The latest batch of reviews from Michael Cooper

by Bellbird Spring

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.