Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Wines of the week for spring

Pandemics may spell bad news for airlines but they offer winemakers a great opportunity to talk about and taste their wares in a new forum, namely, the virtual online space. This week I was lucky enough to be asked to co host a virtual tasting via Instagram for Whitehaven Wines in Marlborough.

The company began life as a romantic new business for a couple of corporate escapees, Sue and Greg White, who had given up life in the rat race of Auckland for another kind of life aboard their yacht. When sailing around the country, they took shelter in the Marlborough Sounds from Pacific storms and fell in love with the region. An easy thing to do when harbouring in the spectacularly pristine waters of the Sounds. They decided to settle there on terra firma once more and try their hands at wine production, hiring a winemaker and beginning a business which has now been around for 26 years. Greg has sadly passed away now, leaving a legacy as well as his wife and daughter, Sam, to run the winery.

Their new winemaker is Peter Jackson, who co hosted the Instagram tasting last night with yours truly. Here are the pair of great whites that we tasted. Both impressed me with their freshness, relative dryness and high quality.

2018 Whitehaven Marlborough Pinot Gris $21.99

Pinot Gris is a versatile grape variety, which can taste rich and expressive or simple and straightforward, depending on the crop levels in the vineyard and winemaking style. This tasty little number from Whitehaven Wines in Marlborough puts the variety’s best foot forward with its dry style (5 grams residual sugar per litre) and refreshing acidity adding nervy zest to the flavoursome citrusy style. Impressive.

2017 Whitehaven Marlborough Riesling $21.99

Riesling is never far from mind when visiting New Zealand’s biggest wine region, which may make a sea of Sauvignon Blanc, but which can also produce outstanding wines made from this under rated German variety.

This wine is made from a combination of hand and machine harvested fruit which was fermented at cool temperatures to retain fruit freshness as well as 11.6 grams per litre of residual sugar, nicely balanced by bright tasty acidity. It’s a succulent little number which rocks a lime zest flavour and drinks beautifully now but can age for at least a decade.