Joelle Thomson

Writer, author, journalist

Category: Pinot Gris (page 2 of 2)

Introducing… Soho Wines to Wellington

Soho Wines is now available for the first time ever at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington…

We’ve all got a day job and mine is wine writer and (part time) wine programme director for Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington, New Zealand. Today I’m in Marlborough at the second Organic Winegrowers New Zealand Conference, proving the rule that writers are often at large rather than at their desks. But yesterday, the desk took the form of the counter top at Regional Wines  & Spirits while tasting the extensive range of wines from Soho, which sent its roving ambassador, Amber Hatton, to Wellington to launch the wines.

Soho Wines was established in 2009 by Rachael Carter who worked for her father’s wine importation business (yeast, barrels, corks…), prior to planting the seeds of her own wine producing company. It was a smart move. Her experience meant that Carter understood the crippling overheads that owning a winery can bring, so, instead, she uses grapes from a combination of vineyards, including her family’s  and others. She has hand picked a winemaker in each of region from which she produces wine. She has, in a sense, a virtual winery with no fixed abode, aside from its business headquarters in Auckland.

The winemaking team consists of Dave Clouston in Marlborough, James Rowan in Auckland and Grant Taylor in Otago. And so to the wines, which are now all available at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington.

The Soho wines

2016 Soho Stella Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 13% ABV

Young, fresh and intense with flavours of  tropical fruit (passionfruit, pineapple) and citrus (lemon and grapefruit), a light body and a long finish. Very good drink now, which will continue to be lively for 2 to 3 years.

2016 Soho Jagger Marlborough Pinot Gris 13.5% ABV

Its name was inspired by Mick Jagger and this wine is soft, medium bodied and smooth with white fruit (pear, apple) flavours and an off dry style (6 grams residual sugar per litre).

2016 Soho Maren Marlborough Riesling 11.6% ABV

Zingy deliciousness with a light body, refreshingly zesty lime, mandarin and orange zest flavours, balanced high acidity and a long finish. Like a sorbet in the glass, only it has a dry finish.

2016 Betty Riesling 9.4% ABV

The inaugural vintage of this sensational, zesty, intensely flavoured, light bodied Riesling was made with grapes grown in Marlborough, which were treated to an intentional medium style – noticeable sweetness is balanced by crisp acidity, leaving lingering flavours of lime zest, green apples and lemon juice.

2015 Jonny Chardonnay Marlborough 13% ABV

Creamy, soft and buttery, this light bodied, lively young Kiwi Chardonnay comes from Marlborough and drinks very nicely right now.

2014 Soho Carter Marlborough Chardonnay 13.5% ABV

Warm climate Waiheke Island was home to the grapes that went into this full bodied, smooth, richly flavoursome Chardonnay (citrus, caramel, cedar and spice).

2015 Soho McQueen Central Otago Pinot Noir 14% ABV

This full bodied, fruity (redcurrant and cranberries) and spicy young Pinot Noir is a blend of grapes grown in Central Otago’s diverse grape growing regions (mostly Bendigo – one of the warmest, most sun drenched corners of the region) and it is made by winemakers Grant Taylor and Jen Parr.

2016 Soho Syrah Waiheke Island 14% ABV

Waiheke Island Syrah grapes and Auckland winemaker James Rowan are a great team in this dry, full bodied, toasty tasting red wine with its intense spicy flavours of cloves, white pepper and cinnamon. It’s an impressive drink now and will age well for 5 to 6 years.

2015 Soho Revolver Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc Waiheke Island 14% ABV

This is an impressive big red made with grapes grown on Waiheke Island, which provided plenty of warmth to create this deeply coloured, bone dry, intensely aromatic wine with its black fruit flavours and long finish. Drink now or keep for 8 to 9 years.

Wines of the week: Top drops for $20

What’s your wine budget looking like this week?
If it’s anything like mine, a new range of $17 to $20 wines from Mud House in Marlborough may appeal – all five wines are widely available in New Zealand supermarkets and at Glengarry’s stores.

The launch this week of the new Mud House Sub Region Series wines is also timely for another reason – the affordable prices fit right into the new Top drops for $20 section on this website, which will appeal to those who periodically write in to lament the loss of  “Joelle Thomson’s Under $15  Wine Guide (yes, it was later called Joelle Thomson’s Under $20 Wine Guide), which was published every year in New Zealand from 1999 to 2007.

Books can provide great memories but, with publishing in a state of highly contentious change right now, the most logical place to write about all the great wine bargains that winemakers send me happens to be right here – online.

So, the new Mud House Sub Region wines are made with grapes grown in five different areas, hence, the brand name. They are Rapaura Sauvignon Blanc, Grovetown Pinot Gris, The Narrows Pinot Noir, Burleigh Rose (made from Pinot Noir) and Omaka Chardonnay.

The Mud House Sub Region wines

2016 Mud House Sub Region Sauvignon Blanc  $16 to $20

Take a bunch of Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Rapaura in Marlborough, ferment them into a dry wine in a stainless steel tank at cool temperatures to preserve their fruity aromas of lime, green apple and passionfruit, and here you have it – a wine that’s like a white dove because it’s so clean and pure, says its maker, Cleighten Cornelius.

2016 Mud House Sub Region Burleigh Rose  $16 to $20

“It’s now respectable for blokes to drink pink wine too,” says Jack Glover, of Mud House wines, when launching this pale pink, light bodied, dry wine, which is made 100% from Pinot Noir grapes that were grown specifically for a rose rather than a red. The result is a wine with refreshing high acidity that’s nicely balanced by red fruit flavours, without notes of sweetness. It’s a tasty light bodied pink wine, which makes it a crisp, refreshing lead-in to a fuller bodied wine.

Speaking of which…

2015 Mud House Sub Region Omaka Chardonnay $16 to $20

Silt, gravel and clay soils were home to the grapes used to make this   crisp Chardonnay, which puts its freshest, most citrusy foot forward in a  Chablis-like style (think: high acid, super refreshing, light to medium bodied and you’re spot on).

2016 Mud House Sub Region Grovetown Pinot Gris $16 to $20

Grovetown is the closest area to the coast in this new range of wines, so the Pinot Gris grapes in this wine have a zingy touch of acidity, thanks to the slightly cooler site that they were grown on. The wine was fermented at slightly warmer temperatures than the other whites in the range to encourage savoury flavours to develop. It was also regularly lees stirred to develop flavour (the lees are the left over yeast cells, after fermentation).

2015 Mud House Sub Region The Narrows Pinot Noir  $16 to $20

This Pinot Noir comes from grapes grown on a vineyard in the narrowing upper Wairau Valley on a north facing slope, sheltered by large, established pine trees. It’s pale ruby in colour, smooth and tastes of red and dried fruit; raspberries, cherries and cranberries all provide the signature flavours in this lovely fresh young South Island Pinot. (Just 20% new oak was used in the winemaking here, so fruit comes first while savoury, cedar notes are in the background.)

Winemaker Cleighten Cornelius on these wines…

“They are made from grapes grown on vineyards that we have liked for some time and we wanted to divert these grapes into specific wine styles that play to their biggest strengths. The Pinot Noir grapes for the pink wine have higher acidity than many other Pinot grapes we have access to, so it made sense to turn them to good use in a wine style that needs that acidity for freshness while the Pinot Gris comes from a mixture of heavy clay and dark soils, which provides the grapes with more intense flavours and enabled us to make a spicy wine. Each wine is made solely from grapes grown in that sub region of Marlborough, which also gives them a real story of origin.”

Speaking of origins… The New Zealand Geographic Indications Act is expected to be passed by Parliament and able to be used within the next six months, says New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan.

Wines of the week… 17 August

Let’s just say it’s already been a surrounded-by-new-bottles kind of week because it’s only Wednesday and here we are with a best of the bunch blog. It’s no wonder, really. Not only is New Zealand wine one of the first things we see at the supermarket, it’s the sixth biggest export earner for this country – a significant rise from ninth biggest this time last year.

The following wines were tasted alongside a range of other comparable wines, which were all from New Zealand and all relatively new, with some very recently bottled, as the two 2016 wines show.

Chardonnay of the week

2014 Domaine Rewa Central Otago Chardonnay 14% ABV 

Domaine Rewa Chardonnay is made from grapes grown on a 5.5 hectare vineyard at Pisa, a short drive north of Cromwell in one of Central Otago’s most sun drenched grape growing sub-regions. This Chardonnay highlights what I believe is the strong potential in Otago for high quality whites, due to this wine’s rich flavours, full body, fresh vibrant (high) acidity and balanced creamy softness. Lingering flavours of ripe citrus, nectarines and white peach add to its appeal. www.domainerewa.com

Biodynamics is a philosophy of growing plants sustainably, which includes, among other things, planting, pruning and harvesting according to the phases of the moon. It also includes no systemic sprays, such as herbicides, fungicides, insecticides or pesticides. 

Top Pinot Gris

2016 Jules Taylor Marlborough Pinot Gris 13.5% ABV $23.99

There’s a reason Jules Taylor Pinot Gris keeps appearing on the wine lists at the Gypsy Tea Rooms and The Elbow Room – two small but busy neighbourhood wine bars in Auckland. This Pinot Gris consistently rates highly (with me) for its intensely fresh flavours of subtle white fleshed fruit, such as white pears, white peach and lychees. It’s dry with refreshing crispness and a medium body, all giving it a strong lead on many of its competitors. This is a very good wine with 3 to 4 years time up its sleeve, but why wait? It tastes great now. www.julestaylor.com

Disclaimer: I select the wines for both the Gypsy Tea Rooms and The Elbow Room wine bars in Auckland.

Sensational Sauvignon 

2015 Alluviale Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Hawke’s Bay 13% ABV $23.99

Hawke’s Bay winemaker Ant McKenzie bought the highly revered Alluviale brand earlier this year (2016) and has launched this wine recently, which brings his love of Bordeaux’ best to bear in this dry, fleshy, crisp white wine, which is pale in colour with intense aromas of lemon grass, lime juice, green apple and brie, thanks to the 14% portion of barrel fermented Semillon, which is nicely balanced by the crisp 81% Sauvignon Blanc and the 5% Muscat Blanc, which adds an aromatic je ne said quo. Not only stunning wine but outstanding value for money. www.alluviale.com

Best orange wine

2015 Aurum Organic Amber Wine Central Otago 13.5% ABV 

Lucie Lawrence is a French winemaker who married a Kiwi viticulturist and settled in Central Otago where she makes a trickle of the region’s best Pinot Noirs – and dabbles with 60 cases of this orange Pinot Gris. It was fermented with wild yeasts on skins (hence the orange hue) and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine is bone dry, with high (but balanced) acidity, and a light creamy influence adding softness. If rose is your thing, try this adventurous organic amber wine. aurumwines.co.nz

Best newcomer 2016

2016 Jules Taylor Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc $ 23.99 13% ABV

Juicy, fresh and brand spanking new, this intensely tropical tasting Sauvignon Blanc shines the spotlight on the freshest wines on the market in this country right now – 2016 whites. It’s a super fresh sunshine-in-a-glass style of wine with tropical fruit – pineapples, papayas – a medium body and long finish. What’s not to like. www.julestaylor.com

Top Central Pinot Noir

2013 Domaine Rewa Central Otago Pinot Noir 13% ABV

Pinot Noir is the grape that occupies 80% of Central Otago’s vineyards, and this one is made from a single vineyard at Lowburn, just north of Cromwell. All the grapes in this wine were hand harvested and destemmed prior to fermentation, which keeps the dark fruit flavours to the fore while 8.5 months in French oak softens its youthful vibrancy so that each sip is a silky experience. A delicious newcomer made in small quantities, which puts the country’s southernmost wine region’s best foot forward. www.domainerewa.com

 

 

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