Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


New Zealand's newest bubbly brand launches

Jascha Oldham-Selak and Sanne Witteveen met in 2017 during their wine studies at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke's Bay and have been together ever since, launching their first wine this month with Vilaura.

The name comes from the words Villa and Aura, which the couple say translates to house of energy. It is a sparkling wine made in the traditional method, made entirely from Chardonnay grapes grown in Hawke's Bay and producing 4,500 bottles and 200 magnums.

Witteveen studied a degree in wine science while Oldham-Selak studied viticulture and wine science. His aim from the start was to produce sparkling wine, using the traditional method of production, which he was drawn to because of its attention to detail and the need to understand the biology of yeast for the two fermentations involved. 

This is his story. 

(My review follows on this Friday's Wines of the week blog.)

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

Establishing Hawke’s Bay’s first Methode Traditionelle Disgorgement and Tirage winery this year 2023. It is called Methode Services Ltd.

What's your favourite thing about wine? 

Wine often signifies celebration. It also offers us a moment of deeper thought and reflection back to a time and place.

Do you have a most treasured wine? 

The 2015 Akarua Kolo, a single vineyard Pinot Noir from Bannockburn in Central Otago.

Where and when are you at your happiest?

At harvest, early morning in the vineyard with the sun rising and the picking team selecting our bunches for the whole bunch press.

What do you most dislike in wine?

The movement away from cork closures and how rushed winemaking is becoming.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I have a growing perfume collection. It's not something to be proud of.

What is your greatest regret? 

I don’t have regrets. Every part of the path is meant to be and lessons learned are the most valuable.

What talent would you most like to have? 

To play the grand piano as well as humanly possible.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I always over exaggerate things being “The best I’ve ever had"

What is your favourite meal? 

Roast chicken with baked potato gratin and asparagus.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing what would it be? 

A domestic cat, They get well fed and no one hassles them for lazing about in the sun all day.