2021 Pyramid Valley Snake’s Tongue Pinot Noir
Driven to create one of the new world’s great cool-climate vineyards, it took Mike and Claudia Weersing 15 years and a quixotic global journey that included a lengthy stopover in Burgundy before they found their perfect site. Inspired by the climate and soils of that region, the duo finally found their special place in the limestone-rich soils of Waikari in North Canterbury. From here Mike and Claudia established Pyramid Valley and emerged as NZ pioneers of both biodynamic practices and high-density viticulture. For almost 20 years they inspired and/or challenged all those who came into their orbit. Their minute scale and exceptional dedication to their soils and vines led to some incredible wines being produced. First visiting the vineyard in 2007, Steve Smith MW (then of Craggy Range) was one of many affected by what he describes as one the most compelling and unique vineyards he has ever visited. When Mike’s health went into decline, the Weersings were forced to sell and Smith and his partner Brian Sheth acquired the estate in late 2017. The spectre of Burgundy is writ large over the foundation and ethos of Pyramid Valley, yet we should not expect imitations in terms of the style of the wines. Rather they have their own very distinctive style and energy, and this is precisely as it should be with terroir-driven wines; uniqueness is the point.
In 2018, Pyramid Valley became a two-property estate when it purchased the Manata vineyard in Central Otago’s Lowburn sub-region. The team quickly applied their precise viticultural standards to what was already considered one of the greatest sites in the region. In just three years, Paulin and his team have doubled the organic matter in the soil and achieved organic certification through BioGro NZ. They also immediately recognised the potential of the block they now call Snake’s Tongue—a nod to one of the many common names used for blue borage: Viper’s (snake’s) bugloss (ox-tongue). Fermented in an open-top concrete tulip, with 25% whole bunches and as much whole berry as possible, the wine matured in 25% new 500-litre puncheons for 12 months, followed by a further six months in neutral oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.