Pyramid Valley Lions Tooth Chardonnay 2020


Coming from a more exposed block, the aromas feel slightly sunnier than its compatriot, with nectarine and buttercup sitting among the mandarin, ripe lemon and fresh cashew nut. The palate is laser focussed, with savoury and salty undertones and layers of complex flavours—grilled stone fruit, lemons, flowering thyme, oatmeal—beautifully restrained by the wine’s bustling freshness and chalk-hewn energy. It’s a stunning wine that will also repay some time in the cellar.
Biodynamic. This 0.4-hectare site, like the wine that results, takes its name from the vineyard’s abundance of dandelions (dent-de-lion, or ‘lion’s tooth’ in French). These flowers predominate, apparently, because of the higher clay content in this parcel. It is a steeply inclined, east-facing site on soils that Weersing described as having a “…nut and crumb structure and great mineral fertility”. It’s the classic limestone and clay of the area, but here the higher balance of clay makes it the more vigorous of the two Chardonnay sites.

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Pyramid Valley

In 2000, after what must have seemed like an interminable search via Burgundy and back, Claudia and Mike Weersing found just the slice of heaven they were after on New Zealand’s South Island. From the very beginning the vineyard has been biodynamic and the wines crafted with absolute attention to detail and minimal winemaking influence.

North Canterbury is cool and, unlike much of the South Island, stays cool which very much defines the wines. Oak is used widely, mostly old, imparting only subtle flavour and tannin. Amphorae is also widely used, which enables a shorter maturing time and the preservation of freshness, part of Pyramid Valley’s signature style. Additions, well there are none, save for the life preserving gift of sulphur.

Friends Brian Sheth and Steve Smith bought and took over the property in 2017 and this has seen a shift in style towards transparency, purity, intense flavours and invigorating freshness. The wines have become more high toned and mineral, the fruit fresher, more tangy than sweet.

The richest wine is the Central Otago Pinot Noir – lavish and curvy, but with a chiseled refinement unmatched in the region, except for Rippon. Vibrant, intense, chiselled, high-toned, with precise layers of texture, minerality, umami, flowers, spices and herbs. The tannins are long, savoury and fine and very present, framing the wine and balanced with the wine’s naturally high acidity.

Pyramid Valley now releases three collections annually. The emblematic, 100% estate Botanical Collection is released on allocation each year. The Appellation Collection sees Pyramid Valley working with a roster of exceptional growers in North Canterbury and Central Otago. This collection is the Pyramid Valley’s negociant arm – a vital part of this project, with the aim to create a set of wines that share the same sense of somewhereness as the wines from the home vineyard. Finally, the Colours Collection comprises the Sauvignon+, Orange and Rosé.

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