Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Friday morning wine with Duncan Forsyth

Lifelong friends, a bloody Mary and a slushy machine all rate highly for Duncan Forsyth, of Mount Edward Winery in Central Otago. He was the first in New Zealand to sell high quality Pinot Noir on tap to restaurants. He rates southern Spain as his favourite wine region, among a couple of other regions, and finds working from home to be a bit of a distraction but life and work go on, as he shares this Friday morning in this website’s new wine take on the famous Proust questionnaire, which originated in 1886 and of which you can find out more  here.

Duncan makes one of Central Otago’s best Chardonnays, in my view. It is made in a classic style from organically certified vineyards with wild yeast fermentation, full malolactic, lees aging and no filtration. A typically quality driven approach from a producer who makes finished wines he actually wants to drink. Now that’s refreshing.

Wine of the morning

2019 Mount Edward Chardonnay RRP $29.99

Fabulously classic old school Chardonnay from a new world wine region. Mount Edward Chardonnay is certified organic, full bodied, dry, creamy and tastes like ripe grapefruit with a lemon zest-curd like acidity, adding edginess and depth of flavour that lingers in the memory. It was fermented with native yeasts in old oak and left on decomposing yeast cells for 10 months followed by full malolactic fermentation and bottling with no filtration.

The interview… 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Having lifelong friends, children who are decent human beings and, most importantly, refraining from being a dickhead enough that my wife is still with me.

What is your current state of mind?

Different from when I first read this question. No doubt, it constantly changes, generally super positive which is what I try and maintain. I mean, it has to be, doesn’t it?

If you aren’t trying to be happy and making others happy, then what is the point?

What is your favourite part of winemaking?

Harvest for sure. I can briefly abdicate from nearly all my other responsibilities for a short time and enjoy everything from driving the forklift, cooking lunch fixing challenges, mechanical and intellectual, getting all wines on ferments, using experimental grapes; during harvest, it’s the only focus. It’s like a busy holiday with a happy sort of pressure for me.

Do you have a most treasured wine?

Not really, although I did once have sex in the La Tache vineyard, so if ever I have one of those wines it brings back quite happy memories.

Where is your favourite wine region?

On the basis of the previous question, I should say Burgundy but I guess the Jura as it has better cheese, jamon and pastries. I like the simple pleasures of that region as well as the people I was lucky enough to meet, especially being a non French speaker.

If not there, then Jerez. Its Moorish architecture is out of this world and the tapas and the Spanish are way cooler.

When and where are you at your happiest?

Likely with my wife and it could be anywhere, although at a festival dancing wouldn’t hurt.

What do you most dislike in wine?

Wineries being lauded when they have no real intent from an environmental or social perspective

I pay attention to very few ‘experts’ for this very reason. It’s more than just about the wine or brand but most are too afraid to have an opinion on something objective or are too middle of the road. When was the last time you heard an expert say “You know, these wines are pretty good but the way they look after their land is poor, so it’s a no from me.”

Irrelevant reference is that I loved being part of bringing wine on tap to this country, if only for the fact that it came in a tumbler… “Err, but the glass matters?” said some, who missed the point. These were the very same commentators I refer to above.

What is your greatest fear?

Not enough time for the next project.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Spending money on frivolous things. I did just buy an old golf cart to turn into an art car for LUMA, an arts festival I help run. The money should probably have been spent in a better fashion and we do own part of a slushy machine, which is equally useless but in the scheme of things, it does bring a smile to our friends’ faces. So maybe it’s money well spent afterall.

What is your greatest regret?

See first question. Any time I’ve been a dickhead in the past.

What talent would you most like to have?

To be more mechanically practical enough to fix said golf cart, without having to ask my friends for their help with a project that I started but they now have to help finish.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Given my frame of reference, which doesn’t really include all of the real world suffering out there, my answer is a first world response of seeing people who are racked with self doubt, anxiety, depression or poor mental health of any description, which incapacitates their lives in any way.

What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?

That I honestly have no problem spending an afternoon on the couch. Laziness.

What do you most value in your friends?

Silliness and seeing the absurd in so much, both real and imaginary.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

And another thing.

What is your favourite meal?

Choose one? All things considered, a bloody Mary comes closest.

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

Well, selfishly, a killer whale would be pretty cool but if karma has anything to do with it, most likely a goat.