Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author


What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week

Back to Blog

Craggy Range makes top 50 list - again

One of New Zealand's highest profile wineries has made ranked in the world's top 50 Most Admired Wine Brands for the fifth year running.The independent top 50 list is compiled by Drinks International magazine, whose editor commissions a global group of sommeliers, wine buyers, wholesalers, Masters of Wine and writers to pin point their best wine brands. Competition gets tougher each year, says Drinks International editor Shay Waterworth."What's particularly important to me is that...

April 10, 2024

Pinot dedicated winemaker brings great change

It's never comfortable having to tighten our belts, literally or metaphorically, and with the rising price of, well, everything, these days, it has become extremely difficult for many wine retailers to keep their prices in check. Examples I could give from first hand experience in wine retail are numerous and range from low priced French rosé which is RRP $21.99 one month and $25.99 the next to top value Spanish wines which were RRP $23.99 on the shelf on one and are now $37.99. The wines remai...

April 5, 2024

Methodé in Marlborough's mad growth

Forgive the use of the word 'mad' in the heading above, which is used purely to describe the frenzied rise in volume, both of vineyards planted and wines produced, in New Zealand's biggest wine region. There is precious little madness (other than fast and furious growth) to be found in Marlborough and the last Friday in March every year is reason to taste, learn and enjoy the region's sparkling wines, whose producers are slowly but steadily growing the awareness of a formal wine body they have c...

March 29, 2024

All about ageing - new ten year old wines show rewards of cellaring

PS: If ageing wine seems too tricky, the current releases of the two wines on this post are also stellar examples of the best of New Zealand wine and they put North Canterbury's finest vinous foot forward. Apologies for the long headline. It is always with a sense of dread that cellaring wine enters the discussion because most wine drinkers prefer to purchase their wine now to drink it now rather than invest now and wait a decade in the hope of... not being quite sure what to expect. It was exac...

March 19, 2024

In praise of Riesling - an oldie but yes it's amazing

It was International Riesling Day last week and I nearly marked it by stamping my last Riesling tattoo (a transfer, in case it's not obvious) on my forearm, only the tattoo was so dried out that the plan failed. It was the last one of about 100 Riesling transfer/tattoos I bought about a decade ago when the global Riesling movement was having its day. Those of us who dived down the Riesling rabbit hole may never have achieved a global following for this great white grape and the incredibly comple...

March 18, 2024

What's in my glass this Monday

What's in your glass this Monday? If it's an AFD, it could still be an interesting question and while the idea had crossed my mind, this wine (along with a bunch of others) crossed my desk so here is the wine of today, made by Jules Taylor in Marlborough, New Zealand. It's a region devoted strongly (to the tune of about 80%) to Sauvignon Blanc, but without diminishing the importance of the region's great white, Chardonnay is capable of at least equal success and wines such as this one put forwar...

March 11, 2024

What I'm drinking this week - Abel Chardonnay

New Chardonnay from two generations and a small region.Wine of the week, 2 March 20242021 Abel Tasman Chardonnay RRP $28.99This new release is the fourth vintage of Abel Chardonnay, which is made by founder-owners Mark and Sophie McGill in collaboration with her parents, James and Wendy Healy (co-founders of Dog Point Vineyards). This outstanding wine has all the creamy nuances that Chardonnay lovers enjoy but it is the fab balance of brightness and acidity that add its strongest appeal, for me....

February 27, 2024

Humility and hot vintages in Martinborough and What's in my glass this week

Martinborough is no stranger to baking hot days and cool nights but is this year unseasonally dry or does it just seem that way after two rainy harvests in 2022 and 2023?As I wrote the opening to this week's What in my glass column, the sun was shining and the wind blowing, both drying out the earth, on a day that was originally forecast for wind and rain. Fast forward to today and the earth remains as dry as a bone while the grass more closely resembles burnt stumps of hay. Pity the poor sheep ...

February 27, 2024

A visit from Antinori... and what I'm drinking this week

Italy holds strong fascination for wine lovers, especially those who enjoy a long history with their glass of Chianti, which is exactly what made last week's highlight tasting so compelling. The tasting was of Antinori wines and Prunotto (one of the many other wineries the Antinori family now owns). Members of this family owned company can trace their winemaking descendents back to 1385. It was a representative from Antinori (rather than a family member) who treated a small group of wine trade ...

February 14, 2024

The chillable red wine trend and What I'm Drinking this Friday

It's easy to get sucked into fads and many winemakers are diving head first into the latest one. It's called chillable reds.This week another wave of light bodied wines with their deep pink or pale ruby colour (depending on your point of view) arrived for tasting. They prove that the chillable red wine trend is gaining momentum. Add to that a completely emptied out shelf labelled Chillable Reds in Wellington city's biggest wine retail store (Regional Wines & Spirits) and it's safe to say tha...

February 9, 2024

Southern whites... What I'm Drinking this Week(end)

It's bitterly cold in winter, searingly hot in summer and deeply devoted to one red grape, which makes Central Otago seem like a one trick pony when it comes to wine, but this week a bunch of new white wines was a reminder that it is far from it.This week's tasting table featured a trio of interesting whites from a small winery in Bannockburn, one of the youngest wine regions in New Zealand and now as famous for its liquid gold (Pinot Noir) as it was in the late 1800s for its gold mining. T...

January 30, 2024

The chillable red trend and what I'm Drinking this Friday

It's easy to get sucked into fads and many winemakers are diving head first into the latest one. It's called chillable reds.This week another wave of these light bodied, deep pink or pale ruby (depending on your point of view) coloured reds labelled chillable landed on the tasting table, proving that this trend is gaining momentum. Add to that a completely emptied out shelf labelled Chillable Reds in Wellington city's biggest wine retail store (Regional Wines & Spirits) and it's safe to say ...

January 27, 2024

Gimblett Gravels 2021 Annual Vintage Selection

The irony about heatwaves is that they often lead into some of the best vintages of wines that seem to be the exact opposite of what you would want to drink during extremely hot days. But a new release of 12 top reds from 2021 is a reminder of the halcyon days before the rain that has blighted New Zealand's North Island wine regions over the past two years and it has been a great insight into the evolution of big reds from Hawke's Bay. It is the 14th release of the Gimblett Gravels Annual Vintag...

January 24, 2024

What I'm Drinking this Week - Pinot Noir from three regions

"When you don’t travel and don’t expose yourself to other situations, you begin to feel you’re the best. Travelling and seeing and listening, you feel that you’re not the best at all. You’re just learning."These are the words of Alberto Antonini, a Tuscan born consultant winemaker, voted in 2015 as one of the five best winemakers in the world by his peers. Alberto is quoted in an interview published on cluboenologique.com that he likes discovering new places to make wine beca...

January 17, 2024

What's in my glass this week, 5 January 2024

Gamay, where have you been all my life? Now the festive season is officially over, there is less fizz in most of our glasses but the wine in mine over the past week has been a surprising summer red and I haven't been drinking it chilled. Gamay. It's an old grape being given a new lease of life everywhere from Central Otago to California and the wines from New Zealand's deep south are impressive. The climate there clearly works well for the Gamay grape, which buds early and ripens early so it c...

January 3, 2024

What I'm Drinking on 1 January 2024

Happy New Year from my sunny deck in Martinborough where the bubbles are about to be opened with close friends as we reflect on the year that has been and, thankfully, gone. Last week was a microcosm of last year. It was a roller coaster of relaxation, reflection and rest followed by heartbreak, turbulence and 'not agains', but as we edged closer to 2024, the idea of a new year brought hope, both metaphorically and literally. Endings lead to beginnings. And the year that was 2023 was certainly o...

December 31, 2023

Visionary wine pioneer begins new brand at 82

Sir George Fistonich’s life in wine bears more than a passing resemblance to a rags to riches story. Its humble beginnings were on a one hectare, family owned vineyard in Mangere in 1961 and he has since founded Villa Maria Wines, started New Zealand’s first winery restaurant (at Vidals in Hawke’s Bay), developed long term relationships with winemakers and viticulturists, spear headed innumerable wine brands, won arguably more awards for the wines his company produced than any other winery...

December 23, 2023

Words to savour in world's best wine book

The fifth edition of Oxford Companion to Wine is 25 per cent longer and contains over one million, meticulously researched, wordsReview by Joelle Thomson, 22 December 2023When every wine blog at this time of year is full of recommendations to drink (and my Top 20 of 2023 remains in draft form), here is a recommendation of what to read this festive season and over the years to come. But where to begin? This review is of a book that is destined to win top publishing prizes and which I regard as th...

December 22, 2023

What I'm drinking - 5 of the best 2023 Sauvignon Blancs

Summer has arrived in New Zealand, along with a sea of Sauvignon Blancs for a report on this popular and commercially successful variety, which is being made in an increasingly diverse range of styles, if the latest tasting samples to cross my desk are anything to go by. It is only natural that Marlborough winemakers would want to branch out to flex both their creative talents as well as spreading the risk among consumers by making a wider range of styles. But there is another reason Sauvignon B...

December 19, 2023

What I'm drinking in early December

It's a bittersweet experience writing about wine this month when water is so scarce for so many people on the planet. I had my own close encounter with a lack of water this weekend, due to a leaky pipe, which sounded like a waterfall under the house. Thankfully, all is repaired thanks to the kindness of friends (including a friend who is a plumber). Handy, to say the least. I am more thankful than usual for water and for wine, the best of which have been reds over the past week, including a chil...

December 4, 2023

What I'm drinking this weekend

When it comes to surnames, it could have gone either way for the Dicey brothers but Matt and James have turned their name into a positive and given one of the wine world's most tired, dire and old fashioned bits of packaging (bag-in-box wine) a total makeover. This month they launched their second vintage of two litre Dice by Dicey Pinot Noir, hot on the heels of growing sales of the first vintage to about 50% of their online business. That's no mean feat in a slump of a year, such as 2023 has b...

November 21, 2023

Wine Marlborough honours four lifers for dedication

Four pioneers in the Marlborough wine industry have been honoured with Wine Marlborough's Lifetime Achievement Awards at a dinner in Blenheim.James Healy, Dave Pearce, Tessa Anderson and Murray Gibbons were recognised at The Marlborough Wine Celebration Evening, which also celebrated 50 years of the region's modern wine industry."The Wine Marlborough Lifetime Achievement Award aims to recognise nominees who have longevity of service to Marlborough wine, unselfishly given their time to the indus...

November 21, 2023

New Wild Earth Pinot Gris, 20 November 2023

The words 2023 and vintage are never going to go down well in the North Island of New Zealand where Cyclone Gabrielle did her best to destroy the livelihoods, vineyards and passions of many winemakers, but it's a different story in the South Island where Pinot Gris does particularly well. Here is my review of a fresh new wine off the bottling line from Wild Earth in Central Otago. 18.5/202023 Wild Earth Pinot Gris RRP $31Pinot Gris from cool climates rocks when it's good, as this flavo...

November 20, 2023

In my wine glass this week

Sparkling wine, champagne, prosecco or simply bubbles (the pet hate word of some wine lovers I know, sorry guys). It goes by many names but sparkling wine is definitely one of my favourite drinks and ever since I have spent part of my working week at a large independent wine retailer in a multi faceted role, I have literally been able to indulge my champagne tastes with my, hmmm, more humble budget. Until this year. Not only are there fewer interesting quirky champagnes arriving on New Zealand's...

November 20, 2023

Marlborough expands exports with new investment

Treasury Wine Estates Ltd (TWE) announced today that it has acquired a substantial Marlborough vineyard to expand its landholdings in the region from 505 hectares to 750 hectares. This will increase the growth of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, particularly for exports markets with a strong focus on the United States. “The acquisition of the new vineyard, which includes its own water reservoir, is an important step in expanding our premium wine portfolio," says Treasury Wine Es...

November 16, 2023 Posts 1-25 of 315 | Page next