Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Top drops under $25 from Blackenbrook

Low-fi, minimal intervention, gravity fed, organic, vegan friendly and biodynamic are among the latest buzzwords in wine circles globally right now and Blackenbrook Vineyard in Nelson ticks several of these boxes, with more on the way. The owners are Daniel and Ursula Schwarzenbach, who have 20 hectares of vineyard planted between Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park. It’s home to seven different grape varieties, all growing on Moutere clay soils in Tasman Bay, 500 metres from the sea – a sun drenched site at the tip of the South Island.

Here are my reviews on their latest wines, sent to me this week for tasting and evaluation…

2020 Blackenbrook Nelson Sauvignon Blanc $21,   13.5% ABV
This Sauvignon Blanc has juicy tropical fruit flavours balanced by fresh herb and  passionfruit aromas with intense but balanced acidity adding a zesty note to the wine. A  smidgeon of residual sugar adds lift to the wine, which is made with grapes grown on Blackenbrook’s home block vineyard on Moutere clay soils in Tasman Bay. All the grapes were hand picked on 23 March, prior to lockdown at Alert level 4 during Covid-19 so the winery owners luckily managed to side swipe the tricky issue of harvesting with social distancing.
The grapes were given a cool fermentation with extended lees contact and the wine was given a little (3%) oak maturation which adds noticeable smoothness and complexity. Residual sugar of 1.9 grams per litre keeps the wine firmly in the dry category and the wine was bottled without fining, so it ticks the vegan box.
The 2020 vintage was a challenge for many due to Covid-19 but fortunately Blackenbrook Vineyards managed to narrowly miss this issue due to favourable weather with a warm summer leading up to harvest in late March.
Vegan certified.

2020 Blackenbrook Nelson Pinot Blanc $28,  14.5% ABV
This full bodied Pinot Blanc’s aromatic appeal is enhanced by 9 grams of residual sugar per litre which makes the wine off dry but superbly balanced by moderate zingy acidity giving an interesting thread of taste to the palate. This Nelson wine brand is one of the few making a Pinot Blanc and what a wine it is. Dry, full bodied but with a light touch thanks to its floral aromas and lovely intensity of flavour. It delivers plenty for the price tag. This wine was made from hand picked grapes which are now in their second year of cropping from the vineyard’s Home Block on Moutere clay in Tasman Bay. Three different clones of Pinot Blanc (GM1, GM2 and GM7) were used with manual shoot thinning, leaf plucking and crop reduction. The grapes were whole bunch pressed then gravity fed to tank ferment at cool temperatures to retain fruit flavours. The wine was then given extended lees contact to add texture. There was no fining, pre bottling, so it ticks the vegan friendly box. Vegan friendly.

2020 Blackenbrook Nelson Rose $25,   14% ABV
The back label suggests that this deep pink wine provides dangerously easy drinking and I have to agree. It’s made from Pinot Noir grapes (100% Abel clone) grown on Moutere clay soils in Tasman Bay, Nelson. All grapes in the wine were hand harvested and it was fermented to just off dry with 4.9 grams per litre of residual sugar, which adds a little lift of red berry flavour to the wine. It’s medium pink colour and oak aging for 9% of the wine also add body, which is a delicious touch to this rose. I love the colour and style. It certainly lives up to its back label.
Vegan certified.