Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Marlborough's bubbly makers celebrate harvest 2023

Friday drinks with bubbles took on a new meaning this Friday (yesterday, that is) because it marked the end of harvest for a group of Marlborough winemakers who pick their grapes earlier than most. It was the official Méthode Marlborough Day and what better way to celebrate than with a glass of bubbly? I always enjoy getting up close and personal with good quality sparkling wines so it was a treat to try two that I am not so familiar with... Louis Vavasour Méthode Traditionelle NV and Johanneshof Emmi, my notes and thoughts on both below, but while it's fun to pop open a bubbly any day of the week - special celebration or a commiseration with friends going through tough times - it is to the credit of Marlborough's wine industry that its members have created the body known as Méthode Marlborough.

The members of this forward thinking group have broken new ground for New Zealand's wine industry by creating an incentive to make sparkling wine using the traditional method (also known as the champagne method) with grapes grown 100% in the region of origin (Marlborough, in this case) and aged on tirage (lees - decomposing yeast cells) in bottle for at least 18 months prior to disgorging, finishing and sending the wines out to market. 

This is a high level initiative for New Zealand wine, which propels the quality and integrity of very good to outstanding quality sparkling wines made in this country's biggest wine region. 

LV Méthode Traditionnelle NV

Awatere Valley grapes make just 3000 bottles of this multi vintage blend each year, the components of which remain a bit of a secret but which Chardonnay certainly makes up the majority, if my tastebuds are correct in this case. Creamy notes and great acidity for balance make for a succulent, smooth and more-ish bubbly.

2011 Johanneshof Emmi

Be still my beating heart. I love nothing more than a blanc de noir or bubbly that is led by Pinot Noir, which makes up 75% of the wine here with 25% Chardonnay for balancing smooth creamy textural appeal; all hand harvested grapes planted on a 30 degree north west facing hillside slope which was planted in 1977 on a small site north of Blenheim. 

This is a stunning sparkling wine with nine years of ageing in bottle, prior to release. Exceptional. 

I was sent these two wines to taste and write about for Méthode Marlborough Day 2023