Our small vineyard nestles in a very sunny, warm and frost-free (when it matters) bowl between The Shearer’s Cottage and our Périgord black truffière. We planted 300 syrah vines on the slope in front of the cottage in summer 2001/2, and a year later a further 900 pinot noir vines to complete the vineyard. It’s a unique little terroir, with black high pH rendzina soils lying over solid limestone (on the slope), and shattered lime and loess elsewhere. Wine has been produced since 2008, and the 2009 pinot noir was the first public release.
Annual production is roughly 60 cases of pinot noir, and a half barrel or less of syrah. We’re working with winemaker Theo Coles to create wines that are an exciting expression of this beautiful little piece of the Waipara Valley, as well as a great match for our truffles.
Limestone Hills’ pinot noir is marketed under Theo’s Hermit Ram label. The high levels of active calcium in the soil give the wine elegance and great length, and a complex, floral nose. The current release is the 2013, available from Decant in Christchurch, and via Whole Bunch Wines in Australia and Wine Diamonds in Japan. We expect to announce a UK distributor in the near future.
We’re very excited about the potential for our syrah — we call it our Côtes du Waipara, partly as a nod in the direction of the Côtes du Rhone, but also because the vineyard is on a slope high above the Waipara River. Production is currently tiny, but we’re planning to plant more vines, with the aim of producing a full barrel instead of a few demijohns. Harvested up to a month later than the pinot (the 2009 was picked in snow), the grapes develop great complexity. The wine has all the characteristics of syrah, with black pepper and dark tannins, but also a rich and complex nose that echoes the floral notes of our pinot. For the time being the wine is not available to the public.