The “golden summer” wines of Halcyon Days
Hailing from Hawke’s Bay in Aotearoa (or as we more commonly know it, New Zealand), Halcyon Days wines are stunning examples of the new wave of New Zealand natural wines. They feature a stunning melange of fruit and a complexity of layers with a light fresh acidity. Wines that are driven to stain your palate with the terroir of the grapes.
Amy and Olly source their organic grapes from biogro certified vineyards in the Mangatahi and Bridge Pa subregions of Hake’s Bay, bordered by the Ngaruroro river. At an altitude a few hundred metres above sea level, the cooler climate produces a sharper acid content with lighter alcohol and body, preserving the balanced fruit palate. As the vineyards are loam over red gravel alluvial soils, each drop features a fresh minerality.
Amy and Olly attribute the uniqueness of their wines to “[their] relationship to [their] place,” valuing the terroir of the vineyards highly in the vinification processes. Processes which are firmly natural leaning: handpicking, fermenting with natural yeasts, and foregoing fining and filtration. In these methods, they focus on making really good wine – and indeed, Amy and Olly express their desire for a movement away from the term “natural” having a definite, specific focus, and more simply an “emphasis on the organic” combined with the output of just “really delicious, quality wines.”
I asked the couple to share a few words about their newest releases. Their next release will be “Veil,” 200L of their 2020 “Kōtare” aged in an old barrel on ullage for over a year:
“we wanted to see what happened… we don’t think we got actually flor but it did get a veil for a while at least. We found this wine’s evolution in barrel very interesting, especially when compared to the Kōtare which was handled reductively post ferment.”
Keep an eye out for this wine on shelves in the coming weeks.
The truly poetic way in which this couple conceives of the sacred process of winemaking is captured in the concept of Halcyon Days themselves:
“The phrase “halcyon days” refers to a time when everything in the world was golden. It’s a phrase that has the connotation that there was once a time when everything was perfect and beautiful. It’s a fallacy, really, but that’s winemaking: attempting to encapsulate that golden halo that surrounds harvest time. In a way, you’re always drinking wine retrospectively, but that doesn’t stop you enjoying it now. That’s the contradiction of both nostalgia and pleasure: Halcyon Days.”
And with that, I implore you, find a bottle of Halcyon Days wines. Drink it slowly and enter into your own Halcyon Days. And when you’ve finished with your bottle, for more NZ natural wine, follow Amy and Olly’s recommendation to Amoise wines.
Article by: Ceren Guler