Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Wine from a small island

The Batch Winery on Waiheke Island owns a 3.5 hectare vineyard on Carson’s Road at Onetangi on Waiheke Island. It's a small piece of vineyard land, by any stretch, both in terms of making enough wine to fund production, let alone a family, but the quality of wines here is high. Thoughtful plantings of grapes with a proven track record and thoughtful winemaking both define this winery as part of the second wave of winemaking on Waiheke Island. As for the definition of Waiheke as a small island (in the heading above this story), it is definitely not a large one, despite the distances between some wine producers and suburbs. 

The hero grape and wine at The Batch is Chardonnay. Smaller plantings of Syrah and Pinot Gris produce interesting, full bodied expressions of these well known varieties, which clearly do well on the site’s iron rich clay soils.

“Winemaking follows our wine growing ethos of low intervention,” says winemaker Daniel Struckman, who is also the director of The Bach.

This low intervention ethos includes fermentations being mostly spontaneous (which means using no added yeast and waiting for natural yeasts on the grapes to do their thing). We use gravity and no racking (moving) of wines once they’re in the barrel. Most of the wines are lightly filtered and unfined. All are bottled on site.

This month I tasted a wide range of wines from The Batch on a couple of occasions and have been most impressed by the quality of the Legacy Syrah, which puts forward a convincing case for the Syrah grape in this part of the world. 


2019 Thomas Legacy Syrah RRP $75

Small volume, high quality Syrah from one of the most promising corners of the country for this classic northern Rhone Valley red grape variety. Spontaneous yeast fermentation and the addition of five per cent of whole bunches both add complex flavour notes to this wine, which was aged on one year old oak for 11 months, given a light filtration and bottled on site. Each of these qualitative measures makes for an impressive full bodied, dark, dry, smooth red. Flavours of blackberries, black fleshed plums, cardamon and a light touch of black pepper all add to the complex multi layered experience in this powerful wine. It can be enjoyed now and will reward cellaring for five to six years, potentially longer.