About this WINE
Greystone Wines began in 2000 when the Thomas Family purchased a farm with exceptional limestone soils in the Omihi hills in Waipara. Viticultural specialist Nick Gill was bought over from Penfolds to plant 13 blocks on this unique terroir and by 2004 work was complete. Dom Maxwell, who had been working as an accountant in London, was hired as the winemaker and the first vintage was 2008. It is the soil on this site that makes it particularly interesting with hard limestone rock moving down towards clay on the north-facing slopes, providing excellent terroir for Pinot Noir.
Greystone’s top wine, The Brothers’ Reserve Pinot Noir, comes from a small, single block made up of solid limestone with a small amount of clay. The wine matures for 15 months in 70 percent new French oak and is bottled without fining or filtration. The 2012 vintage on show today won the International Pinot Noir Trophy at the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards.
Canterbury is an increasingly important fine wine region located on South Island’s eastern seaboard, just north of Christchurch, albeit accounting for only four percent of total plantings in New Zealand, yet nine percent of wineries, suggesting a thriving single-estate industry (given the 90 percent increase in wineries there since 2000).
In the rain shadow of the Southern Alps, the region is relatively dry and sunny with long, parched autumns, if constantly at risk from the south-easterly Antarctic blasts, particularly during flowering. Yields are further moderated by fairly unfertile, stony and on-the-slopes limestone soils. Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay and, increasingly Pinot Gris, Pinot Gris are the varieties to watch.
The Mountford Estate, founded in the early 1990s, is producing one of New Zealand's leading Pinot Noirs from its base in the warmer Waipara Valley. The Waipara style stands for warm flavours evocative of sweet red peppers and spices.
Further south, on the border with Central Otago, lies the brand new region of Waitaki Valley, populated by only a handful of wineries since the late 1990s, but potentially a very exciting source of top Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, due to its steep, north-facing limestone escarpment – if, at times, a cripplingly cool climate. Ostler Vineyards is a producer to watch, making an almost Beaune-like style of Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.