Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Grasshopper Rock then and now

Extreme weather events have been so frequent and, well, extreme, this year that it's easy to forget how many people deal with them in the usual course of their working day - or year.

One of the world's most southern vineyards  is a great example of how challenging it can be when working in an extremely cool climate.

Grasshopper Rock is in Earnscleugh, just outside of Alexandra. This is the most eastern, the driest and the most frost prone of all wine growing areas in Central Otago. And Grasshopper Rock vineyard is, like many in Alex', owned by a group, in this case a group of friends. One of those friends, the most public, is Phil Handford, who describes their latest wine (they only make one wine each year) as being from a warm season but one that had hard frosts. The wine is the 2019 Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir and it is made from hand picked grapes which were harvested following a frosty start to autumn, in early April. The volume of wine was above average and the quality is pretty tasty too, even if it is early days for this youthful wine. 

One of the things I admire the most about Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir is that its owners are never in a rush to get their newest wine out to the market. It can be a costly exercise to hold wines back but, ultimately, it makes for wines that are smoother, rounder and ready to drink when they do eventually hit a shop shelf near us. Speaking of which, this new Pinot Noir paints a silky picture of wine from an extreme climate. 

Wine of the week

2019 Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir RRP $42

This lively young Pinot Noir smells, feels and even looks like it comes from grapes grown in a cool climate, due to its relatively pale ruby hue, its powerful red fruit aromas and flavours that show freshness from high acidity which is balanced by flavours of dried fruit, underpinned by a silky grip on the finish. History suggests this wine will age beautifully too, if a bottle of the 2013 Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir enjoyed recently is anything to go by...

Buy Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir at specialist stores or here: