Day 15… Reflections of life in lockdown…

Sunrise at Paekakariki on the Kapiti Coast

Are there more fantails around now that it’s quieter, or is it just that I can see them now that my usual rush has ground to a halt?
Every day they spread their magic, flitting around the back doorstep, sitting in the olive branches, making contact. As I write, the streets here in Martinborough are eerily quiet, tinged with autumn’s beautiful colours, as if the season is a metaphor for everything we’ve left behind in the old version of normality.
I began writing a wine review for every day in lockdown, until five days ago when a piece by Indian writer Arundhati Roy stopped me in my tracks. She explained what life is like for Indians in lockdown, the entire 1.3 billion of whom were given just four hours to prepare. Published in The Financial Times on 4 April, her heartbreaking and insightful writing was, as always, amazingly powerful to read.
Then wine samples began arriving on my doorstep, contact free, earlier this week, so it’s been similar to the lockdown I’ve experienced in working at home for the past two decades, 15 years of which were spent mostly working from home. Admittedly, there were some big differences, but here we are now, reflecting on what it might mean to return to what had become normal, with the dark cloud of Covid-19 still looming over us.
Do we really want to go back to the kind of normal that we were living or is there a better way forward?
I’ve been asking myself this question all week while writing new wine notes for the Regional Wines website, which is run off its feet with online orders – more on that below.
I’ve also tasting a vast number of wines sent to me for review, including these five highlights – mostly available.
I hope you enjoy them, stay safe and connected during lockdown.

5 top wines to drink in lockdown

19/20

2011 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir – library wine

The highlight of the week is this beautiful nine year old Pinot Noir from the Donaldson family’s wine cellar at Pegasus Bay in Waipara,the heart of North Canterbury. It was sent to me this week and while I’ve enjoyed many older wines from Pegasus Bay before, this one really took my breath away with its dry style, silky texture and structured tannins, which suggest a portion of whole bunch fermentation and give this wine an incredible framework. It’s drinking extremely well right now but is so well structured that I would give this wine another five to six years. An absolutely beautiful South Island Pinot Noir.

17.5/20

2018 Ekleipsis Pinot Nouveau Waipara, North Canterbury $28

If you’re a fan of the natural wine movement, then this tasty, medium bodied and pale coloured Pinot will rock your world. It did mine but not because I’m a natural wine fan (I like good wine, regardless of trends) but rather because Nik and Jess Mavromatis have done such a stylish job in making this youthful, refreshing Pinot Nouveau, using carbonic maceration and whole bunches to add lift. It’s cloudy and pale in colour with fresh balanced acidity; dry, tasty, fresh. Drink chilled.

18.5/20
2017 Burn Cottage Vineyard Pinot Noir – certified organic

This is a cult Central Otago Pinot Noir and tastes as if it has plenty of whole bunch fermentation with its spicy aromas, impressive structure and long finish; beautiful ripe red fruit flavours shine in this wine. 

18.5/20

2018 Mount Edward Chardonnay Central Otago $29.99
Straddles creamy and buttery with fresh and succulent flavours. A stunning Central Otago Chardonnay.

17.5/20

2018 Seresin Dry Riesling Marlborough $17 to $23

Light, dry, refreshing and extremely youthful – a Riesling that shows another white wine strength to Marlborough.

Wine news

Regional Wines & Spirits open for online sales

It’s all hands to the pump at Wellington’s biggest, most comprehensively stocked wine, beer and spirits store right now with unprecedented online orders and updated wine notes on the website, which I am writing. Just a hint – we have thousands of products and I’m still in the hundreds.

Order online here: Regional Wines & Spirits

New Martinborough saignée rosé

The 2020 vintage will be remembered for many things, including a harvest of several parts for Martinborough winemaker John Douglas, who will make saignée rosé for the first time this year.

Pinot 2021 postpones

Pinot 2021 has a proposed new date of February 2022. Read more here: The co-chairs of Pinot Noir NZ 2021, Pen Naish and Helen Masters, announced this week they are working towards the new target date and will continue to evaluate the best timing going forward.

Winetopia sets new date

The organisers of Winetopia have also set a new date, moving their event from original mid year dates to Friday 9 and Saturday 10 October in the Wellington  TSB Arena. They will also continue to evaluate the best timing going forward.

Trust stores banned from selling spirits

Spirits are no longer allowed to be sold by Trust stores in West Auckland, which New Zealand Police hopes will reduce the number of consumers driving across the city to buy alcohol. The new policy will last while the country remains at COVID-19 alert level 4. The new regulations were put in place after the retailer’s analysis of purchase data in some of their stores showed the sale of spirits had lifted significantly since lockdown began. Customer addresses revealed up to a quarter of those buying the spirits lived outside of West Auckland. The store’s trading hours will remain the same for the time being but are in continuous review in response to the level of customer demand.

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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