Joelle Thomson

Writer, author, journalist

Month: May 2017 (page 1 of 5)

Two heads better than one… a beer-wine collab tonight in Wellington

What do a Wairarapa winery and a Wellington brewery have in common? A tasting at Regional Wines at 6pm tonight will reveal all…

A winery and a brewery may seem like an odd couple to collaborate on making a tasty drink but tonight’s launch of of Pushmi and Pullyu may just prove they can be a marriage made you know where…

The winery in question is Gladstone Vineyard from Gladstone in the central Wairarapa and the brewery is the Yeastie Boys – a Wellington institution – which makes it fitting that the launch is to be held at another iconic capital city venue – Regional Wines & Spirits in Elice Street by the Basin Reserve.

The new drink is all about pushing boundaries, says winemaker Christine Kernohan and the collaboration is an aim to encourage New Zealanders to see wine and beer in a new light, as both creative, interchangeable and unique, says Stu McKinlay of Yeastie Boys.

“People tend to label themselves as either wine or beer people. Wine has trouble breaking out of its very traditional box and beer has trouble being taken seriously as something more than a BBQ accompaniment.”

The collaboration was initially conceived to raise money for the Arts Foundation.

Pushmi… 13.5% ABV, RRP $31.50, 750 ml

Pushmi is a co-fermented Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, which were fermented together in 50% older barrels to add weight to the wine, some of which was then kept on  lees for an extended period with fortnightly stirring to promote palate weight.

Pullyu… 7% ABV, RRP $18.40, 750ml

Pullyu is a strong white ale made using a portion of Gladstone Vineyard’s Pushmi white wine with malts and hops, which create flavours of spice, cereal and floral notes.

RRP $18.40 (750ml bottle)

It’s remote, it’s rural, it’s emerging as Pinot country

Central Hawke’s Bay is one of the most remote, least well known wine regions in New Zealand but a handful of wine producers is growing grapes in this relatively cool area, wedged as it is between the Bay and the Northern Wairarapa.

Three interesting wines from Central Hawke’s Bay landed on my desk last week and here are my thoughts from tasting the trio…

2014 Lauregan Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 13.5% ABV

Mike Old and Hazel Allan learnt the hard way that Pinot Noir and Central Hawke’s Bay are a happy combination, and this wine is the second vintage of Pinot success from their 1.4 hectare vineyard. Its deep ruby colour, powerful spicy aromas (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves), mushrooms and earth and red fruit flavours are all under pinned by its dry style, full body and satisfying long finish.

Their little Lauregan vineyard is at Elsthorpe, in Central Hawke’s Bay.

It is very good quality with more body, power and intensity than many Pinot Noirs from the relatively cool climate and relative tiny wine region of Central Hawke’s Bay. It drinks well now and shows potential for further aging of up to 5 to 6 years.


2013 Lauregan Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 14.5% ABV

This is the first vintage of Pinot Noir from the small 1.4 hectare hillside vineyard owned by Mike Old and Hazel Allan in Central Hawke’s Bay, and it’s a fitting debut to the couple’s long held dream to make great wine at a fair price. The 2013 vintage was one of the best in New Zealand’s modern wine history, thanks to the long dry summer of bright sunny days, which ended in a long dry autumn; great conditions for grape growing, in other words. While Pinot Noir is a relatively early ripening red grape variety, it benefitted from this vintage big time, which is obvious the second you taste this full bodied Pinot Noir, which has big smooth tannins and concentrated aromas of spice (cinnamon, nutmeg and clove) combined with red fruit flavours of cherry and plums. It drinks well now and will further improve.

2013 Lauregan Single Vineyard Sangiovese 13% ABV

It’s refreshing to see Sangiovese from Central Hawke’s Bay and it has long been the dream of vignerons Mike Old and Hazel Allan, who initially devoted their 1.4 hectares of hillside vineyard to this classic Italian grape, which is one of the most planted in Italy. This full bodied, dry and succulent Sangiovese has all the hallmarks of good quality Italian wines, including its classic attributes of high tannins, high acidity and juicy red fruit flavours. It drinks well now and can hold for several years to come. While only small amounts were made, the vineyard has now been predominantly grafted over to Pinot Noir, which is a significantly earlier ripening grape than Sangiovese, and is therefore potentially better suited to this central Hawke’s Bay vineyard site, however, Sangiovese remains a work of love on this vineyard  for Mike and Hazel.

All Lauregan wines are sealed with Diam corks.

Wines of the week…

A surprising couple of wines made the cut at today’s weekly tasting at Regional Wines in Wellington. It’s a staff in house tasting organised by yours truly each week, which means it is a collection of interesting wines we stock – and don’t stock – in order to highlight the new, the interesting, the great value, the collectibles and anything else that comes across our paths.

The reason I described these wines as surprising is that they were the clear  stand outs of the week and they also happened to be the lowest priced of all the wines we tasted. Unlike many wines of their type, this pair are also dry whites from our biggest wine region here in New Zealand (which means we’re talking Marlborough). When it comes to the X factor, these two had it in spades. And if X factor sounds subjective, it was a unanimous analysis from a wide range of palates on our tasting panel and X factor here means they are a good drink.

2016 Konrad Dry Riesling $18.15

If you talk dry but drink sweet, try this very good dry Riesling from Marlborough, which is New Zealand’s biggest wine region and home to this fresh white with its flavours of limes, lemons, green apples and white peach. It’s medium dry (with 7 grams of residual sugar per litre of wine, putting it firmly in the technical category of ‘medium dry’) and its light body, long finish and succulent mouthfeel all add up to a wine we felt cruised easily into the category of ‘very good drink’ and ‘exceptionally good value for money’.

And our second winner this week was from the same winery…

2016 Konrad Sauvignon Blanc $17.50

We all agreed this complex Sauvignon Blanc has freshness to burn and a surprising degree of complexity for a wine with no overt oak character. The flavours here are of ripe peach, passionfruit, green apple, citrus and crushed nuts; it has great concentration, a medium body and a long finish to complete the picture of a dry white that over delivers for the $.

Both wines are open for tasting at the counter at Regional and, more importantly, available for purchase in the store.

The commercial aspect of wine is one that’s often glossed over in many critical and analytical wine reviews, but it’s the bottom line after all: wine is made to sell and to make a living for someone. This pair are a couple of tasty whites that I feel are easy to recommend as genuinely very good value for money and a great drink. Which is what it’s all about.

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