Moko Hills is a 40ha family-owned estate encompassed within the foothills of the Dunstan Range, in the Central Otago wine subregion of Bendigo.
The vineyard blocks are embraced by a unique mix of native flora and fauna – Stands of kānuka (Kunzea ericoides) and kōwhai (Sophora microphylla) hugging the outcrops of quartz and schist. These trees acting as messengers between the land and anyone with a willingness to listen.
The flowering kōwhai signals the end of winter and approaching warmer weather. The bright yellow flowers, a stark contrast to the surrounding landscape palette, entice the awakening to its iridescent folds.
The kānuka waits for summer. Its small, white but intensely perfumed flowers are a signal that the neighbouring grapevines are about to begin the all-important period of flowering.
This is the peak of activity at Moko Hills. A deep and constant hum surrounds you – native bees, wasps, and beetles jut from one flower to the other, zigzagging along the hill slopes.
Among these iconic trees, a range of native shrubs, mosses and fungal communities intertwine, creating home and refuge for a range of endemic species. Lizards | Mokomoko, such as the kawarau gecko (Woodworthia sp.), bathe upon the sun-baked rock, blending into the mossy cover. Pairs of Fantails | Pīwakawaka (Rhipidura fuliginosa) dance between branches, snapping up the occasional insect.
The current landscape is a glimpse of the past and a reminder of what once stood. Acting as a signal of hope and a promise of the restoration efforts in the area.
The blocks range in elevation from 310 to 370m above sea level, elongating the maturity parameters of the fruit in a given season, increasing variability and subsequent complexity during a single harvest. The diversity of soils and its unique characteristics at Moko Hills creates an additional range of variables – pushing the parameters of complexity, and further driving the expression of the site within the fruit and subsequent wines.
Rock formations are prominent features across the landscape, comprising of schist and quartz. These rock formations act as shields to the strong spring winds, influencing microclimatic wind patterns, and promoting the deposition of windblown soils (Loess) in small, sheltered pockets. Below this loess lies evidence of the historical movement of colossal ice structures – the glacial ebb and flow from centuries past.
Bands of mineral-rich dark red and orange clays, acting as an aid to the retention of water in a dry climate, slowly releasing moisture during Central Otago’s warm and dry summers.
Adjacent, and sometimes mixed together, are large deposits of paedogenic lime (calcium carbonate), influencing soil pH and the subsequent availability and release of minerals to the searching vine roots.
Going much deeper, you begin to find free-draining bands of gravels and smooth river rock, helping retain soil and vine integrity during heavy rainfall. Dispersed pockets of silts and sands further influence soil variability.
The single vineyard wines produced signify a tribute to this diverse environment and the unique mix of flora and fauna that call Moko Hills home.
Candice Chow | Raymond Chan Wine Reviews
Moko Hills Chardonnay 2020
"The nose is bright and welcoming, with pure aromas of ripe stonefruit, citrus melded with toasted sesame, greek yoghurt, pastry and a hint of white floral. Medium-bodied, aromas of apricot and nectarine entwined with lemon sherbet, grapefruit and nectarine blossom, unveiling delicate spice, almond and a creamy underlay. The fruit is pure and raw, supported by a taut acid line. Creamy details linger and grow to a lightly nutty finish. This Chardonnay possesses natural and raw beauty showing a citrus, stonefruit core and acid tension with a balanced, creamy influence."
Moko Hills Chardonnay 2021
"Cool climate citrus aromas of lemons and lemon zest with high but balanced acidity adding length to the body of the wine. Tight focus with great length of flavour that lingers with every sip. Very good quality with lively depth and layers of flavour from stonefruit nectarines to citrus."
Candice Chow | Raymond Chan Wine Reviews
Moko Hills Pinot Noir 2020
"Moderately deep ruby-red, even colour throughout. This has a lifted, fragrant bouquet, elegantly presented with aromas of lavender, bergamot, cinnamon bark, orange zest, underlined blackberry and cherry. Medium-bodied, aromas of blackberry and cherry intertwined with black pepper, cinnamon, orange zest, and well-portioned nuances of lavender and bergamot linger to a lengthy, fragranced, savoury finish. The wine has a silky, alluring entry; delicately extracted tannins framed and structured the palate. The whole bunch element provides oodles of interesting spices and floral scents, lifting the bouquet with lacy acidity. This beautiful expression of Bendigo Pinot Noir shows complex and ethereal fragrances, spice and black fruit on a delicate, silky palate. Match with tea smoked duck and Perigord truffle over the next 6+ years."