Takahiro Koyama arrived in New Zealand in 2003 to study winemaking and while in the country starting working with acclaimed winemaker CP Lin at Mountford Estate, first as a cellarhand before taking the reins as Assistant Winemaker in 2006. Koyama Wines was launched while he was still at Mountford which he has since purchased in its entirety. It is one of a growing number of wineries showcasing the rare potential of Waipara in North Canterbury, which is still, inexplicably, a largely unknown quantity to many wine consumers. It is a region well worth exploring.
Koyama Mountford Vineyard Liaison Chardonnay 2020 $43
94 Points – Drink 2022 – 2027
This is a superb start to the wines from Takahiro Koyama. It’s the entry level so only up from here but this is still a superb chardonnay that plenty of kiwi winemakers would like as their top wine. It’s actually made from some of the oldest vines on the Mountford property but has had quite a gentle hand in the winery with wild ferment, low sulphur and extended time on lees. Pale golden in colour, it is a very fine and detailed chardonnay style – citrus, nectarine and chalky minerality lifted by nougat and vanillin oak influences. Exceptional balance stands out on the palate with a gently creamy texture supported by a long line of tangy acidity with floral notes coming through on an extended finish. Great energy in this wine and while delicious now it will also hold nicely over the medium term.
Koyama Mountford Estate Chardonnay 2015 $57
91 Points – Drink 2021 – 2023
An older release here from before Takahiro Koyama took full control of Mountford which still displays the North Canterbury hallmarks of fruit delicacy and detail. Medium gold in colour, there is some development here but still the fruit is bright and has plenty to give. Honey, marmalade and Crème Brûlée aromas with a lining of spicy oak. The palate is then dry and fresh with caramel, floral and tropical fruit flavours plus a lingering finish. A slightly angular edge to that acidity suggests best drinking will be sooner rather than later.
Koyama Mountford Vineyard Liaison Pinot Noir 2016 $43
93 Points – Drink 2021 – 2026
Crafted with fruit from a range of the Mountford Estate vineyards, this is a lightly coloured and delicately framed expression of pinot noir that is showing a little development. It’s beautifully fragrant and ethereal, with dark earth, five spice and raspberry fruits – a masterclass on pinot’s more delicate side. The palate enters more savoury territory with dried herbs and touches of animal skin well supported by cherry compote fruit. Acidity is strong and tannins sinewy making this a wine best enjoyed with seared duck breast.
Koyama Mountford Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir 2015 $67
94 Points – Drink 2021 – 2026
A step up here from the 2016 Liaison with more power and better depth of fruit to give a pinot that ticks all the boxes. A strong garnet colour is followed by impressive and perfumed dark cherry, ground spices with dark earthy tones and oak sitting in the background. Lovely balance follows on the palate with crisp acidity driving morello cherry, rhubarb and spicy flavours with a delicious meatiness that comes through right on the finish. A serious pinot showcasing the exceptional quality of the 2015 vintage.
Koyama Mountford Vineyard The Gradient Pinot Noir 2018 $108
96 Points – Drink 2025 – 2032
Now we are getting serious with the Koyama Single Vineyard Pinots which showcase North Canterbury’s rare quality with this variety. Deceptively light in colour, there is a haunting array of vibrant aromas – wild raspberry, undergrowth and slight gamey elements which provide an intriguing start. The palate then delivers a knockout blow with the classic steamroller in a velvet glove – immensely complex and at first delicate fruit that then builds layer upon layer of complex flavour. Pure silk in texture and underlined by streamlined acidity, the finish is long and enthralling, supported by fine tannins, tangy acidity and gentle oak. It’s also still a babe and will get even better over the next decade.
Koyama Mountford Vineyard The Rise Pinot Noir 2018 $108
98 Points – Drink 2021 – 2031
If you are looking for that pinot moment which shows all this variety has to offer then look no further than this Single Vineyard North Canterbury example, complete in every sense of the word.
Mid cherry in colour with some sediment thanks to no filtering and fining, it opens with beautifully ethereal aromatics; wild strawberry, Chinese five spice, mushroom and gamey notes set the scene – but there is plenty more where that came from. There is then a delicious core of fruits on the palate with wave after wave of concentrated spicy, red fruits. The texture is on point – a sublime mix of acidity, supple fruit and al dente tannins which provide the perfect base to what is First Class fruit complexity. Epic.