Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Wine of a very rainy week - Hawke's Bay Albarino

Saturday 25 February 2023

Rain continues, heartbreakingly, to fall in Hawke's Bay where water levels start to rise again...

As we contemplate the last weekend of summer in New Zealand, many could be forgiven for wondering if the first weekend of summer ever really arrived. It has been a wet summer by any standards, even in a maritime climate such as this country's but the rainfall, storms and cyclones this year are unprecedented and, as I write, the rain, heartbreakingly, continues to fall. It's no wonder winemakers in East Coast wine regions grow more nervous by the day as they plan to harvest the grapes that remain intact on vines, which can be accessed to pick and transported to wineries. 

Given that numbers have yet to be fully assessed and more rain is falling, most winemakers did not wish to be quoted at this stage, except to say that they all know friends who have lost livelihoods, homes or family members both in the viticultural and the horticultural industries. 

Hawke's Bay winemaker Jenny Dobson says many of the vineyards she has seen in the past week have come through the cyclone intact but many livelihoods, homes, roads and businesses have been completely destroyed by flooding and cyclonic devastation. 

"The worst affected areas seemed to be Esk Valley, Dartmoor, Omarunui Road and Links Road. The lack of bridge access is causing a bit of head scratching to ensure harvest equipment can get to vineyards and grapes to wineries. There so much to clean up and repair and we have more rain forecast," says Dobson, who made the finely tuned Fiano that appeared here as our last wine of the week. 

Size isn't everything but the loss in Hawke's Bay dwarfs any other weather event in New Zealand's youthful wine history, leaving us to watch as water levels rise again in the region. The only other thing we can do is vote with our feet and buy the best wines from the Bay. And donate to the relief fund.

Give donations to the Cyclone Gabrielle Relief fund here:

Wine of the week


2021 Esk Valley Albarino RRP $24.99

A textural white wine with body to burn made from a grape variety that remains relatively new to New Zealand, Albarino, which tastes of tangy green olives, freshly picked crunchy apples and lemon juice. Albarino is originally from north west Spain or 'green Spain' to use the common parlance in that part of the world. It's also a wet maritime climate there, so this thick skinned little number works a treat here and makes surprisingly impressive wines like this one, which offers stunning quality at this price.