New Zealand and its wine regions seemed relatively straightforward when studied from afar. The reality is far from the simple diagrams of what grows where and what is best. Hawkes Bay, which is known for its Gimblett Gravels and rich Bordeaux style wines, is a world away from Central Hawkes Bay, with rolling hills dotted with sheep, the grass hiding the fact that this land was recently underwater, steeped in limestone and shells.
What makes Lime Rock stand out, besides its location and choice of varietals, is the team that produce the product. This tiny 10-hectare vineyard is worked entirely by the Husband and Wife team of Rodger Tynan and Rosie Butler. Between them, they are the dynamic duo. Rodger’s strong background in Ecology paired with Rosie’s degrees in Oenology and Chemistry allow them to control the product from start to finish. After independently working for years; Rodger spent 15 years on ecology projects in the outback and Rosie became a winemaker in the Adelaide Hills, they were both ready for a change of scenery. Rodger wrapped up his project and Rosie helped with her last Aussie vintage, then they packed up and moved back New Zealand. When they returned to Rosie’s childhood farm they immediately recognized that they had a potentially world-class vineyard site on their hands.
We toured the postage stamp sized vineyard with Rodger who spoke about what made the vineyard healthy. They dig little (to avoid disturbing the Mycorrhizae) and spray less. The vineyard ranges from gentle northly exposurers to the aptly named “White Knuckle Hill Vineyard”, reminiscent of the steep slopes of the German Mosel.
The wines were surprising for the reason that they tasted like young tangy versions of old world classics with few exceptions. We had the liberty to taste the whole delicious line up and if you ever find them in a wine shop or list feel lucky and snap up a bottle.
If I were on a desert island and I HAD to choose my favorites…Nope, can’t do it, so here is the tasty line up in its entirety!
’13 Gruner Vetliner: Uncharacteristic linear yet perfumed nose with assertive acid and a palate that was round and waxy.
’11 Pinot Gris: Bright and peachy aromas with gentle floral notes . Palate has assertive acid and mineral components while being very balanced.
’12 “Coquina” Sauvignon Blanc: A blend of three unique parcels and different barrel aging techniques, this wine shows varietally correctly. Prominent vegetal character of haricot vert and capsicum are balanced by notes of ripe grapefruit with mouth watering acid.
’13 Pinot Noir Rosé: Rosé as I wish it always was. The nose is jammy strawberry pie with an herbaceous rhubarb edge. On the palate, the fruit sits and the tangy elements win. You are left with a limey acidic finish that leaves you reaching for another sip or piece of cheese.
’08 White Knuckle Hill Pinot Noir: With its unique and extreme exposure on the steepest northerly slope, the even berry size and careful handling lead to a lovely expression of Pinot Noir. The nose speaks of fully ripened fruit that is mature but still possessing an edge. Like a ripe raspberry eaten with its tiny thorns. The palate agrees but also totes notes of waxy unsweetened cocoa and cedar box on the finish.