Vigneron's Notes

A family wine estate from New Zealand. We craft traditional wine styles that emphasise texture, mouthfeel and persistence of flavour.

Pinot 2017 & Pinot Palooza

At the beginning of February over 600 people gathered in Wellington for a week of pure NZ Pinot Noir. This was a great opportunity for New Zealand to show off its Pinot Noir to the world, with writers and distributors coming from across the globe. To taste, listen and discuss for 3 days. The event itself is self-assured in culture, staunchly NZ  with little mention of Burgundy and plenty of references to our own sense of place and the styles emerging from various regions.  Certainly New Zealand Pinot Noir has come a long way in 30 years. As a country we make a diverse and distinctive range of Pinot Noir.

In addition a Pinot Palooza event ran for the public.  This was a fantastic opportunity to taste over one hundred Pinots in one a single session.  It was a pleasure to meet Bellbird Spring fans, and to hear feedback on your favourite wines.

Guy Porter

Forage North Canterbury 2017

This years event was another perfectly orchestrated, locally gathered feast.

Welcomed in true North Canterbury fashion by a blustery Nor Wester, a group of wine and food media, trade and chefs descended upon the region to spend the day fossicking about the countryside looking for food. Split into eight groups, they covered the hills and fields, down to the rivers, estuaries and out to sea.

The Bellbird Spring contingent got lucky with our rather glam itinerary which involved visiting Limestone Hills Truffiere, Waipara Honey and Guy’s parents for scones. We also picked plums, gathered watercress and raided the Bellbird Spring garden and quail coops. Lunch was a family affair at Bellbird Spring with delicious salads, terrine and rillettes all mostly grown, made and prepared by Guy and family.

The afternoon was spent at Pegasus Bay Winery for the great reveal of all the groups foraged finds. The table was amassed with edible greenery, plums, berries as well as a few pigeons, hares, fish and even an octopus! While the chefs planned and prepared their signature dishes, the visitors enjoyed a comprehensive tasting of North Canterbury wines made by the wineries involved.

Dinner was nine spectacular courses with the wine matches carefully chosen by the visiting sommeliers. All in all, the day and evening meal, was an exemplary experience showcasing just how special our region is for food and wine, we’re pretty lucky indeed.




That festive feeling


The sun has been shining, the vines are flowering and all is lush in the vineyard. It’s hard to avoid getting caught up in the seasonal delight that is Christmas and all that comes with a new year and new beginnings. So far,  I am pleased with how the growing season is coming along and the fruit set in the Pinot Gris, above, is looking excellent.

The latest batch of reviews from Michael Cooper

The Pruner’s Reward, Waipara Sauvignon Blanc
From Bellbird Spring, the 2016 vintage (4*) was fermented in tanks (80 per cent) and old oak casks (20 per cent). The best yet, it is medium to full-bodied, fresh and lively, with very good vigour and depth of ripe tropical-fruit flavours, showing a touch of complexity, and a dry, crisp finish.

Bellbird Spring Block Eight Pinot Gris
The 2013 vintage (4*) was estate-grown at Waipara, hand-harvested, and fermented and lees-aged in old oak casks. Showing good complexity, it is medium to full-bodied, with concentrated, ripe stone-fruit flavours, a distinct splash of sweetness (40 grams/litre of residual sugar), and a soft, faintly honeyed finish. Drink now or cellar.

Bellbird Spring Block Eight Waipara Sauvignon Blanc
This distinctive wine is hand-picked and fermented with indigenous yeasts in old oak barriques. The 2014 vintage (4*), barrel-aged for 10 months, is light yellow/green, with strong, ripe tropical-fruit flavours, a subtle seasoning of toasty oak adding complexity, and a tight, dry finish. A highly distinctive wine, it’s a drink-now or cellaring proposition. (In a short vertical tasting of the 2011–2013 vintages, held in August 2015, the older wines were still drinking well.)

Bellbird Spring Pinot Noir Rosé
Grown at Waipara, the 2016 vintage (4*) was fermented in old oak casks. Pale pink/slight orange, it is full-bodied, with good depth of ripe, peachy and spicy flavours, showing a touch of complexity, and a dry, rounded finish. Drink this summer.

Bellbird Spring Sous Voile
The non-vintage wine (5*) released in 2015 is unique for New Zealand, but echoes wines from Jura, France, and amontillado sherry. Made in a deliberately ‘oxidative’ style from Waipara Pinot Gris, it was fermented dry and matured for four years in old oak barriques under a layer of yeast (‘sous voile’ means ‘under veil’). Light gold, it is an unfortified wine (although harbouring 15.5 per cent alcohol), with substantial body and strong, dry, peachy, yeasty, nutty flavours. Well worth discovering.

Summer Update from Bellbird Spring


Dear friends,

After two years of drought, the valley and vineyard are looking extraordinarily green this year. Steady, repeated rain has brought up soil moisture and given excellent shoot growth. Shoot thinning is the focus for the moment, this ensures good spacing between shoots and in turn lowers disease risks and moderates yield. The Block Eight Sauvignon Blanc from 2016 vintage has been fermented in old barrels and is going dry, soon we will be moving it from barrel to tank to prepare for bottling. Our newest release however is the Bellbird Spring Dry Pinot Gris 2016, this can be purchased through our website with free delivery within NZ.

Wishing you all a happy and safe summer,
Guy Porter

Decant Tasting

Decant in Christchurch hosts a tasting every week but not often with a local producer, so it was a privilege for Bellbird Spring to feature in store last Wednesday.

In typical Bellbird Spring fashion this was a wine and food focussed tasting with 8 wines specifically matched to 4 canapé style dishes. Some of these matches were perfect, others could have been improved and thus great discussion ensued regarding flavours, mouthfeel and texture. This is what makes for a good wine tasting, thanks for having us Decant.


RSE Workers at Bellbird Spring


Owning and operating a vineyard is farming with a rather glamorous end product, it’s easy to forget what your imbibing has had hundreds of man hours poured into it first. Vineyard work is physical, repetitive and often means being exposed to all sorts of weather extremities. At Bellbird Spring we are a small family team and there is no limit to what we may turn our hand to but we can’t keep on top everything alone. To keep the vineyard in shape we employ the services of Hortus and their RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employees) workers.

The RSE scheme was fist initiated in Central Otago in 2006 as an opportunity to initiate revolving aid between NZ and the Pacific Islands. The first enrolment saw 50 men & women from Vanuatu brought to NZ for seasonal work. Now, around 9,000 Pacific Island RSE workers may be working within NZ at the height of seasonal orchard and vineyard work.

To help finish off the pruning this month Jason from Hortus came to Bellbird Spring with 9 guys from Vanuatu. For some of them this will be their 7th seasonal stint in NZ and with the income they are able to build homes, pay for school fees and help their villages. As an organic and sustainable vineyard, this employment embodies true economic sustainability and we look forward to having the Hortus crew at Bellbird Spring. We can’t grow wine alone and these small Pacific communities cannot thrive without reciprocal support from NZ.

Rosé 2016 Food Match Recipe

Blackened Salmon with Citrus Salad (serves 2)


A delicate yet detailed Rosé. Quenching, with notes of ripe citrus and sweet spice. The palate has well balanced acid with orange and cranberry fruit characters.


2 x salmon fillets

2 x orange

1 x meyer lemon (best to use meyer as the flesh is tasty and not too tart)

2 x mandarin

2 x mint tips

1 x good sized sprig of flat leaf parsley

olive oil

For the Seasoning:

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp oregano (dried)

1 tsp thyme (dried or fresh)

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp dill (dried)

1 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp vege salt

1 tsp salt

A few grinds of black pepper

Mix the seasoning all together in a bowl.

Cut/peel the skin off your citrus and remove as much pith as possible. Keep the mandarin segments whole but cut the orange and lemon into small pieces. Put into a bowl with roughly chopped parsley and mint, mix together with a splash of olive oil and pinch of salt.

Heat a skillet or heavy bottomed frying pan with a dash of oil. Coat your salmon fillets with olive oil then cover the entire fillet with seasoning. Fry off in pan until completely black on all sides. Be sure to have the windows open and the extractor on! Depending on the size of the fillet and how well done you like your salmon you may wish to finish it off for 5-10 minutes in a hot oven.

Plate up and enjoy with Bellbird Spring Pinot Noir Rosé 2016



Spring Update from Bellbird Spring


Dear Friends,

With the first day of Spring tomorrow it’s time for another update. It has been a busy few months for Bellbird Spring with travel to Canada, the UK and Hong Kong.  I visited distributors, retailers, restaurants and spoke with customers.  Making these contacts, renewing business relationships and rekindling friendships is vital to us.

In mid August we held an Affinity lunch at Roots Restaurant in Lytttelton (see below for blog post). This was an intimate affair and similarly an opportunity to meet new friends. Those at the lunch had a first tasting of the limited production Pinot Noir Rosé 2016.  This will be listed on our web site for a short time only.

I have been spending time on under vine weeding and the focus of the next few weeks will be finishing off the last of the winter jobs in preparation for Spring growth. You will hear from us again once we’re on the other side (we hope!) of frost fighting season.

Best regards,

Guy Porter

Roots Affinity Lunch

Affinity (noun) – a liking or sympathy for someone or something, especially because of shared characteristics.


On August 20th Guy hosted an affinity lunch at the highly acclaimed Roots Restaurant in Lyttelton. This was an opportunity to meet new friends and to relish Canterbury produce with Canterbury wine.

A convivial group ate, drank, chatted and laughed over a wonderful lunch.  We got to see why wines with texture and complexity suit fine food so well, but more than that we enjoyed good food, good wine and good company together.

Photos from the day can be see on our Facebook page.