Pyramid Valley Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2020


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Region: North Canterbury
Pinot Noir
First Glance: 
Powerful and layered elite Pinot Noir

Pyramid Valley is a true cool-climate gem in North Canterbury, situated half way between the cold ocean on one side and snow capped mountains on the other. Originally started by Mike and Claudia Weersing in 2000, the estate has been fully biodynamic from the get go, and is operated with a great focus on biodiversity, to strengthen the natural resilience of the vines and ecosystem around them. The last vintage of the Weersings was 2016, after which the winery was bought up by the dynamic power-duo of Steve Smith MW and American billionaire investor Brian Sheth. With new investments in both cellar and vineyard, as well as the addition of plots in Central Otago, the future looks bright for this iconic address.

Pyramid Valley’s Pinot Noir vineyards are densely planted on clay/limestone slopes. Earth Smoke sits on the richer soils of the two: an expansive, east-facing slope with strong, beautifully structured soils that are comparatively high in limestone. The name here comes from the nickname given to fumitory, a plant of the poppy family that can be found thriving in this 0.85-hectare plot. Although both wines share a familial DNA, the later-picked Earth Smoke is typically the more structured and darker of the two wines, with more fruit weight to go with its tender, fine tannins. 

The combination of high sunlight, high UV, moderate temperatures, and decent humidity is nirvana for temperate plants. Pyramid’s vines respond by harnessing all this energy to ripen grapes that are full of the delicate aromas, beautiful flavours and refined phenolics that are the benchmark for fine, cool-climate Pinot Noir (and often lost in warmer, more stressful climates). The 2020 Angel Flower and Earth Smoke are resplendent with this energy and the unique stamp of their particular part of the Waikari vineyard.

The aromas themselves are as beguiling as they are surprising: brooding black cherry and dark plum, orange, Christmas cake spices and hints of warm, damp forest. The palate has a pure and comforting ripe black cherry pastry feel that’s pulled into line by wonderful savoury, sappy nuances and fine acidity. It’s dense and long with not an ounce of fat, just-perfect ripeness and the feel of clay and chalk with a refined, mineral-tinged close. Again, it is already showing its inner beauty, but stash it away for at least a few years and you will be rewarded.