Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Early reports of vintage 2020 in lockdown

Anxiety levels have been running high for many of us lately, but especially so for those who have been allowed to continue working alongside others at a safe distance during Covid-19, such as vintage workers for the wine industry.

Very little has been said publicly about those harvesting grapes during New Zealand’s 2020 vintage, during which wine has been deemed an essential service by the Government. The report on Jules Taylor Wine’s 2020 vintage makes for an interesting read here.

There have been upsides for those workers – and for us – because essential services continue to work towards generating income in the future as well as providing much needed wine in the meantime.

While the quantity and quality of grapes harvested in each region always varies, the country’s biggest wine region, Marlborough, is beginning to provide early reports of high quality this year. The proof will be in the bottle as the wines begin to trickle out later in the year.

Today’s wine comes from last year’s 2019 vintage in Marlborough from Jules Taylor, who hand harvested grapes from the region’s Southern Valleys to make her Pinot Noir.

Is wine an essential service? We can each be the judge of that but for me, it most definitely is and, here without further ado, is my wine of the day for lockdown.

Wine of the day


2019 Jules Taylor Marlborough Pinot Noir $32.99

The 2019 growing season began with a hiss and roar, says Jules Taylor, who explains that early flowering, smaller than usual berries and warm dry weather made for an early start to harvest with healthy looking grapes. The proof is in the pudding and this Pinot Noir gets a gold medal score of 18.5 out of 20 from me.

All of the grapes were destemmed into small open top fermenters, cold soaked for five to 10 days then fermented with indigenous yeasts on the grapes and hand plunged for extraction. It was matured in French oak for approximately 10 months.