The Hermit Ram, Zealandia Pinot Noir, 2020
North Canterbury, New Zealand
“It all began in 2002 when I stumbled across an etching of a large gnarly looking ram standing in a field during my travels. He was defiant, a little savage, had an old world charm and was very New Zealand. I bought him, had him framed and hung him up in my lounge. Ten years later, I happened across Gareth Renowden, the owner of the Limestone Hills vineyard in the Waipara Gorge. Along with a truffiere, he had 1000 Pinot Noir vines planted on beautiful active limestone soil. He wanted help making some wine. After a walk and a talk, we agreed to make the wine together. I thought, “at least I’ll have some decent Pinot to drink…” Gareth’s vineyard ticks all the boxes: it is close planted, naturally farmed, and small. I made the first vintage of Pinot Noir in 2012, all naturally, no additions and matured in neutral oak hogsheads. As the wine progressed through maturation it got better and better, and revealed its true vineyard character to me. It had an exciting mix of savory fruit aromatics and salivating salty acidity. I had to bottle it. I was sitting on my couch contemplating how I’d present the wine in bottle and I looked up. There staring me in the face was the framed etching of the Ram. It all made sense. So ‘The Hermit Ram’ came into being. He summed up the ethos of working with tiny sites and ancient techniques applied to New Zealand flavors that I really wanted to pursue. Today, the range of wines has expanded. In general, the fruit comes from tiny vineyards throughout the Canterbury region of New Zealand. Every wine has its own story to tell. The vines are naturally farmed and the wines made with the minimal amount of additions. Old techniques are employed. They are wines of depth, complexity, individuality and most importantly, drinkability.” – Theo Coles, Winemaker, The Hermit Ram
Pinot Noir started the journey for Theo and the impression this bottling leaves with you is the loudest and clearest testament to the quality of this project. Fruit is hand harvested from gravel, limestone and clay vineyards. A total of six weeks skin maceration before getting pressed off to mature in tank and Spanish amphora (tinajas) before a transfer to a variety of old barrels for a year of aging. Spicy with fine tannins over top of a rocky, gravelly shot across the palate. There's an abundance of fruit - namely blackberry - that overarches finer hints of vanilla. This is serious stuff but with an untamed, wild edge that disrupts the narrative of Pinot Noir being too intimidating or only for serious wine drinkers.