Pale brownish red color to a 1/4 inch clear meniscus.
Decent amount of funk initially on the nose that morphs into dirt and sweet blue flowers. High toned aromatics at the end.
Very red fruited with lots of soil, roots, mushrooms and a touch of soy. Despite the pale color there is a real intensity to this wine. Very long and layered finish that goes on and on and ends with quite a soapy finish (high pH?).
Definitely a weird wine, and not for everyone, but I find this both intellectually and artistically appealing.
This was not as good as the Angel Flower had a few months back. Similar in a lot of ways, same cherry centre, rose orange colour. Nose is distinct with lots of strawberry, cherry and orange/orange peel. On the lighter side for a pinot, but full of flavour and lots of acidity. A little bitter, pomegranate, orange note on the finish. Overall very good, but very different and not for everyone.
This is notable for its lack of lactic spoilage I found in several of the Weersig's other Pinot bottlings. That being said, this was Burgundy-like, but quite muted. Slightly cloudy, pale brick red despite nearly ideal storage. Earth, herb, tar leather and muted cherry are undersupported by a flaccid lack of acidity. It needs more of everything to justify its grossly overinflated price. I'd skip Puramid Valley based on my multiple-bottling experiences with the winery.
Taste: Very silky medium body with medium+ acidity. This is very well balanced with tones of earth, red cherries, rhubarb, raspberries, and some strawberries. There are very good tones, but this is a bit hollow on the mid-palate.
Overall: This showed a lot of promise and I was told that the vines were very young on this. I would like to see where this estate goes with more time and as the vines become more mature. This was a very individual Pinot Noir and one to watch out for.
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(Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Earth Smoke) Cloudy, bricking, medium dark red color with 5 millimeter clear meniscus; smoky, earthy, soy sauce nose; smoky, earthy, soy sauce, baked berry, brown spice palate; medium-plus finish
(Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir Earth Smoke) Light medium raspberry red color with pale meniscus; roses, baked cherry, raspberry nose laced with French oak; tasty, strawberry, ripe cherry, raspberry, mineral palate with depth and a touch of sous bois and green herb; medium-plus finish
(EARTH SMOKE Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir) Earth Angel
I lost track of the number of requests we've had for these ultra-artisinal gems so I'm going to put both out today (in the same offer) and let the chips fall where they may. Both are among a handful of the most difficult wines to secure in all of New Zealand (or the world) and the fight by Mike and Claudia Weersing to keep the flame of independence alive brims in each and every bottle. I could go on and on regarding this topic but I will surmise the "truth in a bottle" philosophy with a brief story: at a recent high-profile Pinot Noir tasting in New Zealand (possibly, the most high profile event in the country), one of Pyramid Valley's rare "home" vineyard wines, the Earth Smoke, was on full display as a foil to every other wine in New Zealand. The Earth Smoke was scrutinized by some of the most accomplished palates in the world and the consensus was that "Mike, you can't make wine like this, it's just not good for New Zealand - we need clean and focused wine to export - not cloudy, strange and, well, who knows what this is? Mike...please tell us - WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP THERE!?! We, as a consensus of your country, strongly advise you to STOP MAKING WINE LIKE THIS - it's just too, well, natural tasting?"
Thankfully Mike and Claudia walked out of that tasting with a chuckle that carried on well into the night and toward a horizon that, at present, has a faint sliver of sun creeping up from the eastern sky. The good news is that the sun is rising for them, not setting, and they smile wistfully at each other as they capture every single tingle and ray.
Today we present two wines that are arguably the finest examples of Pinot Noir produced in the Southern Hemisphere (no offense to my good friend Michael Dhillon, Craggy Range, Felton Road, Rippon or the few others that also vie for that nod). Unlike everything else, these are wines of their individual speck of soil, minerality, ladybug dance, sunlight, moonlight, lack of ozone and the faintest touch of the Weersings as they nudge along their limpid ducklings like proud but unobtrusive parents that don't have to speak with one another to understand what they've created.
If you are into Frank Cornelissen, Francois Bouchard, La Grapperie, Dettore or any of our most precious producers of their time and place, these are VERY HIGHLY RECOMMEDED as one-off potions of a higher order.
From Matt Kramer (Wine Spectator) when discussing Pyramid Valley as the only winery in the world with two wines (out of seven) on his "best of" list - full article here: http://www.winespectator.com/magazine/show/id/12812 : "Pyramid Valley Vineyards "Earth Smoke" and "Angel Flower" Pinot Noirs 2006. If New Zealand has created a finer Pinot Noir than these two single-vineyard wines from Pyramid Valley Vineyards, I haven't tasted it. The first estate-bottled wines from Americans-turned-Kiwis Mike and Claudia Weersing, these two biodynamically grown Pinot Noirs are thrilling in their intense minerality. Grown on chalky soil in the North Canterbury zone of the South Island, Earth Smoke (1.7 acres) is all black fruits and a kind of dark richness; Angel Flower (1.5 acres) is red fruits and exquisite finesse. Both wines offer a lovely tenderness. They are among the finest out-of-Burgundy experiences I've ever had." (and that includes every bottle of domestic Pinot Noir - Oregon or California - he's ever tasted - JR)
EXTREMELY LIMITED - only a few cases of each for export
This parcel is directly from the winery cellar with perfect provenance:
2008 Pyramid Valley "Earth Smoke Vineyard" Pinot Noir (price shopping just isn't the issue here, if you must check comparisons, you'll have to look at 2007 but they are routinely well over $100) From Mike Weersing: "1 tonne/acre from our east-facing home block; Deep, well structured, clay-limestone soils: 30% clay, 12-15% active lime. Biodynamic from before planting. Late April pick, hand destemmed, 10% whole cluster. Natural, spring malolactic. Fourteen months on original lees, in French barriques, 25% new; bottled unfined and unfiltered, with the moon in Leo, June 2009. Alcohol 12.7%. Production: 120 cases. Pale red/garnet, slightly cloudy, but with an inner luminescence (We should probably explain here that there exist many additions and techniques in winemaking, for bolstering color and clarity in a red wine: one can impose refrigeration and excess sulfur dioxide before ferment, dose with commercial enzymes, add tartaric acid, pump through filters, etc. We believe that wine, at its most essential and honest, involves the happy collaboration of organic grapes and native yeasts - and very little else. Our young wines therefore will often show a lighter hue than those of our peers; we're confident however that the color of our wine is largely stable, having been raised in the presence of oxygen, and not overly coddled against the real world. With aging, color discrepancies between our wines and those of producers working more chemically and invasively, typically tend to equilibrate.) - The 2008: Deep, layered, multidimensional bouquet, of small and wild red fruits - strawberry, redcurrant, sloe, griotte - but with complexities of rhubarb, dry leaves (blonde tobacco, white tea), and fresh-turned earth. For us, there's a strong sense of an entire site and season speaking, not just the grape variety. Delicate and ethereal, yet with enormous energy, and surprising structural drive: fine, melted tannins, and a saline, chalk-sponsored minerality. A wine both gentle and urgent, honest and insistent, with a wonderfully expansive finish." (I won't even bother adding to that except the fact that I sniffed this wine for almost two hours before taking a sip. It is the entire Magical Mystery Tour album in a glass - JR)
2008 Pyramid Valley "Angel Flower Vineyard" Pinot Noir (ditto on price comment above) From Mike Weersing: "1 tonne/acre from this north-facing parcel; Denser, shallower soils, still clay-limestone: 20% clay, 3-7% active lime. Also biodynamic from inception. Mid-April pick, hand destemmed, 10% whole cluster. Natural, spring malolactic. Fourteen months on original lees, in French barriques, 25% new; bottled unfined and unfiltered, with the moon in Leo, June 2009. Alcohol 12.7%. Production: 125 cases. Limpid ruby/garnet. A high-tone, mnemonic nose of dust and dried flowers, especially lavender and rose, and balsam and dried spice - something very "Grandma's wardrobe" about the bouquet here: dust and linen, potpourri and cedar, clean cotton cloth. Flavors of little red fruits, ripe and tender and wild, with again that dusty linen note. Barely touches down on the palate, but somehow feels saturating, nevertheless. Seems like a wine that one breathes as much as imbibes, with a long and evocative and insinuating finish." (this is a singular expression of wine in the world - there just isn't anything else like it, or the Earth Smoke for that matter. If you consider yourself among the deepest collectors of Pinot Noir, there is still a vacuum hole in your cellar where this belongs - JR)
Jon Rimmerman Garagiste Seattle, WA
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