Journey into wine podcast… and wines for the weekend

NZ Wine podcast features my story this week

Whether it happens by accident or by design, it can be interesting to hear people’s stories of how they were bitten by the big buttery Chardonnay bug.

It’s at least 30 years ago since I fell in love with big buttery Chardonnays and more recently I’ve become smitten with podcasts too. Interesting podcasts can  transform insufferably long car journeys into fascinating ones, turn morning walks into mini wellness retreats and boring evenings into tantalising ones, thanks to the stories of those they feature.

Boris Lamont is the founder of the NZ Wine podcast, which features a quirky range of characters who love wine. I love listening to their stories, so it was a privilege to be asked to be among them on the NZ Wine podcast with Boris.

Click here to listen:


Wines of the week…

Bargain buy

4 stars

2015 Crater Rim Waipara Pinot Noir $22

This earthy Pinot Noir is from the third in a trio of warm, dry vintages with long, late summers that gave Pinot a chance to fully ripen, retain fresh acidity and drive, all thanks to the warm days and cool nights in North Canterbury. The wine was fermented with indigenous yeasts, aged in French oak for 13 months and bottled unfined and unfiltered, which is where those tasty savoury flavours come from. Its silky red fruit flavours give it the X factor and for $22, I call this an unbelievable bargain.

Available at specialist stores and online at


Treat of the week

5 stars

2012 Brown Brothers Patricia Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut $39.99

This is one of Australia’s best bubblies every year. In the past week I have tasted and shared three bottles of it, two from the 2011 vintage and this fresh new release from 2012, which is my pick. And fresh is the word because this wine spent six years on lees in bottle, post-fermentation, where these decomposing yeast cells released all sorts of tasty flavours, protecting the wine and keeping it fresh at the same time. That’s twice the time of most vintage champagnes but at a fraction of the cost and with grapes grown on a single vineyard too. In this case, it’s the Whitlands Vineyard, 800 metres above sea level in the King Valley, Victoria, where the warm days and cool nights allow the Pinot Noir (80%) and Chardonnay (20%) to retain their refreshing acidity. The wine tastes creamy, citrusy and full bodied.

It’s a fitting tribute to the late Patricia Brown, matriarch and much missed grandmother of the Brown Brothers who own and run the winery in Milawa, Victoria, today. This is the 16th release.
Residual sugar is dry at 8.5g per litre total. The first vintage of Patricia sparkling was 1997.

Available at specialist wine stores and online at


Reaching for the stars

 4.5 stars

2016 Pyramid Valley Field of Fire Chardonnay $99 to $100

Small, south east facing and biodynamic. Field of fire is all these things and remote. It’s a tiny vineyard on the home block at Pyramid Valley Vineyards in Waikari, 40 minutes’ drive inland from the Waipara Valley in North Canterbury. It’s also home to the Chardonnay grapes that went into this wine, which was aged for 10 months in barrel on yeast lees following fermentation. The vineyard was planted in 2001. The first vintage was 2006.

This wine was aged in a 50/50 mix of amphora and oak. It tastes full bodied, vibrant and fresh, thanks to pronounced acidity. It drinks well now and can age for 10 years plus (willpower allowing).

Available at specialist wine stores and online at

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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