Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Wines of the week… What does ‘natural’ mean? Churton’s new Natural State wines

Second generation winemakers Ben and Jack Weaver made this week’s trio of new Natural State vintages, a brand which was established to acknowledge the trend towards less-is-more winemaking.

They are not calling these wines ‘natural’ for the sake of it. They are making wines in the most natural way possible, while adhering to classic and modern winemaking principles to create the freshest, purest flavours in an accessibly priced range of interesting wines. Which is pretty much the philosophy of their organic and biodynamically focussed parents, Sam and Mandy Weaver, who own Churton Estate in Marlborough. Production is small, quality is high and flavours are pronounced but balanced in the wines from this outstanding wine producer – one of my top New Zealand wineries, due to the consistently high quality since they first established their brand in 1997.

It’s refreshing to taste the new wave from the second generation, which adds a new twist to an excellent existing brand.

I love the flavours in each of these tasty wines of the week.

Wines of the week


2019 Natural State Pied de Cuve $27

Certified organic

This 100% certified organic Sauvignon Blanc is made with grapes grown on the Loin Block Vineyard in Marlborough and fermented with indigenous yeasts created in the run up to harvest 2019. The vineyard team collected samples of grapes to make a starter yeast, used to ferment the hand harvested grapes in this wine. The  juice was fermented in aged 500 litre puncheons and remained on lees for 9 to 12 months, post fermentation. The wine was then bottled with no fining or filtration, which leaves so many goodies in this tasty, medium bodied, succulent and deliciously creamy dry white. It’s balanced beautifully by Sauvignon’s naturally refreshing acidity. Sealed with a screwcap.



2019 Natural State Pinot Noir Marlborough $27

Certified organic and vegan friendly

This wine is made from the Clod Block, the youngest Pinot Noir vineyard and typically the first one picked by the Churton Estate team. It was planted in the Waihopai Valley in 2000 using a European approach, says winemaker Jack Weaver. Vine rows are spaced close together at high density of approximately 5,000 vines per hectare. They are farmed along biodynamic and organic principles.

This latest Natural State Pinot Noir is from the 2019 growing season which was incredibly dry with almost no rain between Christmas and harvest. The grapes were picked in mid March and displayed high colour intensity, which comes through in this organically certified, intensely fruity, fresh and intense Pinot Noir. The grapes were fermented in two separate tanks with indigenous yeasts and no whole bunch fermentation. The fermenting grape must was plunged lightly for colour and tannin extraction. The wine was matured in seasoned French oak for three months, a relatively short time, and then bottled with a low sulphur addition and unfined. Sealed with a screwcap.


2019 Natural State Field Blend $27

Certified organic

Viognier, Petit Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc grapes were co fermented to make this full bodied, fleshy off dry white which contains 6 grams of residual sugar per litre, so it is just off dry. It tastes dry and has refreshing zesty acidity from Marlborough’s cool night time temperatures, which adds balance to the rich flavours of the Viognier and Petit Manseng. Sealed with a screwcap.