Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Wines of the week for three budgets

When there are so many people in the world without a drop of water to drink, it sometimes seems incredibly banal to be writing about a choice of wines to consume when the mood takes us, but life does not deal us all an equal hand, as we see with increasing alarm every time we switch on the news.

With that very thought in mind, for those of us who are fortunate enough to live with a choice of what to drink, here are three wines that have impressed me over the past week in my life as a privileged independent wine writer (with a real job too). 

Recession buster 

2022 Main Divide Riesling North Canterbury RRP $22.99

North Canterbury has long been home to New Zealand's most impressively concentrated Rieslings and even at this incredibly modest price (especially in current times when the cost of living is crushing for many), this wine over delivers. Its ripe mandarin juice, lime zest and concentrated honey flavours are balanced by juicy acidity that adds depth to every sip.

Treat of the week

2022 Mora Chardonnay RRP $47

Mora is a new range of wines from an experienced producer in Central Otago, which is making this gorgeous expression of dry, smooth, full bodied Southern Hemisphere Chardonnay. Grapes come a 28 year old vineyard in Pisa, on the western shores of Lake Dunstan and there is a depth of citrus purity of flavour held in a rounded, full bodied wine with creamy nuances from barrel ageing in French oak for nine months; the proportion of new oak is 20%, which is relatively modest and allows the wine's acidity and juicy taste to shine.

Lay me down

2020 Church Road 1 Series Syrah RRP $120

Big reds and Hawke's Bay's best vintages go together like, well, ducks and water or iron rich soils and great Syrah, which is the story of this wine. The 2020 vintage will be remembered for many things, including lockdown and a long, dry, incredibly warm summer, which gave late ripening grapes a chance to put their best foot forward in wines such as this spicy, deep ruby coloured Syrah from Church Road. The grapes were all grown in the Bridge Pa Triangle Winegrowing District where free draining, iron rich ash soils suit Syrah well and enable it to shine, as in this wine. It is my current top pick of the Church Road 1 Series range. 

If cellaring wines is important, this wine is an imperative addition for lovers of big but balanced reds from great vintages.