Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Top drops of the week... Akarua and Mora Pinot Noirs

Names play a big role in our lives and in the success of many products and brands, due to their pronounceability or otherwise. They also have strong resonance for the Skeggs family, who have now created two evocatively named wine brands, Akarua and Mora.

The name Akarua is Maori for two vines and is a reference to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; the two grapes that Sir Clifford Skeggs planted on his original vineyard in Bannockburn, Central Otago. And the name Mora is the Latin word for linger or pause, a concept that resonates strongly with those who see wine as a reason to take time out of busyness and enjoy what the Italians call 'vino contemplation'; wines to contemplate. But wines worth contemplating don't tend to sit on supermarket shelves and do tend to cost more than high volume, widely available bottles do. Enter the wines that stand out to me this week. Firstly, Akarua.

Last year, the Skeggs family sold their Akarua winery and a substantial portion of their vineyard land to the Edmond de Rothschild Group, which is overseen by CEO Baroness Ariane de Rothschild, CEO. She was in New Zealand in March this year to raise the international profile of Bannockburn at an event she held at Akarua Winery for media as well as local winemakers. Baroness de Rothschild was attracted to Central Otago for its exceptional wine growing land and she sees the region playing a key role to play in helping to meet global demand for premium quality wine. 

“We know the global market for Pinot Noir is growing rapidly and Akarua is a key strategic vineyard for Edmond de Rothschild Heritage to expand this part of our collection.Working with other growers in the region as a collective we can develop the international reputation of Bannockburn more effectively."

The Skeggs family are clearly of a similar mindset because it has retained 90 hectares of its vines in Pisa and Bannockburn as well as retaining ownership of the Rua wine brand. The family is making its wines under the new name, Mora, selling them entirely online and also at an artisan kitchen in Arrowtown, while the Rua wines sell widely around the country, as do Akarua wines.  

Here are three wines of the week, whose names have resonance to those who enjoy words and names that evoke meaningful wine experiences.

2022 Mora Pinot Noir Bannockburn RRP $50

Talk about impressive Pinot Noir. Bold, dark and full bodied but soft, silky and lithely delicate in style too. This is a dry, powerful Pinot Noir with red plum aromas leading into a refreshing, multi layered flavoursome wine with depths of aroma and a long finish. Every sip lingers.


2021 Akarua Pinot Noir RRP $45
Pinot Noir is king at Akarua in Bannockburn where 78% of the grapes grown are Pinot Noir and approachability soft wines are the result of ripe fruit flavours that shine in wines balanced by beautiful layers of structure and full bodied wines, such as this one.


2022 Mora Chardonnay Pisa RRP $45

Beautiful expression of Central Otago Chardonnay with a silky texture, full body and complex layers of flavour supported by great structured acidity. Hand picked grapes, wild yeasts and nine months ageing in French oak (a modest 20% new oak) all make this wine a complex, smooth, full bodied and layered style of Chardonnay with ripe citrus notes leading the style.