Clear bright gold. Green pepper nose. Initial taste is moderate bitterness, slight citrus note....green pepper. Strongly savory, almost salty mid-palate. Spicy peppery moderately long finish. Tough food pairing; did not match well with a fresh tomato caprese salad. Odd wine. Did not care for this nearly as much as the 2007. Way too much green pepper. Day two update; Thank you Mr. Lombardi! Served refrigerator temp cold was way more pleasant, better match with cheese plate; still green pepper predominate and odd, but much better.
While this wine has a firm acid base and is in no danger of falling apart, I preferred this in its youth. Now, what previously showed as complex gooseberry, onion, jalepeno pepper etc. has integrated into a dominant green bell pepper theme with a less exciting nose. I think this wine deserves to be snappy and fresh.
Serve this cold. Pale gold color. Nose shows some citrus, but is dominated by the trademark green pepper. On the palate, the acidic structure cuts through the palate, and tempers the dirty pepper component. As this warms, you might as well purée a green bell.
The first time I tried this, I found it interesting, now I find it annoying and off putting.
Fascinating white. Tastes like you are eating spicy guacamole(jalapeno, bell pepper) while drinking a loire sauv blanc at the same time. Its tough for a white to be too green for me, but this actually is. Its like lime and lemon juice with jalapeno, tobacco, and bell pepper balanced by a hint of sweetness in a dry overall package. Nice minerality. Thought provoking, but not as enjoyable to drink. If I had to give a score, I'd say high 80s for interest. That said, not sure I'd want to drink this again anytime soon. Mid-80s at most for enjoyability.
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(SEMILLON Pyramid Valley HILLE) Pyramid Valley - IMPORTANT
Ok, so you weren't expecting something this special on a typical Tuesday morning but here goes...
The very best wines in New Zealand (and for the most part, in Australia as well) emanate from a little known enclave in North Canterbury, South Island. If you want to be ahead of the curve (and critics), here’s your chance (although Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator has not helped matters of allocation with his glowing praise).
A number of you have read about this winery on one blog site or another and they are currently one of the indie darlings of the wine industry, in a similar vein to a musical act that gains momentum from the underground buzz. In this case, the buzz is wholly justified and the evidence is a sip away.
If I told you Pyramid Valley was the most exciting overall winery in the Southern Hemisphere (not just in New Zealand), would you believe me? Of course not, that’s why I’m going to say very little and just let the wines and winery speak for themselves. To be accused of hyping this would be doing Mike and Claudia Wershing a disservice and the wines are so strong that they don’t need anyone to sell them. If you appreciate fine wine, that’s all the background you need. If you appreciate back-breaking dedication, work ethic and a consumer-first approach, this is your winery.
We are quite honored to introduce these wines to you but (as always) it’s the people that make a difference and know full well that your support of Pyramid Valley is the support of a duo that would gladly have you over for dinner and then give you the bunk that they take respite in - without any hesitation. This is why we do this and the discovery of a source this strong gives all of us hope that the wine industry still has some magical light ahead of it. It’s one thing to make a top wine or two but to be this dominant with every wine they make is a feat that is pretty much unrivaled anywhere in the world (how many wineries produce a varietally specific Pinot Blanc, Semillon, Auslese-level Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from some of the best vineyard material in their respective country? Not many).
All of the wines below receive some of the highest recommendations of the year and all should be tried with equal interest.
For more background information, please see: http://www.pyramidvalley.co.nz/about.html
Also, if you can get ahold of Stephen Bennett’s article on Pyramid Valley, “The Limestone Cowboy” from North & South Magazine, it’s a great read and it puts the extreme effort that the Wershings have put into this winery in proper perspective:
2005 Pyramid Valley “Lebecca Vineyard” Riesling EXTREMELY LIMITED This is one the most critically acclaimed white wines ever produced in New Zealand, probably more than any of the early vintages of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (see: http://www.pyramidvalley.co.nz/press.html) and it justifies the accolades. If Willie Schaeffer made light Auslese in North Canterbury it would be something like this wine. While I don't like to be difficult (maybe a little), I actually like the 2006 better, so we’re going to offer both so you can do an interesting comparison. Those of you that like to play blind-wine tricks on your friends should pay special attention:
Winery notes: “3.3 tonnes/acre from this vineyard on Wratts Road in Rapaura; deep, gravelly silts. A classic Auslese pick: ripe, golden, non-botrytis-affected bunches. Hand picked, whole-bunch pressed, lightly settled. Indigenous yeast fermentation of 4 months, which stopped naturally. Held in tank on fine lees for another 7 months. Bottled March 2006. Alcohol 8.5%, TA 8.4g/l, pH 3.10, RS 74g/l. Pale yellow-white gold. Fresh ripe pear and spiced apple aromas, with a pungent sulphidic mineral note. Rich and tactile in the mouth, generously textured, but refreshing acidity and focusing phenolics lend thrust and verve, and the salty minerality prolongs the finish.”
2006 Pyramid Valley “Lebecca Vineyard” Riesling EXTREMELY LIMITED Just for comparison’s sake...and maybe a revelation or two.
Winery notes: “3.9 tonnes/acre from this vineyard on Wratts Road in Rapaura; deep, gravelly silts. A Spatlese pick: ripe, clean, sunny fruit, with no botrytis. Hand picked, whole-bunch pressed, lightly settled. Indigenous yeast fermentation of 4 months, then cooled to achieve a harmonious sugar/acid balance. Held in tank for another 8 months. Bottled March 2007. Alcohol 8.5%, TA 8.4g/l, pH 3.10, RS 54g/l. Production 620 cases. Very pale white gold. Pear, spice, and river stone aromas, with an intriguing briny, sea spray character. Bright and focussed, delicately sweet; pithy phenolics provide shape and grain, and give a tactile impression; finishes long, clean, and minerally.”
2006 Pyramid Valley “Hille” Semillon EXTREMELY LIMITED This is amazing wine - period. Laville Haut Brion jr anyone? This is as crunchy and rocky as Semillon gets - no fat here. A wine with immense soul.
Winery Notes: “2.9 tonnes/acre from this vineyard at the very top of the Brancott valley; remorselessly stony soils and a long growing season. Hand picked in three separate tries, whole-bunch pressed, no settling, indigenous yeast fermentation in French oak, primarily 500 litre puncheons (55% new). Bottled June 2007 after 15 months on original lees. Alcohol 13.9%, pH 3.35, RS 2.0 g/l. Production: 510 cases. Pale gold with green tinges. Penetrating nose of lemon flower, kaffir lime, Vietnamese mint, chervil, candle wax. Great thrust, elongating energy, verve; an exciting combination of viscosity and racy acidity (mandarin).”
2006 Pyramid Valley “Kerner Estate” Pinot Blanc EXTREMELY LIMITED This is even more amazing, or I guess, equally amazing (if you like a touch of RS). Another brown bag delight when your friends open the Zind-Humbrecht and you want to bring out that special something they’ve never seen....
Winery Notes: “3.4 tonnes/acre from a cool, strong-soiled site on Fareham Lane in the Waihopai Valley. Hand picked, whole-bunch pressed, no settling; indigenous yeast fermentation lasting 11 months, in mostly older French oak (15% new). Bottled without fining in March 2007. Alcohol 13.9%, pH 3.40, RS 2.5 g/l. Production 350 cases. Pale yellow/gold. Yellow plum (mirabelle) and honeydew; wild- or hedgeflowers, e.g. hawthorn blossom; and a leesy, biscuity, nutty complexity from the very long ferment. Fresh, floral, delicate, but with surprising texture and volume; affable, delicious, but serious and concentrated enough to weather scrutiny (you think? - JR)”
ONE SHIPMENT ONLY directly from the source in New Zealand
(Pyramid Valley Sémillon Growers Collection Hille Vineyard) Light lemon yellow color with clear meniscus; very herbal, witch hazel, green herb nose; oily textured, herbal, lemon thyme, rosemary, lemon oil, mineral palate; medium finish (picked in 4 passes over one and a half months)
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