Pyramid Valley Lion’s Tooth Chardonnay 2019
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This 0.4-hectare site takes its name from the vineyard’s abundance of dandelions (‘dent-de-lion’, or lion’s tooth in French). It is a steeply inclined, east-facing site on the classic limestone and clay of the area but here the lower levels of clay compared to Field of Fire result in it being the less vigorous of the two Chardonnay blocks. It is also more exposed and ripens earlier. In 2019, Lion’s Tooth was picked more than a week before Field of Fire.
The winemaking is the same as for the Field of Fire yet the differences in the signature of place are obvious. Here, the terroir offers breadth and layers, although the wine retains the cool energy of the climate and the limestone soils. It is a wine that celebrates richness and tension.
Our story begins in a magical place where magnificent native birds once roamed and soared, where the earth produces in abundance and the stars align for greatness. This unique site of altitude, limestone, slope, rock and rich soil is our Waikari Estate and home to some of the most profound Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines in the world. In 2018 our story breathed a new chapter when we purchased a new vineyard, the Manata Estate in Lowburn, Central Otago.
The vineyard has produced exceptional Pinot Noir since 2002 and is home to our Central Otago Pinot Noir. Across both sites biodynamic viticulture and a natural approach to winemaking create handcrafted wine that breathes of its place and tastes like nowhere else on earth.
Mike and Claudia Elze Weersing spent 15 years searching the world to find the perfect place to grow grapes. In 2000, they purchased the plot of land near Waikari, that we now call home.
German-born and America-raised Claudia, was a committed biodynamicist and the guiding spirit on the land in the early years of Pyramid Valley. Mike studied oenology and viticulture in Burgundy and worked in vineyards and cellars across Europe, honing his precise vision and practice for spectacular winemaking.
Together, Mike and Claudia created remarkable wines for close to 20 years that have been recognised the world over.
Spanning almost 200km of the South Islands eastern coast, Canterbury is one of New Zealand’s true gems. With a cool climate, the regions grapes experience long and steady ripening periods. Sunlight is a critical component of the ripening process and luckily for all, the region is typically bathed in it. Coupled with the advantageous levels of sunlight, there’s the infamous northwest wind that sweeps over the land, not only helping prevent a myriad of diseases by drying out the vine canopy, but also helps add to the total heat accumulation. While in warmer climates the natural acidity and aromatics are lost, Canterbury’s cool climates ensure bold and balanced flavours. Warm days and cool nights contribute result in rich flavour intensity. But every cloud has a silver lining, frost poses a serious threat to vintners especially in late spring or early autumn, to combat this, crop thinning is used to help accelerate the ripening process decreasing the period each fruit is at risk.
Canterbury’s main sub-region is Waipara Valley, (which translates to muddy water in Maori) situated to the north of the region is only a 40 minute journey from Christchurch city (considered the capital of the south island). Waipara has a slightly warmer climate than the rest of Canturbury, aiding in the frost issues the region experiences. Already boasting over 80 vineyards spread, covering more than 1,200 hectares of land Waipara is one of the fastest growing sub-regions, with the spot light slowly falling on Waipara, wines are getting more and more recognition and international acclaim. We can’t help but recommend the Riesling and Pinot Noir.
With three soil profiles, the regions unique terroir is comprised of “the valley floor, hill slopes and river terraces”. These profiles include gravelly deposits on the flats and terraces and limestone clays on the hillsides.