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  • By Stephen Tanzer
    September/October 2010, IWC Issue #152, (See more on Vinous...)

    (Pyramid Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Growers Collection Calvert Vineyard Central Otago) Login and sign up and see review text.
  • By Stephen Tanzer
    September/October 2009, IWC Issue #146, (See more on Vinous...)

    (Pyramid Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Growers Collection Calvert Vineyard Central Otago) Login and sign up and see review text.


  • By Jon Rimmerman
    4/14/2010, (See more on Garagiste...)

    (CALVERT Pinot Noir Pyramid Valley) Calvert Dear Friends, Cabernet Franc is nice but judging by the plethora of emails asking for the Pinot Noir from Pyramid Valley, it's not quite as popular as the Burgundian treats vinified by Mike and Claudia Weersing. I'm listening, here you go... I tasted the 2008 Pinot Noir portfolio from Pyramid Valley (with Mike) a month or so ago. All of the wines are stunning in their own way and very different from one another (as intended). If it isn't already apparent, this is one of the top producers of the grape in the world, including the Cote d'Or. My only reservation with the 2008s is the allocation - as their fame grows, the allocations become smaller but we are humbled and thankful to receive any of their delicate nectar - I'm sure you will be as well. With that, let's begin... The wine we offer today is made from Pinot Noir...and a bit of wild yeast - that's it. Maybe that sounds like a strange thing to say as it's called "Pinot Noir" but check the ingredient label the next time you embark on a bottle of New World wine - oh yeah, wine doesn't have an ingredient label...but it should. The good news is that this wine doesn't need one - it contains grapes and the tireless/endless work by Mike and Claudia - nothing else. The organic/BIO Calvert vineyard was first made famous by Felton Road and Pyramid Valley has upped the ante with aplomb. I'm sure you've heard the term "sensual" when the magnetism of Pinot Noir is described but this wine brings that association to a new level. Captivating from the first whiff, the engaging citrus and red fruit focus of the 2008 Calvert is as pure as it gets. Combine that with a sultry texture, a pinpoint expression of site-place and the oh-so lovely glycerol sap that comes from kid-glove pressing and you have an engaging experience indeed. This wine is a is a potential game-changer for New World Pinot Noir and it's still reasonably priced for the genre (it should be $50-70). A potpourri of power, seduction, wild flowers, terroir, transparency and mystery give the 2008 Calvert a leg-up on 99% of the Pinot Noir produced in the New World. If you collect Aubert, Marcassin or any of the other domestic big-guns, I urge you to try this wine for a welcome foil (not to mention at a fraction of the price). A real wine (not a chemistry experiment) that doesn't rely on its wood for an impression - it reflects the tender handing of the grape with no additions, manipulation or human deviance of any kind. In addition (according to Mike) it appears to be getting better and better with each month in bottle - by next winter, look out... From Mike and Claudia Weersing: "2008 Calvert Pinot Noir: A sufficient, but small-berried harvest from this beautiful Bannockburn site, gratefully received after the penury of the poor-flowering 2007 vintage. Managed biodynamically by the consistently brilliant team at Felton Road. Soils of schist and quartz sand. Ruby/black, with purple tinges. Thyme branch, creosote, raspberry puree; a note of bruised blackberries in fresh cream. Reelingly floral: hedgerose, nasturtium, lavender. An intriguing muscat/orange zest component - musk this year in place of spice. Rich and broad, expansive, alluring and inviting without becoming profligate; very ripe, something almost essential, but nothing reduced or preserved; really saturates the palate and senses, in a lush but invigorating way. May well tread the line between lust and listen, but there's content here for anyone inclined to attend." Now that's a tasting note. For more information on Pyramid Valley, please see the original Cabernet Franc offer from a few weeks ago (reprinted below). 2008 Pyramid Valley Pinot Noir "Calvert Vineyard" (Central Otago) Please give us the maximum number up to 24/person and we will allocate accordingly (please keep in mind, the US allocation of Pyramid Valley Pinto Noir is way down from previous years so please let Niki know any interest at your earliest convenience) Thank you, Jon Rimmerman Garagiste Seattle, WA NZ8190 ******************************** (Pyramid Valley background info from the previous offer): Top of the Pyramid Dear Friends, Let's get this out of the way: Pyramid Valley is currently New Zealand's finest winery. There are others that produce a single entrant of equal stature (such as Rippon) but no one produces a line-up from A-to-Z like Mike and Claudia Weersing. In fact, few wineries in the world do so. With multiple climates, soil structures, elevations, islands, ferry crossings and general mayhem to deal with on a daily basis, this winery takes us on a high-level tour of New Zealand equaled by no one else. From Spatlese to Pinot Blanc, to Cabernet Franc to Pinot Noir (not not mention a new Sauternes-like wine that is going to re-define what can be done with Semillon), Pyramid Valley is a serious candidate for the most diverse winery in the world - all while playing at the top register. They expose us to one of the richest landscapes of terroir anyone could hope to imagine and, if "understanding" is your goal with wine, the often limpid and reflective examples delicately placed into bottle by Mike and Claudia will go a long way toward anyone's study of life, relationships and all things vinous. Circa 2010, the top of the pyramid is in sight and they've only just begun. I've waxed poetic on this winery in the past and taken many punches from numerous pundits that accuse me of over-hyping wine that is no better than, say, Felton Road. To you I say phooey. That is missing the point. This is about the people, the places, their dedication to an interconnected system of the world - one that includes an eco-sensitive realization that we are all, indeed, in this together. This is about Mike driving 12 hours in an old old Airstream so he could sleep by the side of Hwy 1 near Blenheim while he sat, watched and waited for each of your grapes to ripen perfectly - precisely as nature intended. This is about an abstinence of chemicals, additions, yeast, intervention or the unwanted hand of man altering the course of vinous events. In the end, this is about your few moments with the Weersings and their children of each vintage. If you ask them, this is about you. If you met Mike and Claudia everything above would be obvious and endearing at the same time. They care about every detail and let's just leave it at that. Call them friends, partners in crime, lovers, wanderers - whatever you wish - these are people of life and its reflective direction. These are people many of us wish we could be. As astute with the pen as they are with the grape, for a peek inside their literary wine world, see here: While mostly known for world-class Pinot Noir, it would be too easy to start there (they've piled up so many Pinot Noir accolades at this point, it's moot to count them all - including two of Matt Kramer's Wines of the Year last year, the only producer in the world to have 2 wines out of a short list of 7). So, forget Pinot Noir today and let's talk about another red varietal that Pyramid Valley is set to redefine: Cabernet Franc. From a small parcel (less than 2 acres) of Franc grown in a prime section of Hawke's Bay (North Island) this is Mike and Claudia's pet project and it's a rousing success. Keep in mind, Pyramid Valley is based in North Canterbury (South Island) of New Zealand so it requires 15-20 hours of travel to farm this special plot by hand (which they do with all of their vineyards - imagine a mother and father with a son or daughter on a college basketball team, following them around the US to watch the games - it's a similar non-stop tour for the Weersings with their vineyard sources spread across both islands of NZ). There is no going home at night (see Airstream comment above), no going home on the weekends - when the Howell Family vineyard needs attention, they are there for the duration. My tasting note of this wine would serve no justice - I will say it is an amazing example that Pierre Breton or even Clos Rougeard would be proud of. They would appreciate the "new" world quality of the wine with a velvet meets rock and wet cement heart that warms a Loire enthusiast's sense of pride. This strictly organic wine is big, even huge wine by Mike and Claudia's standards (think 2005 Chinon mixed with Hawke's Bay and a touch of Bill Harlan) but it is a new definition for a country that has stumbled (more often than not) with Bordeaux varietals. Contrary to what you may read, Mike does not push any wine to achieve any level of ripeness, he follows the biodynamic calendar and picks when the balance is in the atmosphere as well as the wine. Never made to a formula or what they teach you at Roseworthy or UC-Davis, it is what it is...and that is deep, dark, exotic, mineral infused and grand: Mike Weersing: 2007 Howell Family Cabernet Franc (280 cases, hand picked, no additions, bottled on the summer equinox 2008): Deep ruby/black, with purple lights. Hugely perfumed: fruit, violets and furred game, and a tapenade-like mix of olive, black pepper, and herbs, especially savory and thyme. Black fruits turn redder with air: blackberry morphing to raspberry. Prettily floral and just slightly feral at the same time: hare served at a table set with irises. Layered and lush, both dense and plush: a weighted pile of velvet. Far-reaching flavours of raspberry, clove, bramble and brine; and mouth-coating, powder-fine tannins. Surprisingly fresh and cool, given the ripeness of the fruit. Finishes fine and concise and long, after the almost bawdy mid-palate sweetness." VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (I guess that was obvious from the above missive?) ONE SHIPMENT ONLY directly from the winery cellar with perfect provenance 2007 Pyramid Valley "Howell Family" Cabernet Franc - SOLD OUT (this wine is quite difficult to find except a few cases spread around NZ) Thank you, Jon Rimmerman Garagiste Seattle, WA

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