Joelle Thomson

Author, journalist, writer

Author: Joelle Thomson (page 2 of 124)

Best of the bunch Gimblett Gravels wine release

Ten years on, Gimblett Gravels annual vintage selection is still strong.

This month marks the 10th consecutive year that winemakers on the Gravels have commissioned an independent reviewer to come up with the best of the bunch.

The independent reviewer is Andrew Caillard, a Master of Wine based in Australia, who has selected six blended reds and six 100% Syrahs this time round.

The latest release is from the 2017 vintage, which began well with no frost in spring followed by a warm, dry summer with above average heat leading up to January. Low rainfall resulted in dry conditions and small crops but humidity late in the season was one factor that caused some to pick swiftly. Fortunately, it was at the end of the season and ripeness was already achieved. Sugar levels in the grapes was relatively low, which means alcohol levels are modest. My thoughts on the top wines will follow in coming weeks.

Interestingly, prices vary wildly. As do release dates of the wines. Many of them are on the market now while others have yet to be released. They are listed below.

Top 12 Gimblett Gravels 2017 reds

2017 Craggy Range Te Kahu $29.95

2017 Mission Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $30

2017 Sacred Hill Special Selection Helmsman Cabernet Sauvignon $84.99

2017 Smith & Sheth Cru Cantera Cabernets Tempranillo $60

2017 Squawking Magpie SQM Cabernets Merlot $79

2017 Trinity Hill The Gimblett $40

2017 Elephant Hill Airavata Syrah $120

2017 Elephant Hill Stone Syrah $75

2017 Smith & Sheth Cru Heretaunga Syrah $40

2017 Squawking Magpie Gravels Syrah $33.95

2017 Trinity Hill Homage $145

2017 Vidal Estate Soler Syrah $34.99

Watch this space for more detail, my thoughts, tasting notes and ratings.

Partners in life and in wine

Jeremy Corban and Katherine Jacobs – partners in life and in wine

It’s a small winery with a big name. Literally. Big Sky Vineyard in the Wairarapa has a new cellar and production facility which has just finished construction, 20 steps from the home of the owners, Jeremy Corban and Katherine Jacobs.

The couple always planned to build their own winery to give them  a closer connection and greater quality control of the grapes they grow on site. The new winery will also double as a social environment for visitors to taste, talk and enjoy their wines.

“We always made our own wine but we used our neighbour’s  winery; John Douglas, who is along the road at Te Hera and has his own winery at the back of his vineyard,” says Jacobs.

She and Corban currently make about 1,500 cases of wine. Their new winery will be able to process 30 tonnes of fruit; enough to make 2000 cases of wine every year. She says they never want to become a large business, but they do plan to plant the three hectares of land still available around their home vineyard site. This will predominantly be planted in Pinot Noir with a mix of whites making up the remainder.

The new winery also gives her and Corban more room to experiment. This year they are trialling a small batch of orange wine, a petillant natural and an intensely oaky Chardonnay, all easier to experiment with on site than at someone else’s winery.

The oaky Chardonnay experiment came about after talks with the Auckland distributors of their wines, Caro’s, owned by brothers John and Richard, who stores are based in Ponsonby and Parnell.

  • Big Sky cellar door and winery is at 415 Te Muna Road, Martinborough, phone 06 306 8441. Visits by appointment.

International wine tasting in Wellington

Lebanon’s most famous winery, high altitude Argentinian Malbec and one of France’s most famous Cotes du Rhone reds are among the many wines to be tasted next Thursday 5 September at the Wharewaka Function Centre on Wellington’s waterfront.

The tasting is the first International Wine Tasting of Negociants New Zealand’s vast portfolio.

The event starts with trade tasting during the afternoon and is followed by a public tasting from 6pm to 8pm.

Brands to be tasted include: Allegrini, Antinori, Pala, Bodegas Valdemar, Guigal, Chateau Musar and Catena Zapata.

All tickets include tasting all of the wines, antipasto food and a Riedel Overture Magnum wine glass in a gift box.

  • To book or find out more, contact Tina Rutherford, phone 0800 634624 or email:
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