Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Homage to Winetopia - wine without pretence

Winetopia founder and organiser Rob Elliott is a man on a mission: to bring wine to the masses in a chilled, buzzy and fun environment, without a hint of pretence. The event is an annual fixture in central Wellington and Auckland each year, having begun life in 2016 and, despite a few hiccups thrown up by covid, Winetopia continues to grow, both in the confidence of those taking part and in wine lovers' perceptions of the event. It is a great place to go to taste wines most people would rarely get the chance to see and it's also a fun way to pass a mid winter weekend because there is food, music, educational sessions, all delivered in a low key fashion to anyone who pays the entry fee.

The vibe was relaxed at this year's Winetopia in Wellington, held during the weekend on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 June. Winetopia Wellington  is now in its eighth year (it began in 2016) and it has been a privilege to be part of its journey for the past five years. 

Winetopia had a fantastic vibe. Chilled, fun, buzzy, not too busy and full of (generally) very open minded wine lovers. I hosted four sessions and a couple of informal introductions to Martinborough wine and it was a blast. 

There are more highlights than time to write them, unless I deprive myself of even more sleep, suffice to say that sparkling wine made in the traditional method (the same way as champagne), powerful Pinot Noir (with elegance) from Central Otago and Martinborough and Riesling from many regions the most southern wine region in the world (Central Otago) were among the many stellar highlights. There were cool climate sparkling wines from Kaikoura and magnums of eight year old Pinot Noir from Te Muna, among many other superb offerings. 

There was no single highlight but these two great whites shone strongly this weekend.

The highlight of my wine weekend is from far away from these shores from a region known variously as Alto Adige, the South Tyrol, the Sudtirol and the border of northern Italy and southern Austria. 

This wine comes from the oldest winery in what is now Italy but was once Austrian/Italian. 

Winetopia highlights

2022 Greywacke Chardonnay RRP $55

Here is a wine with 100% of almost everything, including its delicious complex flavour spectrum. All of the grapes were hand picked and (nearly all) were low yielding Mendoza and 548 clones of Chardonnay, which both bring crisp acidity to the table in this full bodied, rich, dry Chardonnay. The grapes were 100% whole bunch pressed, 100% fermented in French oak (only 20% new wood) and entirely fermented with wild yeasts. It's also a 100% family affair and the 2022 was made by father-son winemakers Kevin and Alex Judd.

It drinks superbly now with its robust full bodied style balanced by vibrant acidity and a flavoursome palate and this style has a history of great agreeability. It will evolve into a smooth creamy texture wine over the next five to eight years. 

2022 Mora Riesling RRP $37

Mora Riesling is made from 22 year old vines grown on the Redback Ridge on Cairnmuir Road vineyard In Bannockburn and has a crisp fresh and beautifully balanced line of fresh lime zest running through every sip. It is one of two Rieslings made by Mora and this one contains 48 grams of residual sugar, which may sound high, however, this wine tastes gorgeously fresh with a candied citrus taste mid palate. Aromas of lemon zest, white peach and ripe mandarin are captured here and the wine leaves a deep impression of freshness with every sip.