Joelle Thomson Writer

Author, journalist, speaker

Month: November 2017 (page 2 of 3)

Pegasus Bay fun run fundraiser for brain research

One of New Zealand’s most beautifully landscaped wineries and vineyards is launching a new fun run, which doubles as a fundraiser for the NZ Brain Research Institute, and is to be held on Sunday 28 January 2018.

It’s the brainchild, if you’ll forgive the pun, of the Donaldson family, who founded and own Pegasus Bay Winery in North Canterbury.

On having fun while running…

While the words fun and run may not always be uttered in the same breath, both are key to the success of the inaugural event on Sunday 28 January 2018, says Mike Donaldson, one of the organisers. He and his co-organiser and sister in law, Di Donaldson, are encouraging people to dress up and pack a picnic to enjoy on the expansive lawns of the winery, following the run. Wine will be available for purchase following the run and all participants of the run who are 18 years of age and over, will receive a bottle of Pegasus Bay wine to take home; it’s part of the ticket price.

The run or walk options…

The initial run at Pegasus Bay includes a 6 kilometre and a 10 kilometre run / walk. It may grow into a half marathon in the future.

Where the run will go… 

The run will wind its way through the Pegasus Bay Winery’s vineyard and landscaped  gardens, which are planted extensively in flowers, natives, around a lake and a vegetable garden.

The future… 

Di and Mike hope to grow the event in the future, adding other run options (possibly a half marathon) and increasing numbers. They want the first run to attract modest numbers to enable them to host a successful and fun event, which they can build up over time.

“We want to make it a great experience for everyone involved and to raise money for the BRI and then we can build it up over time, in a similar way to how Saint Clair winery in Marlborough has built up their annual marathon.”

On fund raising…

The fundraiser aspect is another key component of the run, which is important to the family because winery co-founder Ivan Donaldson has had an extensive career as an associate professor and consultant neurologist.

His book The Truant from Medicine also raised funds for the New Zealand BRI and is available from www.pegasusbay.com

The details… Vine run…

Sunday 28 January 2018, 10am

Pegasus Bay Winery front lawns – participants can choose to run or walk 6kms or 10kms

Find out more at www.vinerun.co.nz

 

Bridge Pa Wine Fest’ tickets on sale…

Tickets are officially on sale for the annual Bridge Pa Wine Festival on Saturday, 20 January 2018.

The day long festival features eight wineries as well as food and local entertainment at each one. Wineries include Abbey Estate, Alpha Domus, Ash Ridge, Ngatarawa, Oak Estate, Paritua, Redmetal Vineyards and Sileni Estates, each with wine tastings, food and local entertainment.

The Bridge Pa Triangle Wine District extends over more than 2,000 hectares on the western side of the Heretaunga Plains in Hawke’s Bay. It is characterised by three different soil types, each free draining, overlying red metal alluvial gravels, which are recognised for producing some of New Zealand’s top red wines.

Buses will operate connections between each of the wineries in the Bridge Pa Triangle throughout the day, allowing festival goers to visit as many wineries as they choose. Each of the wineries is located less than five minutes’ drive apart.  

“We are thrilled to present this annual event to wine lovers in the region – and visitors – once again. With eight mini festivals in one, what better way to spend a day out with friends or visit the region during Wellington’s anniversary weekend,” says festival spokesperson Paul Ham.

Festival details…

The 2018 Bridge Pa Wine Festival begins at 10am and finishes at 6pm. Tickets are available from Eventfinda from $38 per person and include access to all wineries, a festival glass and use of the hop on/ hop off buses throughout the day. Tickets are also available from Napier, Taradale, Havelock North and Hastings with transport beginning at 9.30am from each of the areas.

The Bridge Pa Festival Facebook page @bridgepawinefestival will provide regular updates and full details of the day .

5 top drops… wines I never thought I would love

A dead French novelist once wrote that real discoveries are not about seeing new people, places or things, but seeing the same people, places and things with new eyes.

Apparently, he was quoting someone else but I’ve always liked the idea. And it’s been top of mind in the last three weeks of travel, tasting and writing; here are the 5 most surprising wines that I gave high wine scores to in tastings.

La Marca was first made in 1968  and is now available   in New Zealand.

 

Prosecco

La Marca Prosecco $26 to $28

Joelle’s rating: 17.5/20

Meet La Marca, which is new to New Zealand this month and is a cooperative wine made from grapes grown by over 5000 growers who sell their grapes to 9 cooperative wineries to produce this bubbly. It was first made in 1968 and was awarded a ‘Top 100 wines of the year’ by Wine Spectator magazine in 2007, which is pretty surprising given the light citrus flavours, frizzante style fizziness (i.e., not fully sparkling as a champagne is) and the lack of sweetness (1.7 grams per litre of grape sugar makes this wine bone dry – a big contrast to many Proseccos). Perhaps this is exactly what I like about La Marca – it’s dry, it’s fresh, it’s too easy to drink. Forget cider. I’ll opt for a Prosecco like this one any day.

 

Pinot Gris

2016 Mahana Estates Pinot Gris $25 to $29

Joelle’s rating: 18.5/20

Pinot Gris pales into significance when positioned next to its terpene fuelled kin, such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer, says winemaker Michael Glover, who decided to change his methods in making wine from Pinot Gris by seeing it as a copper coloured grape rather than a white one.

Blood Moon Pinot Gris is the result. He gave the wine four days of pre fermentation skin contact, which has unlocked doors of flavour that might have been closed to Pinot Gris if made along traditional lines, with no skin contact. This is the best Pinot Gris I have ever tried (and there have been dinner parties devoted to Pinot Gris in my honour; to try and turn my head and heart onto the best Gris from around the world). This wine is fresh, dry, medium bodied, smooth and flavoursome with savoury tastes of spice, nuts and ripe orange, with refreshing acidity to carry it to a lingering conclusion. I had to check it out over three days to see if it really was that good – it is. Best Pinot Gris ever.

Buy it here: https://shop.mahana.nz/product/Mahana-Pinot-Gris1

 

Sauvignon blend

2016 Brancott Estate Reflection Sauvignon $60

Joelle’s rating: 18.5/20

Brancott Estate is a big company pumping out vast volumes of white wine, mostly from Marlborough, so it’s hard to see what could be done differently with yet another Sauvignon Blanc from the region that is drowning in the stuff. This wine is deliciously different, thanks to winemaker Patrick Materman’s innovative blend of 52% Sauvignon Blanc and 48% Sauvignon Gris (a natural mutation of Sauvignon Blanc). It was officially released in late October 2017 to coincide with the launch of a new eight metre high iron sculpture, designed by New York based designer Dror Benshetrit, who also designed the label on this bottle. Like the sculpture, the wine makes a big statement; it’s dry, smoky and intense with flavours of lemon grass, grapefruit and oak – only 150 cases were made and it’s also available in a magnum; both bottle sizes are sealed with screw caps. I had to eat my silent words when tasting this wine because I wondered what could work well about blending Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris from Marlborough but this blend works beautifully with the succulence of Sauvignon Blanc being balanced by Gris’ fresh green flavours. Oak fermentation adds weight and depth but the fruit flavours taste stunning in this wine.

Buy it here: https://www.brancottestate.com/en-nz/visit-our-vineyard

 

New look for an old classic

2015 La Vieille Ferme Cote du Ventoux $20 to $25

Joelle’s rating: 17.5/20

It’s one of those cheapies you buy for the first time when budget rules all your buying decisions, but La Vieille Ferme (‘the old farm’) has come along in fruity leaps and savoury bounds since I last tried it about five years back, which was why  importer Mark Young of Vintners New Zealand suggested I take a new look at this old classic.

Today the old farm tastes brand new with a touch of savouriness balanced by fresh red fruit flavours and a smooth, light body. It’s a long way from the dusty austerity that held this wine back in the past and I can’t help but think the screw cap plays a large part in delivering this lovely French red in a fresh-is-best style.

 

Sauvignon from tricky vintage

2017 Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc $27

Joelle’s rating: 18.5/20

The 2017 harvest will be remembered as short, sharp and shocking in many parts of New Zealand. It only lasted 21 days in Marlborough, but challenging times call for innovative solutions and the Dog Point winemaking team chose theirs by spending more time in the vineyard than usual, where they indulged their Sauvignon Blanc vines to early shoot removal and crop thinning so that 2017 was, for them, “a very low harvest” with impressive fruit flavours.

The proof is in the bottle. It’s bone dry, intensely citrusy and fleshy with green fruit and herb flavours underpinned by refreshing but balanced high acidity, finishing with complex nutty flavours.

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