The Hermit Ram, Zealandia Sauvignon Blanc, 2021
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
A Sauvignon Blanc that ferments on skins, macerating for six weeks before being sent to stainless steel tanks and Spanish amphora to rest for 8 months. Take everything you know about New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (Kim Crawford, Oyster Bay, etc.) and literally forget it because this is unlike any example of this country's "savvy b" that you've ever had. Textural in all the best ways, sorta crunchy, sorta zippy like a cooler, lighter version of an orange wine. Citrus, passionfruit, fennel-herbal notes, yellow plum and peppery spice are having a wild party on the palate with an intense but quaffable saline minerality. Unfined and unfiltered but so pure and clear. One of the most compelling wines of the year.