The Damsteep vineyard is aptly named. Located about 10kms north of the Home Block on the eastern side of the main highway. Formerly known as the Spye vineyard, Black Estate purchased this in 2012 and have converted it to organics. The steep clay slopes are planted in several blocks. The Riesling is on the lower slopes. The fruit was hand harvested then gently slow pressed with a portion fermented in older oak. All naturally fermented with very low Sulphur addition and for the first time this wine is unfiltered so it will appear slightly cloudy in the glass.
Winery notes (2019 Vintage)
"Fruit for this Riesling is sourced from our Damsteep Vineyard which is located in the north east of Waipara Valley at the foot of the Omihi saddle in North Canterbury. This hillside vineyard was planted in 1999 on clay and limestone rich soils. The soils in the Riesling vineyard are very dense clay brown to orange in colour and inter bedded with sandstones and subordinate limestone horizons. This 2.2 hectare hillside vineyard has a vine density of more than 5000 vine per hectare and is planted with GM110, GM198 and GM239 clones on 101-14 rootstock. It is certified organic with BioGro.
62 percent foot crushed with up to 24 hours skin soak. Whole bunch pressed using a long and gentle press cycle. Fermented without settling the juice in small stainless steel tanks and old 500L barrels (42%). Yeast used for fermentation was propagated from a Damsteep vineyard starter. Fermentation lasted for 3 months at between 10- and 18 degrees centigrade then the wine matured on lees for a further 6 months. The parcels were then combined in tank, sulphites added then bottled without fining or filtration.
Electric and invigorating. A great year for Riesling – beautiful clusters with no botrytis so picking was a dream. We had great ferments that cruised through to dry. Fresh and complex aromas, weight and texture on the palate from this clay vineyard with vibrant and long acidity. Our driest Riesling ever and for the first time we did not need to filter the wine which left more intrinsic complexity. Unfined and minimal sulphur added just at bottling."
4 Stars Michael Cooper (2019 Vintage)
"Certified organic, the 2019 vintage is a dry style (1.8 grams/litre residual sugar), given an extended period of lees aging in stainless steel tanks and some old barrels. Pale straw, with yeasty aromas, it is full-bodied, with generous, ripe stonefruit and spice flavours, a hint of ginger, and good complexity and harmony. A distinctive wine, it’s already quite expressive and likely to be at its best 2021+."
Reviews for previous vintages below…
Yvonne Lorkin, January 2020 (2018 Vintage)
"Deep clay and limestone soils are responsible for turning out certified organic riesling that’s both clean yet rich and creamy to consume. Golden in the glass and perfumed with baked apple, manuka honey and citrus notes, it’s a beautifully balanced, fresh and crunchy, characterful riesling that has loads of juiciness and a long, apple-driven finish."
95/100 Mike Bennie, The Wine Front, June 2018 (2017 Vintage)
"Lovely perfume delivering sweet, candied citrus peel scents, whiffs of honeycomb, something almost akin to sea spray, a savouriness like blanched almonds. Lovely. So lovely, showing some gentle sweetness. A succulence to texture too and supreme length. Killer wine. Delicious."
94/100 Bob Campbell MW, The Real Review (2017 Vintage)
"From a steep, limestone-rich, hillside vineyard that was planted in 1999. This is a dry, gutsy riesling with a hint of bush honey, dried apricot, kaffir lime and toast supported by fruity acidity and peppery tannins. Flavoursome wine with weight and complexity."
93/100 Jamie Goode, August 2018 (2017 Vintage)
"From two hectares of Riesling, planted 1999, 4830 vines/ha, dense clay soils with some limestone. Wild ferment, extended lees contact in stainless steel and some old barrels. This is really nuanced and delicate, with lemon, tangerine and herb notes. Fine and expressive with nice texture and mouthfeel. Dry but not at all harsh: there’s a lovely weight to this wine. So fine and expressive."