Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Organic Week Aotearoa… Wines of the week

It’s more than a buzzword or a nice idea. Organic wine – certified organic wine, that is – is now an imperative part of every New Zealand winemaker’s current thinking. It has to be, if they want to share in the marketing of New Zealand wine overseas by New Zealand Winegrowers, but that’s another, much longer story than organic wine itself.

Organic Week Aotearoa kicks off tomorrow, Saturday 5 September, and here are my three new favourite organically certified wines for this week.

Organic trio

2019 Greystone Organic Sauvignon Blanc $28

Wild yeast, vegan friendly and certified organic all tick the boxes for health conscious wine drinkers but there are other strings to this Sauvignon’s bow that appeal to me. It’s fermented in old French oak barrels with wild yeasts and takes an incredibly long six months to finish ferment to dryness. And it’s worth the wait. It also goes through 50% malolactic fermentation, which softens its succulent, zesty acidity, giving roundness, supporting the zesty characters and the lingering finish…

Sauvignon Blanc may be this country’s biggest wine thing but here’s one that shows another side, a softer side to its personality with a smooth, creaminess and great complexity for the price. This wine will age for up to five years too. Buy here.

2018 Greystone Thomas Brothers’ Pinot Noir $100
Edgy, dynamic, silky, smooth, structured and it’s certified organic. This is a great Pinot Noir from a great wine region made from grapes that grow in conditions that would make most of us want to wither up and die – it’s a hard, windy environment on the steep hillside vineyard they grow on. This makes for small, tough skinned grapes (Pinot Noir is typically thin skinned but not so much here). Extensive thinning of the bunches while they grow also ensures small crops and the result is a big, powerful Pinot with a pale colour, no whole bunch fermentation but wild yeast fermentation followed by aging in French oak barriques, 66% new, for 15 months. Needless to say, the grapes were hand harvested.
A keeper, as previous older vintages show. If you’re tempted, buy two and think of it as an investment. Buy here.


2018 Greystone Erin’s Chardonnay $100
Hand picked grapes grown on limestone rich soils were fermented in separate components from individual parts of a steep hillside vineyard, grown entirely in the much respected Mendoza Chardonnay clone. This clone is also known as hen and chicken because of its variable grape berry sizes, the small ones adding intense fresh acidity to the softer flavours that Chardonnay is well known and loved for. Small berries and thick skinned grapes characterised the 2018 vintage on this organically certified vineyard. This wine was 80% whole bunch pressed, wild yeast fermented and aged for 15 months in French oak barriques, 46% new.
Drinking well now? Well, yes, but this is a keeper, if you have the willpower. Buy here.