Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Best new release, 21 May 2021, 2017 Doctors Flat Pinot Noir

Many people have a dream retirement job while others retire so that they can dream. Steve Davies was in the first camp when he longed for a small vineyard of his own to plant in grapes, make top notch wine and fund his later years and create a job he loves. In 2002, he began to do just that, buying about four hectares of land on a windy, elevated site on Hall Road in Bannockburn, Central Otago. He built a modest house, planted three hectares of Pinot Noir right next to it and has since set about creating a successful brand of Pinot Noir. The Central Otago winemaker named his site and his wine Doctors Flat Vineyard Pinot Noir. He has since added Chardonnay to the schist soils on site, which were carved out by glacial ice deposited approximately 480,000 years ago. It won’t take quite that long for his first Chardonnay to appear but he is in no rush to coax a full bodied, dry textural white from the site. It’ll take a couple of years for the first grapes to come on stream and when they do, he will wait until the flavours and structure of the crop can provide what he’s looking for.  In the meantime, Steve pours his energies into refining his Pinot Noir, adapting his pruning methods and farming the land along organic guidelines, though he is not certified organic yet.

Wine of the week

2017 Doctors Flat Bannockburn Pinot Noir $51.50

The tight tannins in this wine are the result of super low crops in 2017, which wasn’t a hot year and had poor flowering in December, so the overall volume of wine was significantly reduced. Add to that a staunch nor’ westerly wind, which can cool off Doctors Flat Vineyard, creating thicker grape berry skins and more robust, dark fruit flavours, accentuated by savoury spice flavours and a firm, long finish. This wine is super youthful right now and will benefit hugely from another six to 12 months in bottle, which will give it time to mellow and get comfortable in its own firm tannic skin. It is a big, dark fruity style. Robust, potentially long lived, although perhaps not since it tastes deliciously spicy right now, when decanted and given time to open up in the glass.

  • The first vintage of Doctors Flat Bannockburn Pinot Noir was 2008 with 200 cases. This has grown now to about 800 cases, occasionally more, when the wind doesn’t decide to decimate potential production of Pinot.