Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Wild Canterbury Pinot pushes beautiful boundaries

I’d heard vicious rumours of dry July but it must’ve been somewhere else because Martinborough was extremely wet last month and so were the insides of my wine glass. One of the best wines of the month was a wild ferment Pinot Noir from a region that is among my go-to, all time favourite places when it comes to drop dead deliciously good wines, most of which are made by small, family owned producers. That place is North Canterbury. And this pre amble is my segue into a long awaited review on one of New Zealand’s most individualistic wines… Greystone Vineyard Ferment Pinot Noir.

It’s a wine that reminds of a blog I read this week about limits, which said that the limits we place on ourselves in life are often echoed in the way we live and work. The outcome of imposing staunch limits on ourselves can be a reliable one but may not always be an exciting or particularly adventurous journey along the way, which reminded me of the story behind the Greystone Vineyard Ferment Pinot Noir; one of this country’s most maverick wines.

It was first made in 2012 as an experiment. The first bottles for commercial sale were made four years later from the 2016 vintage. Components of Greystone Vineyard Ferment Pinot Noir can be blended into the Estate Pinot Noir, which can add complexity, softness and savoury flavours to that wine. The Vineyard Ferment Pinot, meanwhile, is definitely a different take on the Pinot theme. It can seem light, at first appearance, and this is because the cool temperature in the vineyard means there is less extraction than would be typical for a Pinot Noir made in the winery where cap management (plunging or pump overs of the skins through the wine) result in finished wines with more colour. But appearances can be deceiving and Greystone Vineyard Ferment Pinot Noir is one of the reasons that this winery is consistently among my top five New Zealand wine producers every year. Its wines drink superbly well when first released and they taste even better with age; after they have been cellared for a few years in the bottle.

Wine of the week


2019 Greystone Vineyard Ferment Pinot Noir $69.99

Best vintage ever of Greystone Vineyard Ferment Pinot Noir, which has been made four times commercially and began life as an experiment back in 2012. I love this wine’s powerful body and velvety seductive flavours. It’s made from hand picked grapes  fermented in situ in the vineyard in small tanks, which are now permanently in place. Wild yeasts from the vineyard and cool night time temperatures both slow down the fermentation and the finished wine is aged for 15 months in barrels inside the winery. The oak is French and is a mixture of two to five years old.

Big wine, small volumes, sensational.