Wine Reviews

Bellbird Spring Muté “Les Epices” 2016  91points “A blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Muscat that's partially fermented and then fortified with brandy to 17.5% alcohol, the 2016 Mute Les Epices is fun in a bottle. Flamboyantly spicy, it combines hints of roses, ginger and pepper with pineapple and stone fruit to create a full-bodied, sweet (85 grams per liter of residual sugar) drink. This would work wonders with various cheeses.” Wine Advocate. Issue 235 (Feb 2018), Joe Czerwinski.

Bellbird Spring Block Eight Waipara Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (not yet released)

This distinctive wine is hand-picked and fermented with indigenous yeasts in old oak barriques. The 2016 vintage (4.5*), barrel-matured for five months, is a bright, light yellow/green, mouthfilling wine with fresh, strong, ripely herbaceous flavours. A generous wine, with well-integrated oak adding richness and complexity, slightly buttery notes and excellent harmony, it's a drink-now or cellaring proposition. Michael Cooper, www.michaelcooper.co.nz, November 2017

Bellbird Spring Home Block White 2015

The 2015 vintage (3.5*) is a field blend of four aromatic grape varieties – Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat and Gewürztraminer – hand-picked at Waipara and fermented and lees-aged for five months in old oak barrels. Pale yellow, it is medium-bodied, with peachy, slightly spicy flavours, gentle sweetness, fresh acidity, a touch of complexity, and a smooth finish. Michael Cooper, www.michaelcooper.co.nz, November 2017

Bellbird Spring Muté 'L'Alouette' 2016

The 2016 vintage (4*) was made from late-picked Sauvignon Blanc, estate-grown at Waipara, fermented in old barrels and fortified with the estate's own pot still brandy. Light lemon/green, it is weighty (17.5 per cent alcohol) and very harmonious, with gentle, pear-like flavours, showing good complexity. A quietly satisfying, rather than dramatic, moderately sweet wine, (81 grams/litre of residual sugar), it's well worth trying. Michael Cooper, www.michaelcooper.co.nz, November 2017

Bellbird Spring Muté 'Les Epices' 2016

The delicious 2016 vintage (5*) is a Waipara blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Muscat, late-picked, fermented in old barrels and fortified with the estate's own pot still brandy. Light yellow, it's a distinctive wine, sturdy (17.5 per cent alcohol), rich and rounded, with pear, peach and spice flavours, sweet (85 grams/litre of residual sugar), complex and harmonious. It's already drinking well. Michael Cooper, www.michaelcooper.co.nz, November 2017

Bellbird Spring Pinot Noir Rosé 2016

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. Michael Cooper, www.michaelcooper.co.nz, November 2017

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. Michael Cooper, www.michaelcooper.co.nz, November 2017

Bellbird Spring Block 8 Pinot Gris 2015

The 2015 vintage (4*) is a medium style, barrel-aged for five months. Straw-hued, it has generous, peachy, slightly spicy and gingery flavours, showing good complexity, and a gently sweet, well-rounded finish. Ready. Michael Cooper, www.michaelcooper.co.nz, November 2017

Bellbird Spring Dry Pinot Gris 2016

Showing strong personality, the 2016 vintage (4.5*) is already drinking well. Fermented in old oak barrels, it is mouthfilling and fleshy, with concentrated, peachy, slightly spicy and buttery flavours, a slightly oily texture and a rich, dry finish. Michael Cooper, www.michaelcooper.co.nz, November 2017

Bellbird Spring Pinot Noir Rosé 2017

"Guy Porter and his family are all hands on deck when it comes to making this unique style of rosé.  100% pinot noir grapes are crushed and fermented ultra-dry in old oak barrels to add to the complexity and character.  Mineral-driven, peppery, lipsmackingly dry – it’s a lean, clean style that’ll work beautifully with slabs of crumbly aged cheddar." 4 stars. Yvonne Lorkin, www.yvonnelorkin.com, November 2017

Bellbird Spring Sous Voile 

Rating:93/100  “Produced in very limited quantities in 500-milliliter bottles is this oxidative-styled NV Sous Voile, the name referring to the fact that it is aged in old oak barrels "under a veil of yeast." Indeed, it has a nutty / toasty Jura or Sherry like character with notes of roasted almonds and praline over a core of baked apples and brine. The palate is full-bodied and rich, laden with savory, nutty flavors and a lift that comes from lively acidity and a beautiful saline quality. It finishes with wonderful length and depth. It is very singular and I personally love it!”  Lisa Perrotti-Brown, 1st Jun 2017, The Wine Advocate

Bellbird Spring Home Block White 2015 

Rating: 90  “Produced from a blend of aromatic varieties, the 2015 Home Block White has a fragrant white peach, honeysuckle and potpourri nose with hints of lemongrass and dried herbs. Light-bodied and off-dry, it possesses a wonderfully lively acid line, cutting through the intense, perfumed flavors, finishing with some exotic spices coming through.”  Lisa Perrotti-Brown, 1st Jun 2017, The Wine Advocate

Bellbird Spring Block Eight Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Rating: 90  “The 2014 Block Eight Sauvignon Blanc is redolent of warm peaches, baked apples and preserved lemons with touches of sauteed herbs and cedar.  Medium-bodied, it fills the mouth with understated citrus preserves and savory / toasty flavors, finishing with lingering dried herb nuances.”  Lisa Perrotti-Brown, 1st Jun 2017, The Wine Advocate

The Pruner's Reward Sauvignon Blanc 2016

"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." Michael Cooper 2017

The Pruner's Reward Pinot Noir 2013

"From Bellbird Spring, the 2013 vintage (3*) was matured for a year in French oak casks (15 per cent new). It is mouthfilling, with good depth of cherry, plum, herb and spice flavours, showing a touch of complexity, and a rounded finish. Drink now." Michael Cooper 2017

Bellbird Spring Block Eight Pinot Gris 2013

"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." Michael Cooper 2017

Bellbird Spring Block Eight Waipara Pinot Noir 2012

"The 2012 vintage (3.5*) has lightish, developed colour. Mouthfilling and supple, with cherry, plum, herb and nut flavours, it is savoury and finely textured. Ready." Michael Cooper 2017

Bellbird Spring Block Eight Sauvignon Blanc 2014

"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.)" Michael Cooper 2017

Bellbird Spring Home Block White 2013

"Showing greater complexity than most aromatic whites, the 2013 vintage (4.5*) is a single-vineyard, Waipara blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat and Gewürztraminer, hand-picked and fermented and lees-aged for five months in old oak barrels. Pale gold, it is full-bodied, with a strong surge of peachy, slightly spicy and gingery flavours, a splash of sweetness (20 grams/litre of residual sugar), and excellent complexity and richness. A medium style in the traditional Alsace mould, it's full of personality. Ready. The 2015 vintage (3.5*) was barrel-aged for five months and made in a medium style. Pale yellow, it is medium-bodied, with peachy, slightly spicy flavours, gentle sweetness, fresh acidity, a touch of complexity, and a smooth finish." Michael Cooper 2017

Bellbird Spring Pinot Noir Rosé 2016

"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." Michael Cooper 2017

Bellbird Spring River Terrace Pinot Noir 2012

"The 2012 (3.5*), matured for a year in French oak casks (15 per cent new), is a 'forward' vintage, with full, slightly developed colour, mouthfilling body, and very good depth of cherry and plum flavours, soft and harmonious. Ready." Michael Cooper 2017

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." Michael Cooper 2017