Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


The many peaks of Central Otago Pinot Noir

Innovation... Dice and Folding Hill  

It seemed like a dicey move, at first, but the launch of the first Central Otago Pinot Noir in a two litre bag in box package is doing surprisingly well. The wine is called Dice by Dicey and is designed to look like a dice. If you'll excuse the earlier pun, it did seem like a slightly risky proposition to bring back the bladder in box or, to use an even more tragic word, the goon. But unappealing names aside, this is no ordinary box of wine. It is made entirely from one year, 2021 and the grapes that went into this wine are either certified organic or from vineyards that are in conversion to organic certification. All of the grapes are grown by family members of the brand owners, James and Matt Dicey, so quality control is a high priority.

And how does the wine taste? 

Pretty good. I have had the opportunity over the past month of trying it again and again and again, over several weeks, which has given me the opportunity to test drive its freshness as the contents go down. I am happy to report that it tastes remarkably fresh after three weeks and the many wine drinkers I have poured it for also agree. 

The inspiration behind Dice by Dicey was to reduce wastage - as they both say, "A staggering 27 per cent of the carbon that is emitted from the craft of winemaking comes not from the farming or running of tractors and other farm machinery but rather the production of the glass bottle with a further 13% being attributed to the shipping."

The plastic bag inside the new Dicey box is also under review. The plan is to use a soft plastic recyclable bag in future iterations. For wine that is to be consumed within a year of being made, this type of packaging works well. Not so well for the long haul but that's another story.

2021 Dice by Dicey Pinot Noir RRP $79.99

Fresh and fruity but dry with layers of red cherries, plums and structured tannins from 16 per cent whole bunch fermentation. The wine was aged in French oak, 16 per cent new. It was bottled unfined and filtered. Very good quality debut. 

Folding Hill is a small but beautiful vineyard in Bendigo, which represents another innovation; only this time, it is the commitment of the couple who own it. Tim and Nicki Kerruish have been stuck on the Isle of Mann since the first lockdown. Long story short, they were travelling with their teenagers and then lockdown came along. This year, they will finally wing their way to the place they want to call home again; Bendigo, Central Otago, New Zealand. 

Their time away means there has been a logistical hiatus in their production but things are back on track now and this outstanding new Pinot Noir is one of them. 


2020 Folding Hill Orchard Block Pinot Noir RRP $

This sublime and seductively perfumed Pinot Noir has flavours that span the gamut of red summer berries to black cherries. There is a juicy succulence to this wine's dry, medium bodied appeal. It is made from grapes grown on a small and sheltered part of the Folding Hill Vineyard in Bendigo, which is called Orchard Block. Fruit trees share space with the vines on this part of the vineyard. The 2020 vintage was tricky in the deep south, in more ways than one. Harvest took place in the middle of lockdown but the yield of fruit was lower than usual too, so the upside is a great concentration of flavour. The wine was aged for 11 months in French oak and another seven months in larger oak hogsheads.

Orchard Block was last made in 2017 and the vineyard is currently in conversion to organic certification. Watch this space.