Joelle Thomson

Writer, author, journalist

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Dry grown new wine of the week

New Chardonnay from old dry grown vines 18.5/20 2021 Tony Bish Skeetfield Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay RRP $67.99 A stunning new wine with bold flavours, a big body and a nuance of creamy appeal made from dry grown Mendoza Chardonnay grapes from the Skeetfield Vineyard. This was 100% barrel fermented and matured for 12 months in Taransaud French oak, which provides a subtle spicy note and structure without intruding on the powerful citrus zing and rounded white peach flavours. The finish is lon...

September 28, 2022

Friday drinks with Jules Taylor and her love of home

Jules Taylor says she immediately returned home to Marlborough to beg for her first job after she finished her winemaking studies at Lincoln University in Canterbury.  "I always imagined working in viticulture but after doing a vintage, I kind of got majorly sidetracked into winemaking. It was 1994 and the industry here was still small and we all know each other," she says. After working many vintages in Marlborough, Italy and Australia, Marlborough once again became home and in 2001, her f...

September 20, 2022

It's all about skin contact...

The day is looking distinctly pink or should that be pale pink through to deep salmon? There's a line up of pink wines in front of the computer and the colours seem to span every hue of the pink rainbow, if there was such a thing. It's a far more varied range of colour than it would be, if this was a line up of red or white wines.  Where does colour in pink wine come from? Why does it vary so widely and what does it suggest about the taste of the wine?  Firstly, it's a myth to bel...

September 13, 2022

Friday drinks with Church Road and Syrah

A century and a quarter is a long time for New Zealand’s young wine industry and that’s what the winemakers, media and many others in the wine industry, including yours truly, are celebrating tonight at Church Road winery in Hawke’s Bay. The winery makes one of this country’s most popular Chardonnays and smaller volumes of big bold fuller bodied wines, such as the iconic Tom. This range began with a Merlot dominant, Bordeaux inspired blend and now also includes a Syrah and a Chardon...

September 9, 2022

Behind every great rosé

Behind every great pink wine, there's a big market ready to lap it up and in the case of Poppies Rosé, this truth holds, despite a relatively high price tag - proving that there's no stopping the rise of rosé. This wine is made by Poppy Hammond for Poppies of Martinborough, a great lunch venue that is co owned and run by Poppy and Shane Hammond. Both the venue and the wines have proven to be so popular that it is essential to book to secure a table. Demand for the rosé has soared so productio...

September 1, 2022

Bull Paddock wine of the week, 31 August 2022

It was originally home to bulls and now Bull Paddock Vineyard is full of Sauvignon Blanc grapes at Dillons Point in the lower Wairau Valley, Marlborough. Here's my top pick of a bunch of great whites tasted over the past seven days. Wine of the week19/20 2022 Rapaura Springs Bull Paddock Sauvignon Blanc RRP $27.90 Bull Paddock Vineyard is at Dillons Point in the lower Wairau Valley in Marlborough and is home to what many winemakers believe are the highest quality Sauvignon grapes in the reg...

August 31, 2022

Friday drinks with an unreliable, moody, thin skinned (but strangely likeable) red grape...

Haunting, subtle, thrilling and brilliant. Pinot Noir production is on the rise globally with a 24 per cent increase since 2021 according to Wine-Searcher. Pinot Noir has always been a problem child. Unstable, thin skinned and constantly changing so that it is unreliable at the best of times. It has a tendency to mutate a little too easily in the vineyard where it may have begun life as a red grape but may mutate into one with a white skin on one side and morph into Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, or P...

August 23, 2022

A new Dawn sparkling wine

Saint Clair Dawn NV RRP $37.99 Wines such as this one can tear at the heartstrings, given its history - it's a tribute to its eponymous namesake, Dawn Ibbotson, who lived to be 105 and inspired her family to make this wine in her name. Saint Clair Family Estates continues to make Dawn bubbly and this is the first multi vintage blend of the wine; 63% Chardonnay and 37% Pinot Noir with 30 months on tirage (less ageing). Beautiful flavours of fresh crisp green apples and a bold citrusy ar...

August 22, 2022

Friday drinks with Ben Dugdale, Martinborough winemaker

Ben Dugdale has made wine in Martinborough for the past two decades and believes that no region in New Zealand is better than any other when it comes to Pinot Noir - the flagship wine style of this small wine area. "Each region produces superlative Pinot Noir in a global context," says the Carterton resident. He has made wine at Dry River and for many others, including a long standing collaboration with Porters Pinot in Martinborough, which he describes as a true garagiste-style vineyard an...

August 22, 2022

Friday drinks with... Puneet Dhall

Puneet Dhall founded and owns the wine import and distribution company, Dhall & Nash, with Brandon Nash. The pair are based in different cities and have grown their company from a two person band to one with staff in three cities and a diverse range of brands from the big buttery Bogle Chardonnays to Billecart Salmon Champagne alongside New Zealand brands, Easthope and De La Terre from Hawke's Bay, among others.  Dhall changed his life's plan from a corporate career into wine relativel...

August 17, 2022

Trio of new Sauvignons - Eradus and Jules Taylor

Three crisp new 2022 Sauvignon Blancs 2022 Eradus Awatere Sauvignon Blanc RRP $19.99 Narrow terraces of vines flank the banks of the Awatere River where relatively high winds and cool sea breezes add to the struggle that grapevines endure in this rugged microclimate. Dry stony soils mean that vines need to dig deep to find water and the result is a beautifully fleshy Sauvignon Blanc in this wine, which expresses powerful green herb aromas, which are nicely intermingled with hints of tr...

August 16, 2022

Wine of the week - Isle of Man meets Central Otago

It's a long way from the Isle of Man to Bendigo and much as the Kerruish family is looking forward to the trip, they are not holding their breaths. Theirs is yet another story of how covid has irrevocably changed lives in unforeseen ways. A trip to Europe with their children before covid saw them locked down on Tim Kerruish's home on the Isle of Man during the early days of the pandemic and they remain on the isle today. Fast forward two years and they have secured work there, so coming back to ...

August 14, 2022

Friday drinks with Brent Marris of Marisco

Brent Marris established The Ned in 2006 in the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough on a site that he purchased and planted in 2004. His impressive career in wine continues the trajectory established by his father, who was one of the first to purchase vineyard land in Marlborough in 1973 for Montana Wines. Marris trained in winemaking at Roseworthy Agricultural College in Adelaide, gaining a Bachelor Of Applied Science in Oenology (winemaking) and becoming Marlborough’s first born and raised q...

August 9, 2022

Fifth Organic Wine Week 19 to 25 September

This year marks the fifth vintage of Organic Wine Week in New Zealand and it's looming faster than you can pour yourself a glass of wine, certified organic or not. The aim of the event is to raise the profile of certified organic wine and the impetus for wine drinkers to encourage the industry to produce it. Organic Wine Week runs from Monday 19 September to Monday 25 September this year and will be held as a series of regional tastings around the country, dates and details of which ca...

August 9, 2022

Friday drinks with Bertrand Soalhat

If Bertrand Soalhat was to have his choice of reincarnation, he would come back to his wife and son, to the business he has recently begun and to a life of wine. He is the founder, owner and one man band behind Bare Wines, a new importing company with a long history in drinks behind it. He spoke to www.joellethomson.com about what has helped him to start a new business, about leaving France at the tender age of 19 and the types of wines that make it worth getting through to Friday drinks ea...

August 5, 2022

Wine of the week - beautiful by name and by nature

19.5/202020 Pegasus Bay Bel Canto Dry Riesling RRP $42Beautiful by name and by nature, Bel Canto is the greatest Riesling in the South Island with its incredible concentration of ripe orange and mandarin flavours coming from hand picked grapes with a high portion of shrivelled botrytis bunches making up 30 per cent of the juice. It was fermented with natural yeasts in old, large barrels which gives the wine extremely concentrated complexity and richness. There's a lot going on in every zing...

July 30, 2022

Wines of the week - Chianti Classico to Martinborough Pinot Noir

There has been no shortage of wines come across my path this week, both as an independent wine writer and in my role as wine programme director at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington. Of all the goodies - the new Greystone Vineyard Ferment, the latest Moy Hall Pinot Noir and the latest from Pegasus Bay, among many more, this wine below is the stand out, for me. Its full body and ripe dark flavours give it a significant point of difference and every sip delivers surprising new l...

July 29, 2022

Friday drinks - Best is yet to come for Martinborough winemaker Tim Bourne

Tim Bourne is the winemaker at Escarpment Vineyard in the majestic Te Muna Valley, Martinborough. A place where Pinot Noir finds its greatest expression in good vintages of Kupe; one of four single vineyard wines released this month in New Zealand. Bourne has worked with Larry McKenna, founder and former owner of Escarpment Vineyard, and now retired. Bourne has stepped into big shoes and he is filling them with some outstanding wines. This is his story. What do you consider your greatest ac...

July 29, 2022

Wine from a small island

The Batch Winery on Waiheke Island owns a 3.5 hectare vineyard on Carson’s Road at Onetangi on Waiheke Island. It's a small piece of vineyard land, by any stretch, both in terms of making enough wine to fund production, let alone a family, but the quality of wines here is high. Thoughtful plantings of grapes with a proven track record and thoughtful winemaking both define this winery as part of the second wave of winemaking on Waiheke Island. As for the definition of Waiheke as a small island ...

July 20, 2022

Marlborough's stamp of wine integrity expands

Marlborough's wine integrity just got a massive shot in the arm with the extension of the region's four year old authenticity trademark, AMW. The acronym stands for Appellation Marlborough Wine (AMW). It was launched in 2018 and from this year onwards, it will cover all wines produced in the region, not only Sauvignon Blanc which was the first wine to benefit from the authenticity certification. In essence, the AMW trademark is a legal logo that can be applied to all Marlborough Sauvig...

July 20, 2022

A story of place in Bendigo Pinot Noir

I am an independent wine writer and this blog is published weekly Pinot Noir is the most popular red wine in New Zealand and it is so varied in taste that it increasingly tells a story of place, especially when compared to the country's other most planted grape, Sauvignon Blanc, which generally conforms to a vibrant, fruity, dry or off dry white with juicy tropical flavours. By contrast, Pinot Noir's flavours and style vary wildly from earthy dark, brooding wines that beg for time in the cellar ...

July 15, 2022

New vintage Escarpment Pinot Noir release

The new 2020 Escarpment single vineyard Pinot Noirs have been released and they are an impressive bunch, including the reintroduction of Pahi to the range for the first time in several years. The other wines include Kiwa, Te Rehua and, king of them all, Kupe. These Maori names stand as the turangawaewae of these wines, on their front labels, without the words Pinot Noir. It is a local take on the traditional French theme of naming great Pinot Noirs after the vineyards from which the grapes were ...

July 9, 2022

Dry (ish) July, Winetopia and 5 top Pinot Noirs

It may be dry July but the start of this month was anything but for Wellingtonians who attended Winetopia held on the water over the weekend. This is the sixth year that Winetopia has come to the capital and it was as relaxed and laid back as it was filled with with. As one of the organisers, Natalie Tan, says "It's a considered event, a place to go if you like exploring wine but without being in a formal setting." Here here. Tan's description of Winetopia tallies with the feedback yours truly r...

July 1, 2022

Wine of the week - The Magnetic

Wine of the week, 30 June 202219/20 2019 Carrick Organic The Magnetic Bannockburn Pinot Noir RRP $65 The Magnetic Pinot Noir is named after a vineyard of the same name and the image on the label depicts an historic gold mining dredge (also called ‘the magnetic). This wine more than lives up to its name with magnetising flavours of deliciously concentrated, succulent, dark cherry and plum flavours held captive in a full bodied but elegant wine made entirely from the much revered Abel clone of P...

June 28, 2022

The who, what and why of 12 top Chardonnays

If you're a lover of Chardonnay, the time has never been better - nor more diverse - to enjoy New Zealand's best from this most popular of all white grapes and wines. But where do the best New Zealand Chardonnays come from? Is there one top region? In terms of volume and the sheer diversity of Chardonnays produced, it may well be Hawke's Bay but a growing number of great white contenders from the South Island give this great region a run for its money today. This top 14 new Chardonnay ...

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