Joelle Thomson

Author, journalist, writer

Month: September 2017 (page 2 of 8)

Top drop at $120… reach for the stars Syrah

Meet the best yet… 2015 Trinity Hill Homage 19/20

Best Homage yet because it’s all about fruit elegance, silkyness and the notion that less is more. This is a Hawke’s Bay Syrah of real beauty. 


The story of Homage

Trinity Hill winery has a big name and its wines have a reputation for living up to the moniker that bigger is better, so I was impressed this month to try a new wine that is bigger on balance than it is on bells and whistles. The wine is called Homage and it is better than every other Homage I have tried (it was first made in 2004), thanks to relying more on the beauty of fruit flavour than on the architecture that oak can provide to wines. It’s incredibly refreshing to taste a wine that stands on elegance and restraint rather than acquiring flavour from other sources.

For this reason I am giving the new 2015 Trinity Hill Homage a massive score of 19/20; I don’t award 19 out of 20 often so this is a high score that I take incredibly seriously.

Homage was first made in 2004 by John Hancock, founder of Trinity Hill Wines, who was inspired by Jaboulet in Tain l’Hermitage in the northern Rhone Valley, which he visited in 1981. He met Gerard Jaboulet and his father, Louis, and was strongly drawn to the Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle – one of the world’s great Syrahs. It’s a wine that can age for decades, changing over time to evolve away from its impressive deep purple colour, massively body and structure into an elegant wine of spice, dark fruit, clove-like flavours with notes of black pepper and white pepper (chemical compounds in the Syrah grape that are natural identical to those we know of in pepper).

Syrah is one of the world’s greatest and most under rated grapes. Many people do rate it highly but it has not traditionally held as great a sway as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, despite which it has frequently offered – and still does – far better value for money and greater consistency in its traditional Rhone Valley homeland.

And wines such as the latest Homage are shining a new light on the potential of Syrah in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Bravo, Trinity Hill.


Kiwi bubbles wow the world…

Hunter’s Wines has been awarded Best New Zealand Sparkling Wine for the third year running at this year’s Sparkling Wine World Championships for the third year in a row…

The Marlborough bubbly was celebrated at a retrospective tasting in Auckland this month to mark the 20th year of production. Jane Hunter of the eponymous winery says production of MiruMiru will grow, but will be capped – “The resources tied up in making high end sparkling wine are so big so that it’s best for us to continue focussing strongly on quality as well as growing the quantity a little,” she said at the tasting.

“MiruMiru is the jewel in the crown of our winemaking and I have watched production grow over the past years as well as the range expand from the Reserve MiruMiru to include Non Vintage and Rosé,” she says.

Hunter collected the trophy for Best Sparkling Wine for the 2013 MiruMiru Reserve at the Vintner’s Hall in London last week. Hunter also received two gold medals at the event for the Hunter’s MiruMiru Non Vintage, and the 2013 Hunter’s MiruMiru Reserve.

The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships is the most comprehensive international sparkling wine competition in the world and was founded in 2014. All wines are tasted blind at the competition, which is judged by Tom Stevenson, Essi Avellan MW and Dr Tony Jordan, who also consults to Hunter’s Wines.


Contact Hunter’s Wines here:

Vineyard tales… young, winning and able

Young North Island winemakers compete in national final

The national final of this year’s annual Tonellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year will be held in Auckland tomorrow; Wednesday 20 September with North Islanders Sara Addis from Trinity Hill Winery and Tom Hindmarsh from Dry River Wines competing against their South Island counterparts.

North Island winners were put to test at the Eastern Institute of Technology School of Viticulture and Oenology last month. Tests included wine blending, lab analysis, pitching the blend to a panel of judges, cellar competency, wine fault finding, public speaking and general wine knowledge.

The final challenge was a blind tasting wine options at Church Road Winery where contestants tasted four wines without knowledge of the wines’ identities. Winner, Sara Addis, works part time at Trinity Hill and is a student at EIT, studying a double graduate diploma in viticulture and oenology. She has worked a number of vintages, including one at Moet & Chandon, Champagne in 2016 and as a cellar hand at Cloudy Bay, Marlborough.

The judges comprised of well-known and respected winemakers from Hawkes Bay, including Tony Bish, Damian Fischer, Kate Radburnd, Ant McKenzie, Barry Riwai and Simon Nash MW.

The North Island competition was organized by five volunteers from the Hawke’s Bay wine industry, including 2015 Tonellerie de Mercurey New Zealand Young Winemaker winner Lauren Swift from Ash Ridge Wines, Hannah Burns from Craggy Range, Haley La Franco from La Franco Ltd, Sophie Harris from Rod McDonald Wines and Shaun La Franco from EIT.

“It is brilliant to see this competition become an annual event. We are such a young winemaking nation and it is important to recognise the next generation of winemakers we have coming through the ranks,” says Hannah Burns, of Craggy Range.

“I would like to thank our National Sponsors; Tonellerie de Mercurey, OI, Vintech Pacific, Farmlands and Laffort, along with our Regional Sponsors; Hawkes Bay Wine Co., Air NZ, EIT, Viniquip, Staples Rodway, Guala Closures, Charta Packaging, Pan Print, Glyn Rees-Jones Real Estate, Buzz Electric, Farmex and Breezing. Finally a huge thank you to our judges who gave up a day in the winery to be involved with the competition. We would also like to thank all the wineries who donated wines to the dinner event. Without all this generosity, this competition would not be possible.”

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