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Pyramid Valley

Deep Ambitions: Latest Releases from “a Yardstick for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Globally.”
Pyramid Valley

Estate manager and winemaker Huw Kinch is one of the most thoughtful and detailed growers we know. And with the support of the expertise of industry legend Steve Smith, he is crafting some of New Zealand’s most exhilarating, terroir-driven wines. From the outset, they have made it clear that their vision for Pyramid Valley is to seal its place as one of the world’s great producers of cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Many in the trade believe they are there already. They certainly have all the tools, from their excellent rocky terroirs and ideal micro-climates to their precise, hardworking ethic in their vineyards and cellar. And while the word “talent” is over-used in wine writing, in Hew Kinch and Nick Paulin, Pyramid are also blessed in that department.

Pyramid calls these two collections Colours and Pastures—but banish any image of broad brushstrokes and distant fields; here, everything is vividly detailed and finely etched. The Pastures Collection’s chief focus is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, made in the same earth-to-glass spirit as Pyramid’s iconic Botanical Collection. These releases are from 2021, a season in which Waipara frosts wiped out the Waikari home vineyard. Yields elsewhere were decimated, but where there was life, there was more than hope. “The rest of the season was pretty easy,” Kinch tells us with a rueful smile. The small crops that came through for the North Canterbury Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were bright, ripe and intense. 

This year’s Central Otago Pinot Noir is drawn exclusively from Manata, Pyramid’s organic site in Lowburn. Paulin—the team’s biodynamic specialist who apprenticed under Blair Walter at Felton Road—lives on the property, giving it the same care lavished upon the Waikari site, where the Kinch family reside. Then there’s a limited single-site Sauvignon Blanc from the Weaver family’s Churton vineyard—a Marlborough Sauvignon of deep ambition.

With the Colours Collection, Pyramid Valley goes into exploratory mode. In the cooler 2022 season, Kinch and the team let the fruit hang for longer than usual before taking in grapes with natural grace and balance. The stylistic playfulness of these wines belies a typically attentive respect for site, fruit quality and detail. That rosé, by the way…

Once again, all the wines play out with beautiful purity in the glass, exuding the kind of authenticity and vitality that is hardwired into the DNA of the world’s greatest growers. They are genuine expressions of their place and reflective of this estate's foundational philosophies. You could say Pyramid Valley is crafting some of the most important wines grown in New Zealand today. Let’s see what you think…

The Wines

Pyramid Valley Marlborough Sauvignon + 2022

Pyramid Valley Marlborough Sauvignon + 2022

This year’s blend is 98% Sauvignon Blanc with 2% Pinot Gris, sourced from three certified organic vineyards. The primary source is the Weaver family’s Churton Vineyard in Marlborough, supplemented by the Porters (Bellbird) and Good Family Vineyard in North Canterbury.

Two-thirds of the fruit was fermented in tank, with 15% in concrete tulips and 17% in old barrels. Some 2% was fermented on skins. Skin fermentation and partial malolactic conversion were used to naturally balance the Sauvignon’s acidity while celebrating its innate freshness and vibrancy. It’s a cracking release: textural and racy with savoury meadow herbs woven throughout and a lovely dry, saline finish.


“Mostly from the biodynamically farmed Churton vineyard in Marlborough, with a touch of pinot gris. Mellow and quite sophisticated sauvignon with gooseberry, green capsicum, and green apple flavours. Distinctive wine with a character all of its own."
90 points, Bob Campbell, The Real Review
“Sliced limes and papaya on both the nose and palate, but not overpowering. Flint and gunpowder. Medium body, mineral and aniseed highlights. Flavorful finish.”
92 points, Jamessuckling.com
Pyramid Valley Marlborough Sauvignon + 2022
Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Rosé 2022

Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Rosé 2022

100% Pinot Noir from the Waipara Springs vineyard in Waipara, North Canterbury, which is sustainably farmed with no artificial chemicals or fertilisers. Old-vine 10/5 Clone Pinot Noir was planted in the early 1990s, and the site is managed by Pyramid Valley. The fruit was picked on 11th April. The grapes were pressed as whole bunches before fermenting with indigenous yeasts in a combination of concrete tulips and old puncheons. The wine aged on its ferment lees without sulphur for six months before blending in November. The notes below do not oversell this outstanding wine—we haven’t tasted a more exciting rosé from New Zealand. Structured and vinous it may be, yet it is also seriously addictive. 

“The 2022 Rosé North Canterbury is produced from old vine 10/5 Pinot Noir clones planted in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Dry farmed, managed organically, whole-bunch pressed and fermented in concrete and old puncheons before spending six months on lees, the resulting wine is dry, full and savory. Unlike most rosés, it doesn’t focus on fruit but texture. It is complex and concentrated, firm and serious.”
95 points, Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous
“Pale, pretty rosé with delicate cherry/berry, raspberry and wildflower flavours. Dry and delicate wine with appealing purity and a crisp, lingering finish. Serious, sophisticated rosé.”
94 points, Bob Campbell, The Real Review
“Good colour, orange-y, ruddy hue, though flavours are lighter than expected if not suggestively tinged with blood orange tang over red cherry and pomegranate juice. The perfume is attractive, more cherry, some flinty mineral notes, a touch of dried herbs. It has a nice, sinewy chew to it all, fine tannins finish the wine, a little juiciness mid palate for some added bandwidth. Decent drinking, but doesn’t deliver a more complex expression, though that’s sometimes not the point too, of course.”
91 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
“A medium-bodied rosé with crab apple and pear aromas and flavors. Some flint. Fruity and straightforward.”
Jamessuckling.com
Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Rosé 2022
Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Orange 2022

Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Orange 2022

This year’s blend comprises 78% Pinot Gris, 14% Sauvignon Blanc, 7% Pinot Noir, 1% Gewürztraminer and just under 1% Muscat. The wine brings together three vineyards that are sustainably farmed, free of artificial chemicals or fertilisers: BioGro-certified Porters (Bellbird) vineyard on Mackenzies Road; Pyramid Valley Waikari Estate in North Canterbury; and a tiny amount of Sauvignon Blanc from Churton Vineyard in Marlborough.

The fruit was primarily vinified as whole bunches for 12 to 24 days in open-top fermenters, with a small amount of Blanc de Noir pressings added during fermentation. The wines were aged in clay amphora and old barrels for six months without adding sulphur. “We wanted to make an Orange that’s balanced between the tannins and fruit weight,” Kinch told us. “So finer, lighter tannins, something that matches our cooler climate.”

Max Allen commented on this wine’s premier release, “Oh if only all orange wines were as downright delicious and as beautiful as this.” It has only kicked on since then. We love the burst of Christmas spices, orange rind, and soft fine tannins that coat the mouth, leaving a savoury and moreish finish. Boom.

“The 2022 Orange North Canterbury is wine’s answer to Campari - or a Negroni. It is a wacky blend of Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc with a splash of Muscat and Gewurztraminer for good measure. Whole bunches are co-fermented to give a dry, attractive, pleasantly bitter twist to this dry, fragrant wine. Expect bitter orange, green olive and herb flavors on the long finish.”
93 points, Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous
“Fun orange wine with pear skin, light caramel, and dried ginger. It’s cloudy and light orange straw in color. Dry and flavorful. Honey at the end with more ginger and hints of vanilla bean. Well done.”
92 points, Jamessuckling.com
Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Orange 2022
Pyramid Valley Marlborough Weaver Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Pyramid Valley Marlborough Weaver Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Our first allocation of this limited single-vineyard release, which sits alongside the Springs Chardonnay and Korimako Pinot Noir. The fruit is harvested by hand from Sam and Mandy Weaver’s certified organic, biodynamically farmed Churton vineyard. It sits on a hillside 200 metres above sea level between the Waihopai and Omaka Valleys. Pyramid Valley selected a parcel from the northeast-facing slope on loess above a clay subsoil. 

The grapes were picked on 30th March and sorted and pressed as whole bunches into a wooden egg. The wine was fermented with indigenous yeasts and left on lees for 12 months. It was bottled without fining or filtration. Huw Kinch explains they chose this vineyard for the Sauvignon as it shows the heights to which Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc can reach. The palate sings with the lovely intensity of ripe fruit, with beautiful textures sculpted by mouth-watering energy and chalky drive. Expect the unexpected. It should age gracefully over the next five to 10 years.

“Potent and powerful expression, scents of sandalwood, preserved lemon, cardamom pods, wet fern. The palate more of the same, intense and focussed, struck with loads of flinty mineral character and a lick of pleasing, hazelnut and woody spice. Very elegant, feels serious, reminds me of great Bordeaux blancs in a way, and yet distinctly itself. Very persistent in its flavours too, and fresh in its finish, long down the trail. Should cellar well too. This is very special. And dammit, delicious.”
95 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
“Light-mid yellow colour, bright and clear, the bouquet nutty and complex, possibly barrel-work tinged, with notes of spices mixing it up with the herbal and lemon/citrus fruit flavours, while the palate is generously fruity with a tickle of sweetness and a nicely balanced, clean finish that rolls on long. More of a fumé style, and very good indeed.”
95 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
Pyramid Valley Marlborough Weaver Sauvignon Blanc 2021
Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Chardonnay 2021

Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Chardonnay 2021

The wine comes from two vineyards: old-vine Mendoza Chardonnay grown on the Omihi clay soils of Waipara Springs, planted between 1982 and 1986, and Clone 5 and Mendoza Chardonnay grown on Three Sisters Vineyard on Mackenzies Road in Waipara, planted between 2001 and 2002 on Rangitata gravels.

Harvested by hand between 12th and 23rd March. The must fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in 20% new French oak barrels for 12 months before settling in stainless steel on light lees for another four months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. It opens with an alluringly reductive and toasty mineral nose before unfurling on the palate in ripe stone fruits, hazelnut and grilled almonds supported by a complex, mouth-filling structure and classic North Canterbury salinity. Burgundy drinkers will feel right at home.

“Impressive chardonnay with grapefruit/citrus, oyster shell, nutty yeast lees flavours and a smattering of spicy oak. Intense wine with power and a pleasing texture that provides backbone and promotes longevity. Delicious wine.”
95 points, Bob Campbell, The Real Review
“Nicely done, even and flowing, quite a square chardonnay if anything, classic stone fruits, cinnamon and nougat oak seasoning elements, a bit of Brazil nut savoury-sweet bitterness and a light floral element that also feels slightly botanical, gin-like maybe. Soft texture, long finish, quite a luxurious wine that feels very primped and preened. Classy stuff, and generally ‘nice’.”
93 points, Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
“This is an intense and beautiful chardonnay with lime, ginger, lemon zest and hints of raw pie crust with ripe apple undertones. Full and layered with lots of flavor yet vivid and energetic. Wonderful now but even better in the future.”
96 points, Jamessuckling.com
“Lifted aromas of grapefruit pith, struck match, white flowers, green melon and briar. Generously flavoured, pointed and long. There's a drive of just-ripe stone-fruit flavours along with nougat, citrus and melon. There's lovely texture and length and the acidity has some real ping and zip to it.”
95 points, Aaron Brasher, The Real Review
Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Chardonnay 2021
Pyramid Valley Central Otago Manata Pinot Noir 2021

Pyramid Valley Central Otago Manata Pinot Noir 2021

Pyramid Valley opened a new chapter of its story in 2018 when it purchased Jean and Roger Gibson’s highly regarded Lowburn Ferry vineyard in Central Otago’s Lowburn sub-region. Already winning national awards by 2003, the site was planted in 2000 on a gentle, north-facing slope with 30% own-rooted vines and a mix of clones—some of the oldest Pinot vines in Otago. A supplement of higher-density Pinot Noir was planted on a lower terrace in 2018 by Pyramid Valley’s biodynamic specialist, Nick Paulin, who lives on and manages the property.

Now renamed Manata, paying homage to a romantic Māori legend of this region, soils are predominantly loess over deep silts that have developed pedogenic lime deposits. 2021 was the final year of organic conversion; as of 2022, the site has been certified organic by BioGro NZ. There are two wines made from this vineyard. The Manata Pinot is a selection of blocks, while a single-parcel Pinot Noir called Snake Tongue now forms part of the Botanical Selection.

The grapes were hand-picked and fermented with indigenous yeasts in open-top concrete and oak fermenters, with 15% whole bunches included. The wine aged in French oak barrels (25% new) for 12 months before settling in concrete and wooden cuves on light lees for a further six months. All parties involved are clearly besotted by this “special” vineyard whose wine manifests the dark berry plushness and energy of Central Otago, allied to silky structure and impressive ageing potential.


“Manata is a vineyard in Lowburn, Central Otago which has been cultivated as a market garden for 150 years to produce soils that are high in organic matter. Dense, rich and concentrated pinot noir with cassis, ripe plum, and mocha flavours. Seductive, accessible and tantalisingly complex wine with development potential.”
96 points, Bob Campbell, the Real Review
“Sweet cherry and strawberry with cedar, light tar and stone aromas along with some vanilla bean that follows through to a full body with round and polished tannins and a crunchy finish. A savory tone to the fruit makes this very attractive and enticing. Fine and firm tannined finish.”
94 points, Jamessuckling.com
“The 2021 Manata Pinot Noir is distinctly soft, rolling and round—it sort of flows across the palate in a liquid kind of way (despite the fact that it is, actually, liquid). It's all dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee grounds, black pudding, dark cherry, plum skin and bay leaf. This is a soft, pillowy wine that has magnitude and gravitas through the finish, which is a pleasurable offset. A red apple core at the heart of the wine keeps me coming back for more ... a good attribute in a wine. “Those dark characters may be the impact of the last five days of harvest, where we had strong warm northwest winds. It hit 30 degrees occasionally," says Steve Smith, MW. 14.5% alcohol, sealed under screw cap.”
93 points, Erin Larkin, The Wine Advocate
Pyramid Valley Central Otago Manata Pinot Noir 2021
Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2021

Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2021

This wine brings together three vineyards in North Canterbury: Three Sisters on Mackenzies Road in Waipara, planted on Rangitata gravels; the Porters family vineyard on Mackenzies Road in Waipara, planted in 2004 on Domett Clay soils on an east-facing slope; and the Springs vineyard planted in the early 1980s on Omihi clay soils.

The grapes were picked by hand and fermented with indigenous yeasts in open-top fermenters, with 20% whole bunches included. The wine aged in French oak barrels (20% new) for 12 months before settling in stainless steel on light lees for a further six months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, the wine opens with a layered aroma of red plum pit and pretty, lifted floral, spice and dried herb notes. The palate is deep and silky, flecked with ripe plums, liquorice, and more dried-herb flavours perfectly framed by graceful, plush tannins. The finish has a lovely structure, which tapers to a long, savoury and moreish finish.


“Rich, concentrated, fleshy pinot noir with ripe plum, cassis, savoury/dried herb and subtle dark chocolate flavours. Bold, complex wine that is accessible now but has the structure to get even better with bottle age.”
94 points, Bob Campbell, the Real Review
“A brilliance and sweetness of fruit on the nose with cherries and lightly dried strawberries. Orange peel undertones. Medium- to full-bodied, with a tightness and firmness in texture from the linear tannins that hold the wine tight and focused. Very pretty already but needs a few years to fully come together.”
95 points, Jamessuckling.com
“The 2021 North Canterbury Pinot Noir is densely colored in the glass and leads with a far more brooding and saturated nose than the cool 2022 tasted beside. In the mouth, the wine is complex, deep and expansive, with black cherry, tapenade, hints of clove, dehydrated star anise and a hint of salted licorice through the finish. This vintage saw smaller crops, smaller berries and a warm season. There’s also a small amount of whole bunch here, which creates the capacious mid-palate. Also, the 2022 has no whole bunch, yet it tastes spicy and “bunchy,” while here, the whole bunch is aromatically invisible and evident in the exoticism through the finish, the structure and the mid-palate openness. A different expression for a different palate to 2022, but both are wonderful. 13.5% alcohol, sealed under screw cap.”
92+ points, Erin Larkin, The Wine Advocate
Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2021

“You may think you know New Zealand wines but I can assure you that until you have tasted Pyramid Valley, you have no idea. The results speak for themselves: astonishingly good, terroir-expressive wines that will challenge all your preconceptions.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate



“Sometimes you taste a wine for the first time and it’s so fabulous, so new, so different, that you’re overwhelmed by a desire to visit the vineyard where the grapes were grown.”
Max Allen, The Australian Financial Review



“Benchmark New Zealand vineyard and wines. If not a yardstick for chardonnay and pinot noir globally. No joke.”
Mike Bennie, The Wine Front

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