Joelle Thomson's online wine guide

Category: Tastings (page 1 of 6)

Taste The Terraces with winemaker Gordon Russell…

The Terraces tasting… Thursday 7 September, Regional Wines, Wellington

It’s 23 years and counting since I first met Hawke’s Bay winemaker Gordon Russell at a tasting at Wellington’s biggest independent wine store, Regional Wines & Spirits, and next month he’s back – to taste more wines from a wider range of grapes and a long string of very good vintages.

The pinnacle of the tasting is The Terraces, which is a blend of red grapes; the exact proportions and identities of which have changed over the past two and a half decades.

Since its inaugural release in 1991, Esk Valley’s The Terraces has been made in only 13 vintages, and with the release of the 2015, this is the first time in history that three consecutive vintages of The Terraces have been bottled. Come and taste all three of those vintages together, as winemaker Gordon Russell takes us on a journey through his wines, starting with a hand picked selection of the core Esk Valley range, travelling via the hillside vineyard at this small winery up to The Terraces.

Here’s the full line-up that we will be tasting on Thursday 7 September at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington:

2017 Esk Valley Verdelho
2016 Esk Valley Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay
2015 Esk Valley Gimblett Gravels Syrah
2014 Esk Valley Winemaker’s Reserve Syrah
2010 Esk Valley The Hillside
2013 Esk Valley The Terraces
2014 Esk Valley The Terraces
2015 Esk Valley The Terraces
2016 Esk Valley Late Harvest Chenin Blanc

Bookings are open now and essential for this tasting, phone 04 385 6952.

Aromas, awards, accolades in Auckland this August…

It’s a big month at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine where a bunch of the best will compete for this year’s New Zealand Sommelier of the Year and Junior Sommelier of the Year .

The competition is on Sunday 20 August and the winners will be announced later that day at 7pm at the awards dinner – a Lebanese styled meal from Samir Allen at Gemmayze Street.

And for those who don’t feel up to competing, there are other reasons to attend the event because it also includes New Zealand and Aromatic Wine Tastings, which are being led by yours truly and wine importer Michael Jemison of Macvine International as well as  masterclasses on sake and wine by Wayne Shannon and Master of Wine Bob Campbell.

The school’s annual Wine + Food Celebration highlights outstanding wine and food from all over New Zealand as well as championing top notch service for those working with it.

Find out more and book tickets to the event and its tastings here:

My weekly blog… Waitaki wine goes en primeur

In news this week…

It’s fun, decadent and delicious to work with wine (Chilean Malbec – tick, Chianti Classico Extra Virgin Olive Oil – tick, Spanish Mencia – tick, Bollinger for my birthday – tick… this week has been busy).

But like most of life’s fun, decadent and delicious pursuits, it’s not always easy to make a living from, which is why so many small wineries are owned by people with day jobs to fund their winemaking. And it’s also why many wine writers do other things on the side – namely, talk, teach and sell wine; of all of which are among the many ways that we scribes sing for our suppers these days. In my case, I count myself fortunate to have the newly created role of Wine Programme Director at a place we call ‘Regional’ in Wellington city.

It’s the oldest independent wine store still in existence in this city today and it’s having a new lease of life under new owners for the first time in its 30 year history and it’s also home to some outstanding staff, who I count myself lucky to work with. But that’s another story.

The reason for this one is to mention a wine of the week from a forgotten corner of this country – the Waitaki Valley, on the border of North Otago and South Canterbury.

The wine of the week is…

2016 Ostler Caroline’s Pinot Noir $45 

And… it is now available (from this week) en primeur (this is not an ad’)

It’s the 14th year this wine has been made by the brother-in-law duo of Jim Jerram and Jeff Sinnott, who planted some of the first grapevines in the challengingly cool climate of Waitaki in New Zealand’s deep south. The wine was aged in oak for 15 months prior to bottling and it tastes sensational. Here’s what I wrote about it…

North Otago is the newest wine region in New Zealand and also one of its most promising for high quality Pinot Noir, such as Ostler Caroline’s Pinot Noir, made by Jeff Sinnott and Jim Jerram, who together established some of the first vineyards in the Waitaki Valley in the early 2000s. This wine is an elegant style of Pinot Noir with great concentration of flavour (think: cherries and ripe dark plums), a full body and velvety smooth texture. Its hallmark is its ‘Pinotesque’ high acidity, which bodes well for its long term aging, as does its pedigree of very good quality wines since the mid 2000s. Its young history shows an outstanding ability to age and its fruit flavours remain faithful to what great Pinot Noir is all about.

Find out  more or buy it here…

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