Cloudy but nice

By Joelle Thomson

Risk is part of the journey in making great wine - and in getting there to taste it, MiNDFOOD's wine editor Joelle Thomson writes.

It’s funny how quickly things can change.

One minute I’m sipping a big beautiful burgundy, eating duck confit and discussing things you shouldn’t do when you’ve had a few wines (like using a giant slingshot, sawing logs, operating sharp or heavy machinery).

The next I’m flying home through a hailstorm in a small propeller plane.

As the bumps get bigger, the hail gets harder and my duck confit seems like a world away. Sob sob.

To distract myself from these stomach churning thoughts, I attempt to amuse myself by thinking about the wine I’d drink right now while I still could.

After spending two crystal clear days touring picture perfect pinot noir vineyards in Marlborough, it has to be pinot noir, preferably in its French form of burgundy.

And if I couldn’t have a bottle of anything from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti or Christophe Roumier, then I’d settle for something a tad more humble.

Domaine Marquis D’Angerville Volnay Champans springs to mind.

Made by two winemakers from a premier cru vineyard in Burgundy, it was the wine I most enjoyed with the duck confit.

The reason for the plane ride was my attendance at the annual two-day Pinot Noir at Cloudy Bay event.

It’s an amazing tasting, given that the host winery sticks their own pinot noir into a long line-up of top pinot noirs from around the world, all of which have their identities concealed.

Nobody at the host winery visibly minds their wine not being the most popular choice of all who attend, at least not outwardly.

Instead, the entire Cloudy Bay team ooze humility, each of them saying something along the lines of: “Oh, we know we’ve got a long way to go with our pinot noir” and “we’re pleased with the improvements we’ve made in our pinot noir over the years, but there’s a lot more work to be done before we can ever say ‘we’re there’”.

Truth be told, Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir is better than it’s ever been. It may not have the cachet of coming from the world’s southernmost wine region, Central Otago, nor has it got the winegum fruit flavours of wines from the deep south.

But Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir straddles the popular new world fruit appeal of a New Zealand pinot with the savoury flavours that Burgundy lovers look for.

Oh, and let’s not forget that mutant white pinot that Cloudy Bay is now making.

Yes, it’s true. At long last I have found a pinot gris I can drink, the 2007 Cloudy Bay Pinot Gris.

But that’s another tale; a tale of long, pinot gris-fuelled nights as one after another winemaker has attempted to woo my palate onto it. As we say, watch this space.


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