Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Small can be good too – vintage 2021

A very cool, very dry summer with very low rainfall means two things for New Zealand’s biggest wine region this year; low volumes of wine but extremely high quality, if the earliest tastings and reports are anything to go by. Yesterday I was lucky enough to taste wines from one of this country’s best wine producers, Clos Henri in Marlborough. And I use the word best sparingly because it has become so over used. The winery is owned by the French Bourgeois family, who have been making wine for eight generations in Sancerre, in the Loire Valley, France. But they wanted to stretch their wings, to break out of their comfort zone at the end of last century, so they bought a 110 hectares of land in Marlborough in 1999, planting their first vines in 2001. The Trans Alpine fault line dissects their property down the centre and the family built the road down to its cellar door right on top of the fault line. The road now dissects the change in soil type, which highlights the diversity of the wines from the ground to the glass.

The 2021 wines from Clos Henri have yet to be bottled and when they are, volumes will be small, but, as with all of this winery’s great vintages, the quality will be awesome and worth waiting for. In the meantime…

My pick of the wines yesterday is, yet again, the 2016 Clos Henri Stones Sauvignon Blanc but, since that wine was my top pick of the week extremely recently, here is another goodie from a great wine producer. By the way, all Clos Henri wines are 100% certified organic and 100% vegan friendly because they are all bottled unfined and unfiltered. The philosophy is to get the grapes in the best condition possible so that as little as possible needs to be done to them in the winery. A mantra after my own heart. 

Here is the wine of the week

2016 Clos Henri Southern Valleys Pinot Noir $40
The 2016 year was a Goldilocks vintage for Clos Henri. The dry farmed grapes loved the 2016 growing season and played ball big time in terms of ripening optimum red and dark fruit flavours, which shine under the complex layers of soft, savoury flavour development, with earthy but clean hints of mushrooms and notes of oak in the background adding a support structure to this delicious Pinot Noir from New Zealand’s biggest wine region.