesting bottle that deserves some reflection and consideration if it is to be fully appreciated.

James Suckling 95 points and featured in his Top Ten Wines of the World for 2012. “Aromas of roses and sweet plums with strawberry. Full body, with super fine tannins and beautiful fruit. Silky and fine with such beauty. This is insane with a rust and iron character. Fascinating. Drink or hold.

Winery Notes: "1.1 tonnes per acre from this north-facing parcel; ten year old vines. Denser, shallower soils, still clay-limestone: 20% clay, 3-7% active lime. Biodynamic from before planting. Late April pick, entirely hand destemmed, 25% foot crushed. Ambient soak of 5-7 days, warm vineyard yeast fermentation (33C), 27-28 day cuvaison. Natural, spring malolactic. Ten months on original lees, in French barriques, 15% new, then held a further six months in tank. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, in September 2011. Alcohol 13.7%. Production: 180 cases.  Good deep ruby. Flowers, red fruits, and bags of spice on the forward bouquet. Lush but crisp, with very fresh fruit, and all that spice. Very long and elegant palate.

Soil Profile of Earth Smoke Block

 

 

2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards "Earth Smoke" Pinot Noir, North CanterburyNew Zealand $49.99

The Earth Smoke is very slightly my preferred bottling from the Home Vineyard offerings. I love the depth and intrigue this wine brings to the table. The fruit, especially aromatically, is more reserved than the Angel Flower block; however the wine has awesome layers of detail and interest. Dense earthy tones and the rich limestone soil show through in this wine. The whole thing is more guarded and veiled yet within that subtlety there is ample finesse and character. A really soulful bottling that will truly engage Burgundy drinkers and shows the complexity and subtly that New Zealand Pinot can have.

James Suckling 94 points: “A fabulous nose of dried strawberries, plums and hints of smoke and bacon. Full body, with beautiful tannins and acidity. Super intense and beautiful. Long and gorgeous. No new oak. Better in 2016.”

Winery Notes: "1.4 tonnes per acre from our east-facing home block; ten year old vines. Deep, well structured, clay-limestone soils: 30% clay, 12-15% active lime. Also biodynamic from inception. Late April pick, hand destemmed, 25% foot crushed. Ambient soak of 5-7 days, warm vineyard yeast fermentation (33C), 27-28 day cuvaison. Natural, spring malolactic. Ten months on original lees, in French barriques, 15% new, then held a further six months in tank.  Bottled unfined and unfiltered, in September 2011. Alcohol 13.2%. Production: 250 cases.  Similar robe to the Angel Flower, perhaps a bit deeper. Very engaging and complex nose of soil, wild fruits, and spiced orange peel. Real power and lovely texture in the mouth, and again wilder and more earthy than the Angel Flower.

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Calvert" Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand $34.99

The Calvert vineyard is shared between three of NZ’s leading Pinot Noir producers: Pyramid Valley, Craggy Range and Felton Rd. The vineyard is farmed Biodynamically (by Felton Rd) and each partner gets an equal split of the fruit to craft the way they wish. Pyramid Valley’s philosophy is based around as little intervention as possible to let the site speak for itself. This wine shows classic Central Otago power and muscle without compromising balance and elegance of texture. I found the wine to be quite black fruited but with raspberry high-toned notes peaking through. The wine has compact layers of flavor that I suspect come from its schist soil origins. It really unfolds in the glass showing spice and sweet crushed herbs with more air. The wine finishes with remarkably fresh acidity despite the dark fruit succulence and ripe tannin structure. This is great wine especially for those seeking to try some New Zealand Pinot whilst transitioning from more dense California styles.

Stephen Tanzer 92 points: “Good medium-deep red.  Knockout nose combines raspberry, smoke, spices and loamy soil tones.  Fat, sweet, sexy and rich, but with ripe, harmonious acidity giving shape to the red berry and underbrush flavors.  Velvety in the middle and nicely sappy on the long, sweet finish, which features thoroughly ripe, smooth tannins.  A liquid confection.”

Winery Notes: "A sufficient, but small-berried harvest from this beautiful Bannockburn site. Managed biodynamically by the consistently brilliant team at Felton Road. Soils of schist and quartz sand. Fruit is all hand picked, 75% destemmed, thus 25% whole cluster, transferred by gravity to tank. Ambient soak of 3-5 days, warm indigenous yeast fermentation, 27-28 day cuvaison. Natural, spring malolactic. Fourteen months on original lees in French barriques (25% new); bottled unfined and unfiltered on the winter Solstice, June 2010. Alcohol 14.3%, pH 3.71. Production: 450 cases.  Lifted and luscious at the same time, with a broad spectrum of fruit and plant aromatics: from pomegranate through redcurrant jelly and fresh plum to raspberry; beyond juniper berry to crushed thyme to bramble to bark. Also a teriyaki/root beer note like an umami version of the spice we so often see from this site. Broad and enveloping, yet with ripe and bracing and infiltrating tannin. Finishes with a long and lovely interplay between structure and succulence."

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Cowley Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand $29.99

This Pyramid Valley Growers Collection bottling comes from one of my favorite sites within the region of Marlborough. The Cowley vineyard is nestled into the hills rising away to the south of the Wairau plains that make up most of Marlborough’s wine country. Here on the north facing slopes the soils turn from alluvial gravel to mixes of clay and decomposed bed rock, glacial deposits and volcanic uplift. The site produces complex pinot of real depth and character. The 2009 bottling has quite a rich dark fruit edge that illustrates the ripeness of the vintage. A seductive silky wine showing crushed plums, and red berries mingling with some freshly ground spices. Very drinkable and crowd pleasing in style, whilst retaining that authentic vibrancy that Pyramid Valley wines have in abundance.

Stephen Tanzer 91 points: “Slightly hazy medium red. Musky aromas of raspberry, coffee and smoke. Lush, silky and sweet, with velvety plum and earth flavors spreading out to saturate the palate. Seamless pinot with excellent depth and sweet tannins.”

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards "Lion's Tooth" Chardonnay, North Canterbury, New Zealand $39.99

Fantastic Chardonnay. This wine has a real drive and energy. It shows rich orchard fruits, poached pears and some depth given from a lovely grain or barley character which I can only assume is from a healthy dose of sur lie ageing. This is quite a rich wine but a bright acidity keeps all that texture and power taught, linear and focused. Treat this wine like a good white Burgundy and it will reward you in kind. This really shows the potential of New Zealand to produce top class Chardonnay.

Winery Notes: "20hl/ha from this steeply inclined, east facing home block. Gorgeous soils, with nut and crumb structure and great mineral fertility: 30% clay, 15-20% active lime. Again, biodynamic from inception. Early May pick, whole bunch pressed; no settling, no SO2. Vineyard yeast ferment of 15 months, in used French oak, primarily 450-500L puncheons. Natural, spring malolactic. Eleven months on lees in barrel, then transferred to a variable capacity tank for a further 9 months; bottled unfined and unfiltered in December 2011. Alcohol 14.5%. Production: 100 cases. More golden yet, still bright and brilliant. More complex, fermentative aromas: less fruit and leaf and flower than the Field of Fire, rather popcorn, brioche, grilled nuts.”

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Howell Family" Cabernet Franc, Hawke’s Bay New Zealand $28.99

Phenomenal Cab Franc. This wine draws the perfect line between the more lean and herbal Cab Francs of the Loire and the bigger and more dense California versions that are out there. It has plenty of green tobacco and freshly crushed herb varietal character but also rich, concentrated dark red fruit and spice. Some fine oak nuances round out the wine which has great length and balance on the palate. This wine comes from a very interesting sub-region of Hawke's Bay know as the Red Metals Triangle for its red, iron-rich gravelly soils. These complex soils produce low, concentrated yields and impart a fascinating mineral tinge to the wine produced here. There is so much complexity and intrigue here all cloaked beneath a rich and crowd pleasing style. Yum!

Robert Parker 91+ points: “Medium-deep ruby-purple in color, the 2009 Howell Family Vineyard Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Franc is a little closed, offering delicate to moderately pronounced notes of red currants and red cherries over nuances of black pepper, moss covered tree bark and game. Ripe and rich in the medium bodied mouth, it has medium-firm silky tannins, crisp acidity and a long savory finish. Drink it 2012 to 2017+. Mike and Claudia Weersing continue to work nature’s magic on their wines. The results are truly unique wines that can only come from these creative hands working out of this pretty patch just inland from the Waipara. Even more exciting is that the quality straight across the estate and growers labels just gets better and more consistent each year from this relatively new operation.”

2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Twin Valleys" Savagnin Rose, Marlborough, New Zealand $19.99

When I learnt Pyramid Valley had a Savgagnin Rose they wanted us to taste I had absolutely no idea what to expect…Savagnin Rose? Turns out that this is a most fascinating floral, aromatic and richly textured wine. One of the most interesting wines I have tasted this year. The wine definatley shows its relation to Gewurztraminer in those 

Winery Notes: "We were thrilled when Peter and Anne Reed called us about their small parcel of this extremely rare variety. Savagnin Rose is the non-musqué progenitor of Gewurztraminer: it is less gaudily aromatic, and retains fresher acidity. We prize its delicately spicy, floral nature, as well as its bold structure and elegant strength. 4.1 tonnes/acre from this lifted Fareham Lane block, in a corner of Marlborough we believe produces exceptional aromatic wines. Whole bunch pressed, no settling, no fining agents. Indigenous fermentation of 15 months, in 500L puncheons, 5% new. Bottled on the spring equinox, September 2011. Alcohol 13.9%, pH 3.52, TA 4.3 g/l, RS 25g/l. Production 410 cases. Brilliant gold. Very delicate and subtly perfumed, with brown, yellow and ochre spice turmeric, curry, sumac, saffron and equally fine floral notes, especially rose. Still some light leesy fermentative notes, from a very long gestation in barrel. Juicy and freshly sweet, like a Golden Queen peach. Feels lush and bright simultaneously, as ripe acid and girdling phenolics lend focus and drive to the luscious finish. Really like a perfect, yellow, tree-ripened fruit a mirabelle, say, or an Anjou pear.

2010 Pyramid Valley Vineyards "Kerner Estate" Pinot Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $18.99

An excellent growing season yielded small, clean berries from Pyramid Valley's Kerner Estate Vineyard for this 2010 Pinot Blanc. The grapes were hand-harvested and whole-cluster pressed and fermented on native yeast in old French oak puncheons. From the winery: "Pale yellow gold. Leesy/biscuity fermentative notes, with a lemon custard sort of high-tone comfort; also a subtle, blossomy sweetness, like alyssum. Really quite elegant and understated: after the complex boisterousness of the 2009, this marks a return to delicacy and ethereal grace. Light and bright and lively, despite its adamant phenolic structure and intensity of flavour. Perhaps the most poised and complete wine we’ve seen from this lovely block."

James Suckling 90 points: "This Pinot Blanc shows lovely floral and melon character with full body, good acidity and a clean finish. Balanced and chalky."

Pyramid Valley Vineyards under snow

2009 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection "Rose Vineyard" Riesling, Marlborough $21.99

Robert Parker 90 points: “The 2009 Rose Vineyard Marlborough Riesling gives a chalky, mineral nose with some straw and lime leaf plus a little citrus zest and freshly made bread dough. Made to a relatively dry style, it has a medium body and lively acidity cutting through the elegant fruit, finishing long and steely. Approachable now, it should drink well to 2016+”

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoy the wines!

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, NZ / Aussie Specialist

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 Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!