Lime Hill Vineyard: a rising star

The Lime Hill vineyard. Wine NZ

A few years ago I visited Johner Estate in Gladstone with the owner, Karl Johner. After a tasting of the Johner wines, Karl revealed that he was about to plant vines in a very special hillside plot. We drove up to a north-west facing hillside site about 200 meters above sea level. The aspect was great, the soils even greater – a thin layer of clay over limestone-rich sub-soils. Karl was clearly very excited about the potential of this 1.3-hectare site.

I have now tasted Lime Hill Chardonnay from the 2017, 2018 and 2019 vintages, which averaged 95 points.

In partnership with his winemaker, Raphael Burki, they planted chardonnay and pinot noir in 2013. Five years later I received a sample of 2017 Lime Hill Pinot Noir, a challenging vintage to launch a new wine brand. The wine was light in colour and weight but had wonderful purity and delicacy. It was a flying start.

A year later I tasted 2017 Lime Hill Chardonnay. It was a knockout.

“Rich, weighty chardonnay with a strong salt, mineral, toast, hazelnut and spicy oak character. Impressive wine with power and length together with a great texture,” I wrote at the time, awarding the wine 95 points.

I have now tasted Lime Hill Chardonnay from the 2017, 2018 and 2019 vintages, which averaged 95 points.

The 2018 Lime Hill Chardonnay attracted my highest score of 96 points. I wrote:

“Deliciously moreish chardonnay with purity and subtle power. Attractive citrus, chalk, and subtle stone fruit flavours with a seasoning of ginger, cashew nut and spicy oak. A taut, refined wine with appealing fruit sweetness and a very lengthy finish.”

I have only tasted one more vintage of Lime Hill Pinot Noir, the yet-to-be-released 2018 Lime Hill Pinot Noir, Wairarapa, which earned 95 points and the following comments:

“Bright, taut, focused pinot noir with red cherry, violet and chalky-mineral flavours. High energy wine with a perfect balance of alcohol sweetness and fruity acidity. A pristine wine with good cellaring potential.”

The 2019 Lime Hill Chardonnay and 2018 Lime Hill Pinot Noir can be purchased from Caro’s Wines in Auckland for NZD $44.99.

I recommend stocking up on both wines. Quantities are small and the future is very bright.

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