Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Tempted to buy a vineyard? Wine of the week, 17 August

"Are you tempted to buy a vineyard in Bendigo?" 

The question came out of the blue in the middle of a casual wine tasting. Was it a trick question? I wondered. How many wine writers buy vineyards? To be fair, there is a vineyard for sale in Bendigo, Central Otago, and it is Quartz Reef, whose founder-winemaker Rudi Bauer is firmly focussed on Pinot Noir. Like most Central Otago winemakers. The only difference is that approximately 40% of his Pinot Noir goes into producing a wine that is not red but is sparkling. Quartz Reef Brut began life as Quartz Reef Chauvet, a name collaboration that reflected Bauer and his fellow collaborator, Clothilde Chauvet, a young French winemaker who spear headed the bubbly in its early days. Clothilde is the daughter of Marc Chauvet, both of them winemakers in the Champagne region. 

The wine has long since changed name to Quartz Reef Brut NV and while I am not buying the vineyard, I often buy the wine, which again towered head and shoulders above a bunch of other bubbles tasted this week. These included a champagne (from a very good producer), a cava (Spanish bubbly) and a New Zealand wine. All of the wines were made using the same traditional method with the second fermentation in the bottle, but the most commanding, driest tasting and with the most lingering flavours was Quartz Reef. There are many great sparkling wines produced in Champagne, in Spain, in New Zealand and further afield, but Quartz Reef is without doubt, one of the best made in this country and it reflects an outstanding and unwavering dedication to bottling great flavour. It also shows Pinot Noir in another delicious light, without the colour but with all the depth, savouriness and fresh qualities that make Pinot Noir one of the world's great classic grape varieties. That's a lot of greats in one story. Just try the wine. Here it is. 

Wine of the week


Quartz Reef Brut NV RRP $39.99-ish

Pinot Noir is the lead grape in this wine, reflecting the region's plantings of 80% Pinot. This wine is a blend of, typically, 70%+ Pinot Noir with the balance being Chardonnay, all hand picked, certified organic and biodynamic. 

It tastes dry, savoury, full bodied and has layers of flavour with roasted apples, fresh sourdough and a lingering, toasty finish. I love this wine's commanding flavours and succulence.