Next stop, Greystone Wines, situated on the main State Highway in the Waipara Valley, which is the heart of North Canterbury's wine region and the hub from which other tendrils of tasty wine sub regions spread out.
Greystone's viticulturist Mike Saunders took us to the winery to taste barrel samples of Sauvignon Blanc (100% of which is barrel fermented at Greystone) as well as some stunning Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and even a Syrah. All wines we tasted were from barrel with the exception of a Pinot Noir from a 1000 litre amphora, pictured above.
Greystone also has new labels and is now 100% certified organic and all of its new vintages from here onwards have the word 'organic' on the front label of each bottle. The certification is with BioGro NZ, the leading organic certifier in this country, but by no means the only one. It's great to see the word organic on the front label because a growing number of wine drinkers want to buy certified organic products in all spheres of their lives. This makes a clear and definite statement. The new labels at Greystone also look pretty good.
The tasting with Mike was followed by an excellent lunch at Greystone's cellar door where there was a set menu of shared platters, including outstanding salads and quinoa with next level flavours, which matched the Pinot Noirs beautifully, thanks to the earthy flavours in both. Local product is championed here, as you would expect for a winery that has been actively involved in the North Canterbury Forage event, which ran for several years until a couple of years ago. It was the brainchild of dedicated organic food growers, including Angela Clifford, whose husband Nick Gill is the general manager of Greystone Wines today. He is a viticulturist so he and Angela are great champions of high quality produce and know more than a little about growing it.
The Greystone tasting...
It's not easy writing tasting notes while eating lunch or standing up in a winery, suffice to say that these Greystone wines were outstanding. The climate in North Canterbury naturally lends itself to producing wines with longer than typical hang time on the vines, hot days and cool nights with such a pronounced diurnal difference that development of taste and high acidity to balance full body is, well, only natural here.
We tasted, amongst others, the 2018 Greystone Chardonnay and the top white from this winery, the 2018 Greystone Erin’s Chardonnay, followed by these two interesting reds.
2018 Greystone Vineyard Ferment Pinot Noir
The first bottling was 2016 but it has been made since 2012 and was blended into the estate wine, as some of the ferments still are. This complex, earthy wine looks lighter in colour and style and is a spicy, savoury take on the Pinot theme, thanks to being 100% fermented in the vineyard, with less extraction due to less cap management. It's a concept pioneered by and only done at Greystone. A wine to watch and a wine that's easy to love.
Buy this tasty and unique Pinot Noir here.
2018 Greystone Thomas Brothers Pinot Noir
Limestone soils, hand picked grapes, 100% destemmed, organically certified with 15 months in oak, 66% new. This is an impressive wine. It is made from grapes grown at the top block on the top hill and only about five barrels are produced. This is the first one made since 2016. The wine sees 66% new barriques. It is full bodied and big right now and needs time to mellow.
Organic and vegan certified. Here's a wine for the cellar. Buy it here.