In 2012 Theo Coles discovered the Limestone Hills vineyard in Canterbury in the north of New Zealand’s South Island. Owned by Gareth Renowdon, Theo agreed to make some wine with him from his 1000 or so Pinot Noir vines. Limestone Hills vineyard is naturally farmed, and the first vintage (2012) was that way too — no additions and matured in old oak.
Since then Theo has expanded the range to include the skin fermented Sauvignon Blanc and Müller-Thurgau, a field blend rosé and another Pinot Noir. The fruit comes from tiny vineyards throughout the Canterbury region, all naturally farmed without chemicals and Theo is keen to stress that every wine has its own story to tell. We agree and would add that this is some of the most exciting wine to come out of New Zealand for a long time; a turning point for authentic, artisan winemakers in a country so often associated with mass-produced wine. These are wines with personality, depth, complexity and most importantly, drinkability.
Müller Thurgau is often described as the ‘forgotten grape of New Zealand’. Despite being planted widely in the 1980s, it is now quite rare to see, mostly due to vineyards being grubbed up to plant Sauvignon Blanc. Theo’s Ancestral is from some of these vines, with the fruit coming from some of the oldest vineyards in Canterbury (35+ years). The yield is very low, the intensity is off the charts.
The grapes are fermented in whole cluster in open top fermentation tanks, and were pressed after 2 weeks of carbonic maceration. As this is made as a Pétillant Naturel, some juice is kept back and frozen so it can be added back to the wine just prior to bottling to allow the second fermentation to take place in the bottle.
Oenologist: Theo Coles
Alcohol Grade: 12.5%
Size: 750 ml