The Thomas family purchased the Omihi hillside site in 2000 and set about establishing and planting the various small blocks on these slopes in 2004. The combination of viticulturalist Nick Gill and wine-maker Dom Maxwell has been a fortuitous and happy one, with Greystone being recognised as one of the new stars on the NZ wine scene. The Decanter Trophy for the 2013 Brothers Reserve Pinot Noir really put them on the world stage.

Tonight Dom showcased current release wines alongside the yet to be released Syrah and two Reserve wines – Erin’s Chardonnay and Thomas Reserve Pinot Noir as well as allowing us to taste the unique vineyard fermented Pinot Noir.

At the recent PinotnoirNZ event in Wellington the question was asked ‘where is the exciting future of New Zealand Pinot Noir’ likely to be and the resounding answer was “North Canterbury”. And especially on the limestone based hillside slopes. Already we are seeing some excellent wines from the Eastern slopes from the likes of Mountford, Black Estate and of course Greystone. What is also exciting is the emphasis on sustainable, organic practises and some very innovative winemaking. Dom is the first in the world to carry out full vineyard fermentation, following on from the now oft used vineyard started ferments (using vineyard yeasts to start a ferment in a small container in the vineyard, and then  using this to start the fermentation in the winery.) As the taste notes below indicate, this does seem to bring some different flavours and textures to the wine.

It is not only Pinot Noir that is exciting at Greystone. There is quality across the range. The new Erin’s Reserve Chardonnay is one of the best I’ve tasted in quite a while. The word formidable was noted.

Greystone is a local winery we can all be justly proud to have at our doorstep.

Greystone Sauvignon Blanc 2015 $19.99

Wild yeast fermented in older oak with some malo-lactic and time on lees makes this more an ‘alternative’ style of Sauvignon Blanc. There is a whiff of smokiness with tropical fruits – pineapple, golden kiwifruit. There is also plenty of mouthfeel/texture and a firm streak of acidity. A very good Sauvignon Blanc, that would match many different foods.

Greystone Sea Star Riesling 2016 $19.99

The drier of the two styles of Riesling Greystone produce (3 gms rs).The clay based soils give weight and texture and this is quite a fleshy style. Flavours are in the citrus/lime and apple zone.

Greystone Pinot Gris 2015 $19.99
Michael Cooper describes this as, “one of the finest Pinot Gris in the country.” Around half the wine is fermented in older oak with plenty of lees stirring. Dom wants to get plenty of texture in the wine. This is rounded, slightly oily, lanolin-like with just a hint of sweetness (10gms rs) with Autumnal fruits – peach/pear flavours.

Greystone Chardonnay 2015 $32.99

We were so excited by this wine on its release late last year that we awarded this our “Chardonnay of the Year”. Hand-picked whole bunch-pressed with 5% foot-crushed; wild yeast ferment, followed by 100% malo-lactic and aged 11 months in 27% new small barriques. Gorgeous aromas of nuts, fig, citrus, subtle 5 spice. Any smokiness is well integrated. The palate is generous, luscious even, with savoury notes emerging. There is great length on this that really lingers. Still love it!

Greystone Erin’s Reserve Chardonnay 2015 $93.00

The third vintage release for this label. This comes from the Mendoza clone Chardonnay vines planted on the limestone soils of the “Brothers Block’ on the higher part of the hillside. This is a very impressive wine that just fills the palate and the flavour lingers long. You can taste the limestone chalkiness, along with sizzled corn, savoury notes, white peach.. the list goes on; and then there is the weight, intensity, solidity and power on the palate.The wine builds on the palate then just lasts and lasts. A very limited production of just 3 barrels (44 cases) means this formidable wine will be very sought after.

Greystone Syrah 2015 $39.99

Waipara is at the edges of where Syrah can grow. This is from a small north facing block on limestone and harvested in late May. Quite dark and savoury, earthy rich, with blackcurrant, violets, fennel, smooth tannins.

Greystone Pinot Noir 2015 $34.99

Pinot Noir is the most planted variety at Greystone (45% of the total plantings) and where they obviously “hang their hat”.  The vineyards for this are mainly from the clay soils of the lower slopes giving the wines texture and weight with some portions of limestone laced soils adding precision and minerality. A darkly coloured wine with aromas of cherry, plum, truffle and earth. There is a great balance between the palate suppleness of sweet plummy fruits and the tension of minerality and fine tannins.

Greystone Vineyard Fermented Pinot Noir 2015

For the first time, Greystone have made a special single bottling of the vineyard fermented Pinot Noir. A technique developed by Greystone where the wine is fermented in vats in the vineyard. The source and type of ambient (wild) fermenting yeasts is the subject of much conjecture and now research. It seems that vineyards may have their own unique yeasts. In an effort to be as true to the vineyard site as possible in a world first, Dom has been experimenting with not just starting a ferment in the vineyard, but actually doing the whole ferment in a vat, in the vineyard; exposed to the natural elements and variable temperatures. Previous vintages have all been blended into the Estate Pinot Noir. This is the first time that Greystone have made a separate bottling, albeit on a very small scale .. only 36 bottles, so this was a rare and special treat to taste this wine. Although this is about having just the natural vineyard yeasts perform the fermentation, there is much more to it. The fermentation also reflects what is actually happening in the vineyard during that time especially with temperature fluctuations as well as being fermented fully on skins. The wine tastes quite different to the Estate bottling and the Brothers Reserve. There is  a real earthiness, chewy but fine tannins and plenty of complexity. The term ‘grounded’ easily came to mind. Sorry none available for sale.

Greystone Thomas Reserve Pinot Noir 2015 $93.00

Like the Reserve Chardonnay, this is also from the highest block high on the vineyard where the grapes were hand selected on the vine and at the winery fully de-stemmed. 25% of the wine was fermented in the vineyard. The wine was aged in 70% new French oak for 15 months before being  bottled naturally with no fining, filtration or stabilisation. This is a big mouthful of ‘everything’ – a wonderful expression of Pinot Noir with finesse, power, layers of complexity. More lifted and less earthy than the vineyard ferment only wine, but still more savoury than fruity. Although weighty and structured, there is a smooth flow through the palate. A very special wine with a very small amount produced.