Two Hermit Rams: distinctive, natural Pinot Noirs from North Canterbury

new zealand pinot noir

Two Hermit Rams: distinctive, natural Pinot Noirs from North Canterbury

Theo Coles makes the wines of Kalex, in Central Otago. But he also has his own brand, Hermit Ram, which is based in North Canterbury. These two Pinot Noirs are both quite different, but are equally compelling.

The first comes from a tiny (1200 vine) close-planted (7000 vines/ha) vineyard in the Waipara Valley. It’s on a truffle farm called Limestone Hills, owned by Gareth and Camille Renowlden, and has 300 Syrah vines in addition to 900 Pinot Noir vines planted in 2002/3. The soils are high pH black redzina over solid, mostly active limestone. Theo makes the wines from this site, in the Waipara Gorge, and first vintage was 2012.

The Hermit Ram Pinot Noir Limestone Hills 2015 North Canterbury
900 vines at 7000 vines a hectare, active limestone soils. Fresh and elegant with juicy cherry and plum fruit. There’s a leafy greenness sitting under the supple red cherry fruit with a fine spicy core. So fresh and detailed with potential for development. This is a beautifully restrained and complex wine. 94/100

The close-planted Limestone Hills vineyard (picture: Theo Coles)

The second is called Whole Bunch, and it comes from a close planted vineyard in the Omihi slopes with a predominantly clay soil that has streaks of iron oxide and limestone. This wine is 75% whole bunch and has no sulfur dioxide until bottling, and even then very little (20 parts total).

The Hermit Ram Pinot Noir Whole Bunch 2016 North Canterbury, New Zealand
This is a compelling, intriguing wine that has beautiful balance and should age well. Crunchy and juicy with some bright raspberry and red cherry fruit. Savoury and grunty but with some nice texture and some silkiness. Supple and fine. 93/100

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3 Comments on Two Hermit Rams: distinctive, natural Pinot Noirs from North CanterburyTagged , ,
wine journalist and flavour obsessive

3 thoughts on “Two Hermit Rams: distinctive, natural Pinot Noirs from North Canterbury

  1. Would be good to know two things.
    1] What kind of Pinot Noir clones they’re using on this site [Haven’t actually heard you talk about this about New Zealand in general and what combinations are they using in the final mix
    2] What type of French oak they’re using, percentage of new barrels

    I appreciate what I’m asking might be a bit OTT….however, it would provide some fascinating insights to why not just the Terroir is making this wine so good?

  2. Im pretty sure he is using the “828” clone (DRC suitcase clone) that Ata Rangi started and is now widely planted.

  3. Only just seen Philip’s question, sorry. At Limestone Hills, we planted 300 each of three pinot clones: 5, 7 and 115 – commonly known as Burgundy clones in NZ. The syrah is from a local source, reputed to have been sourced from Hermitage.

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