Region: North Canterbury
First Glance: textured and complex top Chardonnay
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.
The Lion's Tooth vineyard has 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. The winemaking is the same as the Field of Fire, yet the differences in the signature of place are apparent. Indeed, the compelling 2020 Lion’s Tooth shows how a slight change in aspect and soil can impact the finished wine in these edgy, cool-climate vineyards. This too, shows the racy acidity of this vintage, be it a touch softer due to the completion of malolactic fermentation.
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.