Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Wines of the week (why you should spend more than $20…)

Why pay $20+ on a bottle of wine when there’s so much of it available for significantly less than a $20 note?

If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this question, I would have enough to go all the way and buy great burgundy, the pinnacle of Pinot Noir. All jokes aside, it’s a fair enough question for wine lovers who are surrounded by cheap and cheerful Pinot – why would they seriously consider buying Pinot Noir that costs above $20 when there’s so much readily available for far cheaper?

There’s so much to gain from spending a little more and, occasionally, a lot more, but it’s sometimes hard to believe when prices have dropped and quality has risen of wines for less than $20.

If you’re a Pinot Noir lover in New Zealand today, here are two great wines – worth the extra spend.

2018 Nga Waka Pinot Noir $33, 17.5/20

Martinborough Pinot Noir is one of the great unsung stars of this country’s red wine industry and is where the Pinot story began, in the late 1980s when this tiny town was purely a farming community with a few fledgling wineries. Nga Waka was one of the second wave of early wineries and its founding winemaker Roger Parkinson is still at the helm today, albeit with new ownership. He makes this lovely refreshing Pinot Noir from the winery’s Pirinoa Block, a vineyard south of the town on Lake Ferry Road, which he blends with grapes grown on the Old Cemetery Block. Ten per cent is fermented with whole bunches and the juice is macerated for 19-21 days followed by 22 months in French oak, 20% new. Fruity, dry, velvety and smooth, underpinned with refreshing acidity which makes every sip linger.

2018 Nga Waka Lease Block Pinot Noir $37 to $40, 18.5/20
Roger Parkinson is one of Martinborough’s most experienced winemakers and produces this great Pinot from a small 0.8 hectare vineyard known as Lease Block. It’s on Huangarua Road, Martinborough’s golden mile of wineries and vineyards. This small site was planted in 1999 in 100% Pinot Noir clone 5, 115, and 10/5.This wine is made with 15% whole bunch fermentation, maceration for 22 days and maturated in French oak, 33% new for 20 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, so vegan friendly. Fresh, earthy, savoury, medium bodied and refreshing, thanks to great balanced acidity.