Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Wines of the earth from Urlar

Urlar means of the earth in Gaelic and is a fitting name for wines made from grapes that are certified organic and grown biodynamically. The winery was started by Angus and Davinia Thomson, who have now sold the business, but who laid the foundations for a winery that lives up to the integrity of its certified organic, biodynamic claims. This week I tasted three of this relatively small winery’s new wines, which I have reviewed here.

2019 Urlar Gladstone Pinot Gris $25
Dry, rounded, creamy and full of flavour. This Pinot Gris is made from hand picked grapes grown on stony free draining river terraces in the Gladston region of the Wairarapa, one of the smallest wine regions in New Zealand, and a place where Pinot Gris are typically made in a dry style thanks to dry late summer and autumn weather, which allows the grapes to ripen on the vine for longer than usual. A small but tasty portion of this wine (just 12%) was destemmed and fermented on its grape skins then aged in mature French oak barriques with a range of yeasts. A portion of malolactic fermentation accentuates the weight and lees stirring adds to this with roundness and creamy mouthfeel as well as taste.
Super rich but beautifully balanced by moderate acidity and flavoursome creamy textures. Vegan friendly.

2018 Urlar Gladstone Riesling $25
Certified BioGro NZ
Winemaker Jannine Rickards makes this delicious dry Riesling from hand picked grapes grown on free draining stony soils on old river beds in the Wairarapa. It’s fresh acidity and moderate alcohol of 11.5% make it taste super refreshing, which balances the pronounced citrus aromas of grapefruit, lemon zest and limes. This wine won a bronze medal at the New Zealand Organic Wine Awards and it’s easy to taste why. Vegan friendly. 

2020 Urlar The Mediator White $19.99
This tasty, unconventional blend is defined by Pinot Gris, which makes up 54% of the wine with the balance being a fleshy 20% Viognier, 16% of creamy Chardonnay with 5% each of Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, both of which add zesty zingy attitude to this first ever Mediator white. It’s made in the cool climate of Gladstone in the central Wairarapa, a grape growing region which provides refreshing moderate acidity to the relatively low acid grapes of Pinot Gris and Viognier, which, along with Chardonnay, add weight and texture to the wine. This is a new wave blend with style and freshness to burn. A great year round drink thanks to its body and crisp style.