Weekly wine news and top wines of the week

Pyramid Valley vineyard in Waikari, North Canterbury

Pyramid Valley takes a new direction

The new owners of Pyramid Valley Vineyards in North Canterbury have announced that the winery will become a two-estate property, with vineyards in Canterbury and Central Otago.

Master of Wine Steve Smith and business partner Brian Sheth purchased Pyramid Valley in October 2017, setting up Aotearoa Fine Wine Estates (AONZ) at the same time .

Their aim is to produce North Canterbury and Central Otago wines, focusing on high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The original vineyard in Pyramid Valley Road will now be known as Waikari Estate, named after the eponymous nearby township. The second estate will be the original Lowburn Ferry property in Cromwell, Central Otago. This has been renamed Manata Estate, in homage to a local Maori legend. It’s a 26 hectare property, which will be fully planted over the next two years, mostly in Pinot Noir with smaller amounts of Chardonnay.

Both estates be fully biodynamic.


New identity for importer

Master of Wine Stephen Bennett announced the new name of his wine company this week as Mucho Gusto Wine Co.

The new identity took effect on 1 April and replaces the former name Bennett & Deller, which was the founding name of the business that he set up nearly 20 years ago with a former business partner.

His business focuses strongly on Spanish wines and other imports across wide range of prices.


Wines of the week

Here are this week’s three top drops – the wines that have most impressed me from daily tastings over the past seven days. I hope you enjoy them.

Bargain buy

4 stars

2017 Mud House The Narrows Pinot Noir $19.99, 13% ABV

How many Pinots under $20 taste as good as this? Rhetorical question.

This wine is made from grapes from the narrowing of Marlborough’s Upper Wairau Valley where north facing slopes aid ripening during Marlborough’s long, sunny autumns. Winemaker Cleighten Cornelius destemmed and cold soaked the grapes for a week then fermented them with indigenous yeasts and hand plunging to extract  moderate colour and tannins. He pressed the wine into new French oak barrels for less than a year and fined it prior to bottling.

It tastes dry, silky, lightly spicy with red fruit aromas and edgy acidity adding length to each sip.


Treat of the week

4.5 stars

2015 Guigal Cotes du Rhone $26.99

Talk about an alignment of the stars – Guigal Cotes du Rhone has always been good value when it comes to cheeky little French reds from the sunny southern Rhone, but this vintage is a noticeable step up in fruit concentration from the 2014 (which was also tasty).

The wine has improved immeasurably over the past decade. For good reason. It’s now aged at the family owned winery in Ampuis in the northern Rhone, which allows total control of the three year standard aging process prior to release for this stellar wine. It’s an interesting blend of 65% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre, which adds rich mocha and cocoa flavours, body and oomph to this exceptionally tasty red wine.

Velvety smooth, full bodied and fresh.

It is traditionally held back three years prior to release.


Reach for the stars

2017 Pegasus Bay Vergence Red $40

This is one of two edgy new wines from North Canterbury’s Pegasus Bay wines.

Vergence means the pupils of the eyes looking outward before they focus – a fitting name for an experimental wine, made 100% from Pinot Noir grapes from in Central Otago rather than North Canterbury. The grapes were 100% whole bunch fermented and sealed in a tank with a small amount of juice in an oxygen free environment where it went through intracellular fermentation (berries release CO2) during its initial week-long fermentation. Bunches were then softly foot pressed and primary fermentation continued, prior to a year’s aging French oak and bottling with no fining or filtration.

It tastes dry and full bodied with powerful  aromas of pepper, spice and dried herbs. Decanted, it drinks well now and can age for many years in correct cellaring conditions.

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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