Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


The Hard Pressed Podcast and Chard Farm The Viper

As if the year hasn't been busy enough, a friend and wine lover suggested we launch a podcast. Great idea! I'm in, I said, about eight months ago. Last week, we finally did it, in the middle of work, family and other life busyness. The result is The Hard Pressed Podcast, which features this week's top wine, among other top shelf new Pinot Noirs from Chard Farm in Central Otago. It was a choice to make because the past month has been a liquid feast of great Pinot Noirs from Central Otago, firstly with a visit to the 25th anniversary of Felton Road, one of New Zealand's most iconic wineries. This was followed by a tasting with Owen Calvert, owner and founder of the great Felton Vineyard on Felton Road and that was followed by a visit to the incredibly dramatic jaw dropping architecture of rusty looking shipping containers that have been suspended in an engineering feat overlooking the impossibly blue water of the Kawarau River. And yet, this blog is about none of those, all of which are waiting in the wings, alongside Valli wines, whose creators - Grant Taylor and Jenn Parr - have just released their newest vintage.

The Hard Pressed Podcast 

Our first podcast is about Chard Farm, which I discuss with fellow wine lover, Dan Dew, on our  new The Hard Pressed Podcast, which you can listen to here on Spotify here:

Chard Farm was one of the first wineries in Central Otago and winemaker-co founder Rob Hay has extended his vineyard source out of the chilly climate of the Gibbston Valley, spreading towards Bannockburn, Lowburn and Parkburn, a good hour's drive away and significantly warmer for grapes to ripen. 

"The 2020 was quite a cool growing season which turned around rapidly just as ripening and flavours started to build in the crop with sustained warm settled conditions saving the day," says winemaker John Wallace...

The four wines we tasted are all reviewed in our podcast on the link above. They are listed here alongside my top pick, the Viper, which is my wine of the week - and one of the best Pinot Noirs to drink this Christmas or Boxing Day. It's easily in my top 20% of Central Otago Pinot Noirs, possibly even higher. 

Wine of the week


2020 Chard Farm Viper Vineyard Pinot Noir RRP $85

A stand out Pinot Noir with a full body, silky, velvet texture and gorgeous drink-me-now appeal, made with grapes grown on a top vineyard site in Parkburn on undulating sandy, loamy, clay soils lying over schist. The complex soil structure, elevated vineyard site and warm days lend this wine its commanding structure and depth. It drinks beautifully now and can age for longer; another four to five years will see this wine reveal its deeper, earthier nature. The name viper comes from a wild flower, by the way. No snakes in this part of the world, thankfully. 

Four new Chard Farm single vineyard Pinot Noirs

2020 Chard Farm The Tiger Pinot Noir RRP $85

2020 Chard Farm Viper Vineyard Pinot Noir RRP $85

2020 Chard Farm Mason Vineyard Pinot Noir RRP $85

2020 Chard Farm Eliza Pinot Noir RRP $85