Joelle Thomson

Writer, author, journalist

Month: December 2017 (page 1 of 3)

The Friday wine interview… Jules from Q

Coffee and yoga are what get Jules Matthews out of bed each morning – and her role as the GM of Q Wines from the Waitaki Valley


What’s your favourite part of the day? 

JM: I love the early morning silence and serenity before others are about.

What inspires you each morning?

JM: Yoga and fresh coffee.

What trends do you see emerging with wine today?

JM: There has being a resurgence of rosé, which I love, especially if it is made from Pinot Noir. It captures the summer mood perfectly.

How has your wine drinking changed over the years? 

JM: Historically I was always a Chardonnay drinker but have also grown to love Pinot Noir and have always loved Champagne so now challenging my winemaker in making the best blanc de blanc possible.

What’s your favourite wine and music match or wine and food match?

JM: I will opt for the food match as I love experimenting with food and cooking lead me into wine. I love champagne and oysters; in fact the first time I hosted a tasting of Q Pinot Gris, it was alongside Bluff oysters – a perfect match.

What’s your favourite wine?

Chardonnay and I have become very selective as to which one.

When did you decide to dive in and work with wine?

JM: I started dabbling with wine education in the late ’90s and in 2005 I was presented with the opportunity to develop Q and it has grown from there.

What makes wine rewarding? 

JM: Each vintage brings its new challenges but I love the ability to enjoy wine with friends and great food. For me, working alongside interesting restaurants and the entrepreneurial owners is always a bonus.

Top 5 drops… wines to get you through the season

5 top drops that push the boat of flavour into deep waters of deliciousness…

As Justin Dry – our Friday interview this week – says: our favourite wines might be a very personal thing but no matter what they are, they always taste better when shared. And with the year drawing swiftly to a close (some of us are happy to see the back of it), it’s only fitting to share 5 top drops for the silly season.

These are my final 5 top drops of the week for 2017 but I will post the year’s top 10 wines (personal choices, that is) in the next week or two.

The following wines were selected from a combination of my work as wine writer (I get sent wine to review), wine lover (I put my money where my mouth is) and Wine Programme Director (writing and tastings) at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington, New Zealand.

So, without further chit chat, here they are – 5 top drops that really push the boat of deliciousness out into deep calm waters of great flavour.

Merry everything…

Spy’s top white… dry Riesling

2016 Spy Valley Envoy Dry Riesling Johnson Vineyard $32


It’s rare to find bone dry Riesling in New Zealand, especially when it’s fermented in old German oak ‘fuder’ (barrels) and has only ever been made four times.

Meet Envoy. Spy Valley’s top dry white is made from grapes grown on the sunny slopes of the Johnson Vineyard in the Waihopai Valley, Marlborough – a free draining site where stony soils mix with clay at a slight elevation, which means the vines get more  intense sunshine and, in good years, gain greater  aromatic flavour, thanks to careful harvest decisions from winemakers Paul Bourgeois and Richelle Collier.

All the grapes used in this wine were hand picked after being trained on two canes which were shoot and bunch thinned to restrict yields. They were fermented in old oak which does not imprint its own flavour on the wine, instead allowing it to shine with softness as well as the characteristic high but, in this case, beautifully balanced acidity, which stretches out this wine’s flavours to a long finish. Delicious.

Available from… specialist wine retailers.


Great Italian white

2015 Umani Ronchi Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi $23


Verdicchio is an indigenous Italian white grape that comes from the Marche region in central Italy – go to Tuscany, then head straight over to the east coast on the Adriatic Sea. It has the body of a fleshy big Chardonnay and the acidity of Chenin Blanc; speaking of which, great Verdicchios can also age superlatively, for those with the necessary will power. This accessibly priced white is just one of the growing number of Verdicchios available in New Zealand these days… It’s a fantastic dry white with full body and a long, succulent, intensely lemon zesty finish.

Available from… specialist wine retailers.


Dog Point Pinot

2015 Dog Point Marlborough Pinot Noir $47


The 2015 vintage was a great one in New Zealand with drier weather, lower rainfall and a warmer summer than most years, which eased the pressure on winemakers to pick grapes before their optimal window, and this is what makes the reds from that year so tasty. Like the year, this wine is dry, super concentrated in flavour (black cherries, savoury spice, hints of mushroom) and a full body. It drinks well now, but be sure to decant it and let the wine sit for two hours or more, before drinking. It also has outstanding potential to cellar well and evolve into an even more complex wine.

Available from…


Sauvignon with bells on

2014 Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Semillon $32


Old vines, oak fermentation, maturation on decomposing yeast cells… it may sound like an interesting combination of factors, but this wine is an outstanding dry white that rocks my boat with its full body, complex flavours of green fresh herbs, ripe tropical fruit and nutty flavours. Year in, year out, this wine ticks all the boxes with its full body, vibrant freshness and super concentration of flavour; not least thanks to being made from grapes grown on a north facing, 30 year old vineyard in North Canterbury. Both the Sauvignon Blanc and the Semillon spent a portion of time fermenting and aging in old oak barrels, which adds body, softness and builds the textural deliciousness into this wine.

Available from…


Top champagne

Bernandier Champagne NV $94.99


Ticks all the boxes – a champagne made by the grape grower, who hand picked all the grapes, used wild yeast fermentation and a combo of oak and stainless steel for fermentation, then aged it for two years in bottle, prior to disgorgement (six months longer than the legal minimum aging time in the Champagne region).

This is a 100% Chardonnay, hence it’s a blanc de blanc, and it is the best champagne that I have tasted so far this summer. Despite my personal preference for Pinot Noir dominant bubbles, this one  blew my mind – a champagne that is, like Bollinger and many other great wines, first and foremost, a wine – the bubbles add a je ne sais quoi.

Available from… specialist wine stores or Dhall & Nash.

Friday interview… wine is a personal experience, says Justin Dry

Justin Dry on why it’s easy for him to stay inspired every day…


What’s your favourite part of the day?

JD: Early arvo because that’s when late lunches (with awesome vino of course) happen.


What inspires you each morning?

JD: I’m a start up guy, so I love creating and growing early start businesses. And at Vinomofo, I head up global expansion so I get the opportunity to do this over and over again as we launch in each new market. Add to this the fact wine is my other main passion and you’ll understand why it’s so easy for me to stay inspired.

What trends do you see emerging with wine today?

JD: It’s no secret that conscious consumerism is a big one these days, so I think we’ll see continued growth with natural, organic, biodynamic and minimal interview wines. This is an area that we’ll be catering for more and more in 2018.

People are also becoming much more adventurous with their wine choices so we’ll see winemakers having more fun with it. They’ll have the freedom to play around with modern takes on traditional styles. New Zealand is in a great position to be one of the leaders in this market.

How has your wine drinking changed over the years?

JD: As most people do, I started with wine brands that I knew or had heard about but as I got more involved, I started buying more interesting small batch wines with great stories and love behind them.

One of my early and most memorable experiences was when I turned 18 and asked my parents to buy me a bottle of Penfold’s Grange from my birth year rather than throw me a party. it changed my world. The whole experience and the way it evolved over the night, blew my mind and was part of the reason I got so hooked on wine.

Nowadays I go looking for surprises, the wines that I don’t know much about. Interesting, potentially weird and a little bit challenging, hopefully small batch but definitely made by real people who love what they do. In wine bars I’ll often leave it in the hands of the somm’ to choose for me with absolute freedom to go weird and wonderful so I don’t stay within my usual wine styles.

What’s your favourite wine and music match or wine and food match?

JD: Champagne and anything basically…

What’s your favourite wine?

JD: So many it’s impossible to choose but I do love aged Barolo and white burgundy, as most wine nerds do. However, to me, it’s so music more than just the wine, it’s the whole experience. Who you are drinking it with and where. What’s being discussed. How connected you are to the experience and the people. Oh and food, always food.

When did you decide to dive in and work with wine?

JD: Wine is in my DNA – my ancestors were some of the very first people to plant vines in the Barossa Valley. Throughout my childhood I was always surrounded by wine; one of my uncles is a well known viticulturist, so he would challenge me to blind tastings as a kid trying to get me pick what region, variety and vintage each wine was. He would guide me through the different characteristics I should be looking for well before I was the legal drinking age. So for me it was always going to be. For a while there I questioned whether it was a career or simply a passion, but after leaving it for about 5 years in my 20’s to work as a stockbroker and then property developer, I realised my heart is in wine. After a few pivots, we finally landed on a winner with Vinomofo. 

What makes wine rewarding?


JD: Wine is such a personal experience; what appeals to me is very different to the next person and that’s cool. It’s also a connector.

When I think of the best moments in my life, wine has always been there, from backpacking through South America drinking amazing Argentinean Malbec, through to drinking all of the French rosé while on a recent holiday for my 40th to Bora Bora. It’s got this unique power to connect people, place and moments together; it’s a beautiful thing and I’m completely in love with it.

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