About the wine
The Bell Hill Chardonnay is a select barrel blend from the Shelf, Limeworks (2009 & 1999 blocks), and Roadblock. The fruit was a combination of whole cluster pressed and crushed but not de-stemmed, depending on block, in our tank press followed by 12 months in French oak (20% new) and 7 months in tank. The wine was bottled on the 3rd of November 2017 with a pH of 3.30, TA of 6.3 g/L, and alcohol of 13%. 3,240 bottles were produced. We kept a portion of the Limeworks block aside and have bottled this separately as a single block blend which we plan to give more time and release with the 2017 vintage.
The nose has intense but refined aromatic lift combining vibrant wildflower, grapefruit and white stone fruit notes, followed by chalky, flint expression and a fresh lift of oak. The palate holds a delicious depth of fruit centred on those stone fruit and yellow citrus notes, underscored by the palate texture which reveals a long and refined drive, accessible all along but held in check by the chalkiness of texture and mineral, salivating effect on the finish.
About the producer
Bell Hill itself, so named for its bell-like shape on its southern side, was first surveyed in 1917 by Charles Trounce, who went on to establish a lime quarry that operated until the late 1930s. However, the history of the area goes back much further than that. Maori first explored Weka Pass around 1,000 years ago, when the area was still forested and rich in birdlife. A large overhanging limestone shelter in the pass was used as a temporary overnight camp and early Maori rock art decorates its walls.
Bell Hill Vineyard, so named for the bell-like shape on the southern side of its hill, was established in 1997 by Marcel Giesen and Sherwyn Veldhuizen. Situated in an ancient, north-facing limestone quarry in Waikari (adjacent to Weka Pass Historic Reserve), North Canterbury, the vineyard now covers 2 hectares of high-density plantings. The Weka Pass area was previously unplanted with grapes, but Marcel and Sherwyn were drawn to the pure chalky limestone soils and calcareous clays. With a delicate touch and focus on excellence, Marcel and Sherwyn are passionate about using Burgundian techniques to craft their stunning range of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines.
The ‘Roadblock’ and ‘Slope’ vineyard blocks are rich in dense, calcareous clays bringing another influence to their wines. Marcel and Sherwyn have been farming organically and biodynamically since the 2007/ 2008 growing season and see this as paramount to increased soil and vine health, as well as fruit quality and expression. The Bio-Gro Organic Certification was granted on 1 March 2015.
All wines are under screwcap closures and decanting recent vintages is to be encouraged, including Chardonnay.