Joelle Thomson

Words on wine

Category: Argentina

Wines of the week… pushing boundaries

This column is published every Friday

Some weeks are life changing. Like the one when my family was told that my mother’s cancer tumours were disappearing thanks to the new treatment she’s spending her life savings on. And the one when I broke my rib and realised what it felt like to be severely restricted in movement for longer than anyone wants to be. Not to mention the week that I moved cities after a decade of wanting to get out of the rat race. Life throws some weird stuff at us all and no matter what we do, we can’t seem to escape the discomfort it brings. I often feel those same threads of complexity coming through in wines made by people who want to push boundaries beyond where they’ve been before. The guys who set up Dog Point Vineyards are a classic pair of boundary pushers, inspired by the great classic wines of the world and willing to venture outside their usual comfort zones to show wine in a different light.

Another Marlborough winemaker doing the same thing is the quietly understated Brian Bicknell, who was the first winemaker at Seresin Estate, prior to which he made stellar wines in Chile. These days he works for the brand that he and his wife, Nicola, established – Mahi. Their wines deserve to bask in the sunshine of high quality achievements.

All three wines this week are new. Their maverick style and high quality speak  volumes more than the words I can write about them.

Still, it’s my job to do my best at the latter, so here goes.

Wines of the week

2013 Dog Point Section 94 $40

This is an older wine having a new lease of life with this museum release. It’s a wine with the stamp of Ivan Sutherland and James Healy all over it because even though it’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc and even though it’s now six years old, this wine has a  youthful freshness that few Sauvignons retain even after two to three years.

When Sutherland and Healy founded Dog Point Vineyard and made their first vintage of DPV wines in 2002, they immediately struck a chord with wine lovers looking for interesting wines that are noticeably next level in style and quality. And to their credit, they have retained relatively modest prices for extremely high quality wines that are continually being fine tuned. The latest fine tunings include 100% organic certification and 100% screwcaps going forward.

Section 94 is a Sauvignon Blanc made from a single portion of a vast vineyard in the region. It was inspired by the great whites of Bordeaux and made from hand picked grapes which were whole bunch pressed into aged French oak barrels then fermented and matured for 18 months. No fining. It ages beautifully.


2017 Dog Point Chardonnay $40

Here’s a classic Chardonnay, dry, rich in flavour, full bodied and creamy, thanks to being made from hand picked grapes which were whole bunch pressed into French oak (15% new) where it went through primary and malolactic fermentations and spent 18 months No fining. Another great white from Dog Point, which drinks well now and retains complexity and richness with age. Worth every cent.



2017 Mahi Alchemy Chardonnay $39.90

And another great white from Marlborough, this time made by winemaker Brian Bicknell who also uses 100% hand picked grapes, which were sorted and pressed uncrushed, which means there is less juice to the overall volume of wine made but the wine is clearer and fresher as a result. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts from the vineyard and matured in barrel for 15 months before bottling without any protein fining. This makes this a wine that gets the vegan tick of approval.


Red rocks: Argentinian top drop under $20

2016 Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec $14 to $15, 12.5% ABV

Where can you buy this wine? Find out at

This Malbec is one of the best value reds in the Southern Hemisphere and delivers overwhelmingly… good value for money from Argentina, which is one of the top six wine producing countries in the world, in terms of volume… And while it’s soft fruity flavours and smooth approachable style hint at a drink-me-now style of wine, a group of Wine & Spirit Education Trust students all agreed today (when tasting it blind) that it has the potential to further improve for at least the next two years, thanks to its refreshing acidity and long finish.

This wine is made with grapes grown in Mendoza – the HQ of wine in Argentina – a country which has benefitted massively from a nationwide vine pull in the 1980s, which saw the total vineyard area fall dramatically from 314,000 hectares in the early 1980s to 205,000 hectares in 1993. The quality has since risen astronomically, as wines such as this one consistently show.

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